Sometimes it seems like by the time you hear back from a job, you’ve forgotten you ever applied! So why does the hiring process take so long?
Hiring is a complicated process and though it may frustrate candidates, sometimes an extended hiring period is necessary to ensure the organization makes the right decision.
Hiring impacts all other aspects of your business, so it’s best not to rush through the process. But what factors impact the length of the hiring process? And how long should the process really take?
Typical Hiring Process Timeline
From the employer’s perspective, the hiring process is much more complex than it is for applicants. Making a good hire involves advertising the position to attract talent, screening applications, scheduling interviews, and checking references.
When recruiters receive a lot of applications, this process can take weeks or even months. Still, making the process as efficient as possible can help you lock down top talent before they accept a competing offer.
1. Pre-Screening Stage
Advertising a new position is the first step of hiring. Many recruiters use LinkedIn, job boards such as Indeed, or platforms like Facebook or Instagram to share job descriptions with potential candidates and make it easy for them to submit an application.
Sometimes, a passive candidate is the most desirable option. A passive candidate is someone who is not actively looking for a job but may be interested in a new opportunity if one is presented to them.
In these cases, recruiters will spend time reaching out to passive candidates, making connections, and trying to persuade them to pursue a new opportunity.
After advertising the vacancy and recruiting passive candidates, it’s time to screen the applications you’ve received.
Screening typically includes the time and resources it takes your HR department to review resumes and assess candidates’ qualifications and fit. Also, consider investing in tools for pre-screening assessments in the form of written or video questionnaires.
These tools provide an opportunity for a candidate to respond to a few preliminary questions before scheduling an interview, which can save time by weeding out people who are not the right fit for your organization.
Automating some stages of the screening process with an applicant tracking system, also known as ATS, will save your recruiters time and energy and allow them to focus on thoroughly vetting new candidates.
Still, screening isn’t a process to be rushed, as you’ll want to ensure that the best candidates make it to the interview stage.
3. Initial Interviews
Scheduling interviews with qualified candidates can also be a slow process. Especially if they’re currently employed elsewhere, it can take a while to find the time to sit down with them, either in person or virtually.
Of course, there is software to help. Interview-scheduling software can automate the scheduling process and remind interviewers and interviewees of their upcoming commitments. In fact, some ATS software already has these features incorporated, so you won’t have to add on a new subscription.
To keep the process fair, recruiters won’t make a decision about who moves on to the next round of hiring until they’ve completed all initial interviews. That means that even if candidates interview early, they likely won’t hear back for a few weeks until all other candidates have been interviewed.
4. Assessment and Evaluation Stage
Once all initial interviews have been completed, recruiters will analyze what they learned from applicants’ resumes and interviews to decide who proceeds to the final rounds of hiring.
Hiring managers will take their time reviewing the information on each candidate and may meet with recruiters to consult before they make a final decision about who to interview again.
5. Final Interviews and Selection
Finally, the top candidates will interview with the hiring manager, their potential supervisor, or another decision-maker. Again, scheduling these interviews may take time, especially if the interviewer has a busy schedule.
Once they are complete, candidates can expect to hear back in a week or two once the final decision is made. You should plan for some delay before their start date, as currently employed candidates will need to provide their employer with two to three weeks’ notice.
Of course, even once the candidate comes aboard, catching new hires up to speed can also drag out the time to hire, or the time between a position opening up and officially being filled.
Factors That Can Impact the Hiring Process Timeline
If all goes according to plan, most vacancies will be filled in three to six weeks. However, there are numerous factors that can affect this timeline, which makes it difficult to predict with certainty exactly how long the hiring process will take.
A recent iCIMS report found that on average, it took 41 days to fill a role in 2023. Of course, this number will vary depending on your industry, location, and level of skills needed.
Number of Candidates
The number of candidates applying for a job can impact how long it takes to fill the position, especially if many have the proper qualifications.
Though receiving a lot of applications allows recruiters to be more selective in deciding who to interview, it will also slow down the overall hiring process as it takes time to sift through a large number of resumes.
AI tools can help recruiters process many candidates more efficiently by utilizing score fit and other technology in many CRM and ATS software.
Complexity of the Role
The complexity of the role also has a significant impact on how long it takes to fill it. For example, hiring a cashier in a supermarket can be accomplished fairly quickly. Even if candidates don’t have previous experience, most necessary skills are fairly intuitive or can be learned quickly.
On the other hand, more complex positions that require a higher level of specialized knowledge are harder to fill. Especially if the stakes are high, employers will want to make sure that candidates have the skills they say they do.
Hiring managers can corroborate a candidate’s experience by assigning them assessments to test their knowledge, calling their previous employers, or asking them to complete a mock assignment that will demonstrate their competence in their field.
Internal Processes and Key Decision-Makers
Once the hiring team has made a final decision, they often need a senior manager to sign off before extending a job offer. If that person is unavailable or too busy, the process will grind to a halt until they can approve the decision.
Sometimes, even if time management isn’t an issue, organizations will drag their feet in making a final decision. Some employers may have extremely high expectations for a new hire, and will try to endure the vacancy until the “ideal” candidate comes along.
In most cases, this just isn’t realistic. Though there’s a small chance of missing out on the best possible candidate, most of the time, extending the hiring process will cause other qualified candidates to move on and damage your team’s productivity by keeping them understaffed.
Obviously, important hiring decisions shouldn’t be rushed, but dragging them out unnecessarily can negatively affect the organization.
The hiring process takes a long time for many reasons, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it should. Some time-consuming stages are unavoidable, especially when candidates take a long time to respond or schedule interviews weeks out.
Still, there are factors within the employer’s control that can be adjusted to streamline the hiring process. These factors include creating clear job descriptions, advertising on the right platforms, and optimizing the screening process for speed and accuracy.
Frequent communication with candidates can also improve the hiring process, as maintaining accurate expectations will improve the candidates’ experience and possibly prevent miscommunications that waste time.
Though it’s normal for hiring to take about a month, it will benefit your organization to try to shorten its timeline to keep qualified candidates interested and maintain workflow for current employees.
FAQs on How Long Does the Hiring Process Takes
What are the downsides of a long hiring process?
An unnecessarily long hiring process negatively affects both applicants and your current team. Most job seekers submit many applications to different companies. If they feel frustrated by an inefficient hiring process, they’ll be more likely to jump on an offer from a competitor. Especially because qualified candidates are usually in high demand, this will cause your organization to lose out on the best available talent. Additionally, the longer the position remains unfilled, the longer your team will have to pick up the slack. This can heighten feelings of burnout and frustration, as well as reduce the organization’s overall productivity.
How can organizations streamline the hiring process?
Organizations can streamline the hiring process by optimizing job descriptions, leveraging technology for initial screenings and interviews, implementing pre-employment assessments, creating a standardized process, and communicating regularly with candidates throughout the process. Additionally, involving key stakeholders and decision-makers in the process and ensuring their availability can expedite decision-making.
What are the benefits of streamlining the hiring process?
The benefits of streamlining the hiring process include attracting top talent, reducing the risk of losing candidates to competitors, improving the candidate experience, and positively impacting the employer’s brand and reputation. Streamlining the process can also reduce costs associated with a prolonged hiring process and increase productivity by hiring the right candidate quickly.
How much does it cost to hire a new employee?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to how much it costs to hire a new employee. Figuring out what your business spends on hiring involves totaling all hiring costs per year and dividing that by the number of new hires successfully onboarded.