Why is the Interview Process So Long?

Why does it take so bloody long to hire people? One would think that after the review of a résumé or online application, a phone interview and in-person interview, an offer should be tendered. Just a whimsical fantasy most of the time.

We have seen a dramatic hiring change since the current economic crisis (officially) began in 2008. It used to be easy. One interview, a few references checks, then an offer. Now, we are experiencing multi-month interview processes. It’s very simple: companies want to make sure that a bad hire doesn’t happen. This is no different from manufacturer to distributor to agency. With few exceptions, companies are requesting to see more candidates than ever before. Does that mean that those ‘extra’ candidates are worthwhile? Not necessarily. In any given region and for any job opening, there could be a multitude of good fits or only a handful; if at all.

More people to interview equals more time spent in vetting them out. While it also creates options for the hiring manager, it only works if those candidates meet the mandates of the open position in the first place.

If a company handles the entire hiring process themselves (without a recruiter), sorting through piles of résumés, emails or job boards takes a long time; even if one knows the qualities and experience they are looking for. Tragically, some companies have internal folks that don’t completely understand how previous experience can translate into a good fit. This means that good people fall through the cracks and don’t get considered. Who did they miss out on?

Once the phone interview is over, and there is enough interest to move forward, an in-person interview is scheduled and completed.

At this point, the hiring company has invested between three to four hours in one candidate. Break it down: one hour phone interview, one hour office meeting and add in the behind the scenes process of reviewing a résumé, discussing with others within the company, emails sent and received, phone calls made to the candidate to determine mutual interest, and then setting up the initial phone dialog.

And that’s just one person! Once we start multiplying those hours into more potential applicants, we can easily see why just that small part of the process takes up so much time. Depending upon everyone’s schedules (both interviewers and candidates) things always gets pushed back days or weeks.

Ah, but we’re not done yet. Once there is a determination of a potential fit comes a second interview to discuss things more seriously. Again, if there are multiple contenders, this will add more time, but that’s ok. It’s when it starts getting to a third or fourth interview that things become unnecessary and really unfair to a candidate. Unless the position is a C-level, VP or above level, interviews should never go beyond a second in-person interview. Any other scrutinization can and should be done over the phone or conducted via Skype or another type of video interview.

We are finally at the end of an exhausting but necessary process. After all of the interviews, the social network investigations (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, etc.), reference checks and background checks, an offer will be made. Hopefully patience and continued enthusiasm for both the company and candidate have not waned. Who is going to get the offer? Or, better yet, who is left after this process? Sometimes it is the person who has had the luxury of being able to wait. Others have moved on to other companies, decided that they are staying where they are or grew frustrated after waiting so long.

Interviewing people is still going to take a while as long as companies want to find and hire the best. People need to make sure that they are prepared to wait and just go with the flow.

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