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Time Matters When Interviewing Candidates

Time Matters When Interviewing Candidates

By MarkD

This was a company I did the first 3 rounds with two weeks ago.

I decided to pull my name for consideration because they were working to schedule rounds 4-9 of the interview process with me..”  – Mike Conley


Mike Conley is a highly skilled, experienced VP of Software Engineering that would be a great asset to any company.  He was recently interviewing for a position at another company that he was really interested in working with. The role was ideal, with the pay he wanted, benefits, and a company mission he supported. Unfortunately, Mike pulled his name out of the running and there are some important lessons companies can learn from Mike’s situation to avoid losing great candidates through the interview process.


When Mike withdrew his name, he had been through 3 interviews and was waiting for his 4th.  There were 3 main problems.  First, it had been 2 weeks since his last interview and they were still working to schedule the next.  Second, Mike thought he was waiting for a 4th interview, but then learned he was waiting for interviews 4 through 9.  Finally, the interview process didn’t seem to be organized or have an end in sight.  With the lack of communication, planning, and respect for his time, Mike decided the company wasn’t where he wanted to work.  To make sure you avoid losing great candidates, let’s look at why time matters for both sides in the interview process.


How Long Should Your Interview Process Take?


With nearly every job opportunity, candidates can expect to have more than one interview.  The first is usually a phone interview.  This is often with someone whose purpose it is to narrow down the field of prospects.  Typically, a video interview would follow with a supervisor or department head.  Depending on the role, the next interview could be in person.  A more senior level position can often mean more interviews, and that makes sense since there’s a lot riding on finding the right fit.  Regardless of whether your company’s process is 2 interviews or 9 (though it really shouldn’t be 9), time matters when interviewing candidates.


According to an article published by The Balance Careers, it takes an average of 24.5 days (3.5 weeks) for new college graduates to get an offer after their first interview.   That process tends to take longer as the job level increases.  According to Algrim.co, the average time from interview to offer is between 20 to 40 days.  While there is nothing wrong with having a longer interview process, there are some inherent concerns and potential pitfalls (aka ‘cons’) so you’re more prepared and can adjust your process to be ideal for your ‘pros’.


If you have a lengthy interview process:


  • The candidate can feel like they aren’t in your top choices
  • The candidate can lose interest in the position 
  • Prospects can lose faith in your company if it appears you have no game plan
  • You can lose the best candidates who are also pursuing other opportunities


However, this doesn’t mean you should make a hasty decision.  Make no mistake, this is a big, important decision.  Rushing the process could have just as many negative repercussions as having a process that never ends.


If you have a short interview process:


  • The candidate can feel rushed and get the sense you are desperate to fill the position
  • The candidate can also get the impression that you are not organized
  • You could hire the wrong candidate because you didn’t vet them thoroughly


There are several reasons why an interview process can be longer or shorter.  Even within the same company.  A larger company with more department heads and supervisors might take longer than a smaller company with fewer key players.  An ERP Implementation Consultant might not have to undergo as many interviews as a Director of Technology.


How to Improve the Process No Matter How Long it Is


It’s not wrong if your company has a shorter or longer interview process. The process taking 2 weeks or 5 weeks isn’t the problem.  The biggest issue candidates have is not knowing.  When I say that time matters when interviewing candidates, I’m referring to candidates knowing what to expect.  If the timeline is clearly laid out in the beginning, they can decide whether to continue with the process if it’s a long one or be prepared to make a decision quickly if it’s a short one.


Before your search for candidates even begins, you should know who will conduct the interviews, the interview method (phone, video, in person), how many interviews there will be, and who will make the offer.  You should also have a plan to collaborate with everyone involved in the process after each interview and have everyone “on deck” ready to give feedback or schedule interviews as soon as possible.  So much time is wasted with excuses like, “Oh, I’m waiting to hear what Mike thought about the candidate.”  


If you have a clear plan to start, your team is all on board, and you communicate your process to your potential candidate along the way, you have a much better chance of keeping and hiring the best candidate for your position.  Remember, the time you spend not talking to your candidate is much more costly than the time it takes to run through the process.  Your candidate needs to see the light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long the tunnel is.  That’s why it’s so crucial to understand how much time matters when interviewing candidates.

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