Why The Hiring Process Takes Longer Than Ever

It’s not you. The time it takes for employers to hire is lengthening all over the world. Here’s why.

Why The Hiring Process Takes Longer Than Ever
[Photo: Iain Sarjeant/Getty Image]

Waiting is never easy. But when you’re waiting to hear whether you got a job, it’s even tougher—even when you know exactly what to do to follow up after the interview—and wrote a killer thank-you note to boost your chances.


For those about to embark on a search, expect it to take a long time. In fact, the average interview process now takes 23 days, up from 13 days just four years ago, according to a new report from Glassdoor Economic Research.

You could call it a global epidemic, as the data reveals a lengthy process is the norm in North America, Germany, France, and Australia, even after factoring in differences in job titles, companies, and industries.


The report’s data was based on 344,250 interview reviews in six countries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor between February 2009 through February 2015, and was designed to study the interview process from the job seeker’s perspective, according to Glassdoor’s chief economist Andrew Chamberlain PhD, who asserts that there has been little research done on interview durations from the candidate’s perspective.

When candidates weighed in, several factors impacting the waiting time surfaced.


Location, Location, Location

Cities tend to have industry clusters that play a part in how quickly hiring happens. Silicon Valley’s tech companies, for example, operate in a completely different way than Washington, D.C.’s government organizations, or Houston’s energy businesses. The higher the level of skill required to do the job, the more intensive the interview process, and the longer it takes.

Breaking it down further, the longest times were found here:

  • Washington, D.C.: An average of 34.4 days
  • Portland: An average of 25.3 days
  • Seattle: An average of 25.0 days
  • San Jose: An average of 24.8 days
  • San Francisco: An average of 23.7 days

And the shortest:

  • Miami: An average of 18.6 days
  • Phoenix: An average of 19.1 days
  • Orlando: An average of 19.3 days
  • Tampa: An average of 20.2 days

The hospitality industry dominates in these cities, and offers more lower-skilled, routine jobs that get tend to get filled more quickly.


Most interviews follow a standard question and answer process, whether they start online or in person. However, job candidates have reported a significant increase in the way employers are using other screening methods.

Here’s what happened between 2010 and 2014:

  • Background checks increased from 25% to 42%
  • Skills tests rose from 16% to 23%
  • Drug tests went from 13% to 23%
  • Personality tests from 12% to 18% 

Each additional test added a statistically significant amount to average time required for candidates to go through the hiring process, in some cases adding a full week, according to the report.

Size Matters

Both independent studies and Glassdoor research find that hiring processes lengthen at larger companies, especially those that have expanded into multiple countries. In the U.S., companies with between 10-49 employees have the quickest interview-to-hire process at around 15 days. That number climbs as the company gets larger.

  • At companies with up to 249 employees, hiring takes on average just under 20 days
  • At companies with less than 1000 employees, hiring takes on average 22 days
  • At companies with 1,000 – 9,999 employees, hiring takes on average around 26 days

The report points to two factors influencing this process: Larger employers typically have narrower job descriptions and hire more specialized workers. Bureaucracy at larger organizations adds layers to the candidate review and approval process that slows down decisions.


Titles Matter 

Job titles also have an impact on how long it takes to fill the position. This shouldn’t be too surprising as the process to hire a new medical doctor would definitely be more labor intensive than hiring a waiter.

Jobs that take the longest to for candidates to go through the hiring process include:

  • It takes on average 127.6 days to hire police officers
  • It takes on average 87.6 days to hire patent examiners
  • It takes on average 58.7 days to hire assistant professors
  • It takes on average 55.5 days to hire senior vice presidents
  • It takes on average 51.8 days to hire program analysts

Surprisingly, it takes longer to hire a dishwasher (6.9 days) than it does to hire servers or bartenders (5.7 days).


Zero Impact

Given the size and duration of the survey sample, it is important to note that there were some factors that had no influence on the length of time it took to get through an interview process.
Individual job seeker characteristics such as gender, age, and highest level of education had zero statistical impact on how long it takes to fill a position.

According to Glassdoor, all of the recent lengthening of hiring processes appears to be driven entirely by economy-wide shifts in the composition of employers, job titles, hiring industries, and company HR policies.




About the author

Lydia Dishman is the senior editor for Growth & Engagement for She has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.


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