Answer: Creating a schedule at the very beginning of a search is a management tool to make an educated guess about when candidates will be interviewed. It creates a need for executives to acknowledge and block times for what is a high priority for the hiring manager. The search process then takes on a formal structure with targets for completing the various steps involved.
The search schedule is a tool that can be used to place “holds” on executives’ calendars for finalist visits. That can easily shave a month off a search. The schedule is also a helpful tool to share with candidates, so they can be prepared to clear their calendars when they are needed. Adjustments can always be made, which do take time and patience. The idea is not to wait until you are ready to schedule interviews and then find conflicts. By looking weeks and even months ahead, appointments can be arranged quickly since finalists have already reserved blocks of time and executive travel, for example, has already been taken into consideration and doesn’t scuttle interviews.
This planning process also challenges the hiring manager to determine who will be invited to interview the candidates and in which rounds. There may be a need for two interview cycles, e.g. a semi-final round and a final round. Arranging the timing of the two rounds early in the search process allows, if needed, for changes to the executive team participating. That can prevent delays in the schedule.
Candidates also find that advance planning is very helpful if they need to take several days off from their job for interviews. I have seen searches delayed by a month at the finalist stage when it is discovered far along in the search that conflicts in scheduling on both sides cannot be avoided. Again, advance planning can prevent these surprises.
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK. Judy Cushman, Consulting and Retained Search, firstname.lastname@example.org