IT Job Search Process Takes Too Long

The job interview process is growing longer, but we're not getting better at hiring.

David Wagner, Executive Editor, Community & IT Life

July 9, 2015

4 Min Read
<p align="left">(Image: <a href="" target="_blank">Glassdoor</a>)</p>

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We talk about the IT skills gap a lot, but we haven't talked about how it affects the time it takes to get a new job. Last year, the US hit an all-time high in how long it took companies to fill open jobs, and it looks like the duration will only increase. That's because even as enterprises have trouble finding candidates, they are putting candidates through ever more rigorous screenings before hiring.

The average time it takes enterprises to fill a job is 26.5 working days, according to an August 2014 Dice report. According to a January 2015 study from Indeed, 44% of jobs don't get filled in the first 30 days. And jobs that don't get filled in the first 30 days have a tendency to stay that way for a really long time. According to the Indeed report, more than half (57%) of jobs that don't fill in 30 days remain open for at least three months. It gets even worse in tech, where some of the most sought after jobs take much longer than average to fill.


Part of this has to do with the economy. When the market is tight, fewer qualified candidates are on the market, and companies have to work harder to find them. But if you look at the Dice data on time-to-fill going back to 2001, you can see other good economic times didn't impact it nearly as much.

Interview time is really slowing things down. According to a June 2015 Glassdoor report, the average interview time -- from when a company asks for an interview until an offer is made -- is now 22.9 days and rising. In some of the most coveted tech positions, the interview period alone (not total time to fill) can exceed the complete average time it takes to fill a job in other industries. For example, the average interview period for a software engineer is 35 days; for a product engineer, 28.1 days; and for a hardware engineer, 27 days.

[ Want to know if you are in the middle of a bad interview? Read 10 IT Job Interview Phrases To Make You Run. ]

Glassdoor said the interview time is almost 23 days, and Dice said time to fill is 26.5 days. So, if that's all true, companies are spending only 3.5 days finding candidates, and most of their time sorting among the candidates. And sort they do. While the types of processes that enterprises are using aren't changing much, the number of different processes they are using is increasing. More companies are asking for background checks, for example. Skills tests are rising as well. The only type of screening that is seeing a real decline is intelligence testing.

So we're subjecting candidates to more effort just to get a job, and the time adds up. In fact, Glassdoor added up the average time for each type of screening process. You can follow the chart to find out how long the whole process might take (within a range), if you know what goes into hiring for a particular position. Add all of them together, and you can see how it's taking so long.

Is it worth it? It is hard to say that it is. Employee engagement is at an all-time low, so it isn't like we're doing this and finding great fits. Productivity is down in the last two quarters, and has been basically stagnant for a year or more, so it is hard to say we're finding better workers. Why are we putting everyone through so much effort? The time it takes away from managers is significant. The time it takes from candidates is almost degrading. So, what's the point?

Mostly, the point seems to be about not wanting to make a mistake. Because the skills gap is there, hiring managers don't want to miss out on adding talent when they can. But there's little evidence that all of these extra hoops are improving the process.

What do you think? Do you feel the interview process is getting longer? Are you having to do more to get a job? And do you think it is making the process better? Comment below.

About the Author(s)

David Wagner

Executive Editor, Community & IT Life

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, leadership, and innovation. He has also been a freelance writer for many top consulting firms and academics in the business and technology sectors. Born in Silver Spring, Md., he grew up doodling on the back of used punch cards from the data center his father ran for over 25 years. In his spare time, he loses golf balls (and occasionally puts one in a hole), posts too often on Facebook, and teaches his two kids to take the zombie apocalypse just a little too seriously. 

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