The Interview Process Got Longer in 2017


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​Job candidates are waiting longer in 2017, on average, to get all the way through the job interview process, according to new research from Glassdoor.

The Mill Valley, Calif.-based employer review site concluded that the average interviewing time (from start to finish of the hiring process) for the first half of the year has been 23.8 days, almost a full day more compared with 2014’s average of 22.9 days.

The study compiled data from nearly 84,000 interview reviews shared on the site, where job seekers recorded the length of a recent interview process they experienced during the first six months of the year.

Among major U.S. cities, the slowest interview processes were found in Washington, D.C. (33.2 days). That finding isn’t surprising, as government jobs take the longest to fill—an average of 53.8 days. Other industries with longer than average hiring durations were aerospace and defense (32.6 days) and energy and utilities (28.8 days). The fast-growing technology sector ranks near the middle, at 24.4 days.

​The fastest interview processes were found in Kansas City, Kan. (16.9 days), a hub for rail transportation, manufacturing and distribution.

The sectors with the shortest interview processes were restaurants and bars (10.2 days), private security (11.6 days) and supermarkets (12.3 days).

Among occupations, professor (60.3 days), business systems analyst (44.8 days), and research scientist (44.6 days) wait the longest during the hiring process. Software development engineer ranks 6th at 40.8 days.

Jobs with the shortest interview durations are waiter (8.0 days), retail clerk (8.5 days) and delivery driver (8.5 days).

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Interviewing Candidates]

Company Policies Hit the Brakes

​”For a variety of reasons, some industries are able to screen candidates quickly, while others rely on more lengthy and intense interview processes,” said Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist. “In general, jobs with easy-to-verify skills, flexible labor markets and high turnover tend to have the shortest average interview processes.”

But the main culprit behind longer interview times is company policies, Chamberlain found. “Company factors, such as the number and type of interview screens used by hiring managers explain about twice as much of hiring delays as other factors that are largely beyond the control of employers, such as the industry, location and job title being hired for.”

One reason for the lengthened hiring process, experts agree, is that companies are conducting more background checks, pre-hire assessments and additional interview rounds.

“Companies have to be really careful when designing their recruiting programs,” said Corey Berkey, SHRM-SCP, director of human resources at JazzHR, a recruitment software platform based in Pittsburgh. “Anything less than top efficiency will result in the loss of great candidates.” 

As team and panel interviews become more popular, the cumbersome nature of consensus-driven decision-making can become a major culprit in hiring delays. “Everyone feels they need to give their opinion on the candidate,” said Danielle Weinblatt, co-founder and CEO of New York City-based ConveyIQ, a provider of automation software that facilitates communication and feedback during the interview process. “Sometimes a company has 30 rounds of interviews!”

Weinblatt said the biggest problems she has seen in the interview screening process are hiring managers who consistently reschedule interviews, who delay their feedback on candidates or who don’t respond to recruiters asking for feedback.

Streamlining Your Interview Screening Process

​Weinblatt provided the following tips for expediting hiring while keeping the candidate’s experience in mind:

  • Create and follow a structured interview process. “That means having a plan in place that can be followed with regard to interview guides, assessment criteria and how feedback gets submitted and to whom,” she said.
  • Cultivate an honest relationship with hiring managers. “The best recruiters work as strategic business partners with their hiring managers,” she said. That means creating an informed search strategy, having hiring managers commit to filling a role within a certain period and ensuring they are actively engaged in the hiring process.
  • Stay engaged with candidates. “Once the screening process starts, active communication and respectful candidate engagement is key,” Weinblatt said. “Recruiters should be constantly asking candidates about their status and letting them know that they are still interested, especially since [candidates] are interviewing with competitors.”

Technology can be instrumental in making the recruiting and selection process more efficient by automating rejection e-mails, interview requests and feedback on candidates.

“Platforms that offer a centralization of all interviewer feedback on respective candidates highlight the top candidates for an employer right off the bat, making the decision process easier and more efficient,” Berkey said. 

“Beyond that key step is leveraging technology to automate verification of past employment, background checks and reference checks. Do your best to build an HR technology stack comprised of platforms that will communicate well with one another—doing this allows you to be more efficient and reach those prized candidates with your offer letter first.”

Another thing to remember: While a long interview process is costly, it’s not always wasteful. “Companies face a tradeoff between more carefully screening job seekers and filling vacant roles as quickly as possible,” Chamberlain said. “If slower hiring processes result in better hires, those delays can be good for the business long-term. If not, they can be wasteful and risk losing top candidates to the competition.” 

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