Pamela Moore |

When you make the decision to hire additional employees, it is critical that you streamline your hiring process. Now that the construction industry is recovering from the recession, we see that there is a growing amount of work and not enough candidates to satisfy demand. Fewer workers are joining the construction workforce, in part because of lingering concerns about the layoffs that occurred during the recession. At the same time, greater numbers of seasoned construction professionals are retiring or have left the industry. Because of this, candidates are receiving offers quickly.

That’s why, if you wait too long to make a hiring decision, you might lose candidates to other employers. The companies that have been most proactive and have already streamlined their hiring processes are the ones that are successfully hiring skilled and experienced candidates.

Here are five suggestions for how your company can reduce the time between the first interview and the hiring decision:

1. Conduct interviews as a group. Instead of scheduling a series of one-on-one interviews on different dates, gather your managers, HR representatives, and other hiring authorities together to interview the candidate as a group or individually on the same day. This will reduce the total number of interviews and allow for a set time when all decision makers can discuss candidates together instead of e-mailing back and forth.

2. Research compensation before the interview begins. Compensation rates are changing much more frequently today because of shifts in supply and demand. If you go into the interview process already knowing the fair market rate and the range of what you can reasonably offer and comfortably afford, you can make competitive offers much faster. Also, know the candidate’s salary expectations going into this process so you can decide if his expectations are realistic for your company.

3. Be ready to hire the moment you start interviewing. In the past, construction companies could conduct interviews months before construction in order to line up crews for future projects. That is no longer the case. Make sure the project is a go and you are ready to hire immediately. If you are not ready to hire, then interviews may be a waste of your time. If you try to hire those applicants three months later, you could find they are already working for someone else.

4. Make a faster offer on a contingency basis. If you interview an impressive candidate with a resume that is filled with the exact skills and experience you are looking for, consider offering him a position contingent on the results of all required background and reference checks. You can still take the time to thoroughly vet that candidate after he has accepted your offer.

5. Notify the candidate the moment you decide to hire him. If you interview someone you do want to hire, communicate this to the candidate immediately. The clock is ticking from the moment you conduct the first interview.

Though increased competition for candidates may require some additional work on the part of construction employers, keep in mind that this is a good problem for the industry. This means there is plenty of work and the workers that are out there are energized by the resurgence of the industry. There are a lot of good people on the market. You just may need to work a little faster to get them on your team.

Jerry Wilkins is a vice president of Kimmel & Associates, Asheville, N.C., an executive search firm specializing in the construction industry.