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7/9/2015
09:06 AM
David Wagner
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IT Job Search Process Takes Too Long

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

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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.

(Image: Ximagination/iStockphoto)

(Image: Ximagination/iStockphoto)

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.

(Image: Glassdoor)

(Image: Glassdoor)

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.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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MaddieP
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MaddieP,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/16/2015 | 7:53:36 AM
Re: Interviewing is Often Done Incorrectly
It depend in which business you are. In France (where I come from), xhen you got an interview in technology way, you got a good storie that's ok like you say. But if you are looking for example for a drive job, you'll need more than a good story to tell to get the job that you need. Yesterday there were 30 personns to candidate for 2 posts only in my job company ! When I arrived five years ago, you were sure to be test at the minimum !
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/15/2015 | 2:47:27 PM
Re: Interviewing is Often Done Incorrectly
From an HR perspective, that 90 day probationary period is dangerous. It can imply a "contract" with the employee that they can only be fired with cause. The HR policy has to be spell out in writing very carefully and the courts have ruled negatively when it's not. The 3-day work sample is actually still part of the interview process.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
7/15/2015 | 9:49:20 AM
Re: Interviewing is Often Done Incorrectly
That's really the problem. Another observation from my side is that, the interview loop involved more interviewers but repeated questions were asked. The candidate just need to prepare one or two good stories to get through.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/14/2015 | 5:54:52 PM
Re: Interviewing is Often Done Incorrectly
@TerryB - This is a great story! Hanging in there for this initial "test" is half the battle - it shows grit and perserverance. Gone are the days of the "apprentice" for the most part - I personally think this is a huge mistake in the US. European countries still utilize it as a tool to ensure an employee will perform well and stay on with the company.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
7/13/2015 | 3:19:54 PM
Slow and still risky!

Dave I have to say the averages look pretty good from my experience the time to get a body in the seat from an interview is about 3 months if you find the right candidate quickly. There is so much involved from drug testing to negotiations, to multiple interviews the process is always lengthy. Then there is always the risk the candidate changes their mind or gets a counter offer from their current employer. I never rest assured until they are in the job for several months.

vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/13/2015 | 1:52:38 PM
Re: Interviewing is Often Done Incorrectly
As an aside, for a developer you can also give them a project to take home to complete. It won't give you an idea if they will fit in the org but you will at least know if they can do the work or not.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
7/13/2015 | 1:48:03 PM
Re: Interviewing is Often Done Incorrectly
>>hire the person for 3 days to get a work sample.

@vnewman2, I had to chuckle at that comment. Back when I was going to college I applied for a job as a Culligan (Water Conditioning) route driver. Your job was to haul those metal cylinder filters into people's basements and haull out the old one. One weighed about 140 and the other close to 180 lbs. You also delivered 40 lb bags of salt. A route about 20-30 stops a day.

Anyway, after Culligan did interview and decided to give you a chance, the next step was to come in on a Friday and run a route with existing guy. If you actually came back on Monday then you had the job. :-)

I was in terrific shape back then, played basketball all the time. I was never so sore in my life than the weekend after running that route. But I took job, actually grew to like it.

But point is the employer mindset was much same as you suggest in IT hire, the probability of failure in hire was greater than it being a success. So they came up with that approach to avoid completely processing a new employee when many never came back after first day.

In IT, I think a 90 day probation period might work better than a 3 day period but I think you are correct in your theory. You can't talk to someone in interview for awhile and figure out what you really have. Just too many unique skill sets needed to be a complete IT guy, at least once you get off the very lowest rungs of IT work.
Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
7/13/2015 | 2:13:52 AM
Re: IT shortage caused by lack of training by employers
"This is a catch-22 for enterprises, and will result in them not being able to find experienced people. You have to create that experience, and if you lose people, then it is likely because of not engaging those people and challenging them technically."

SKDEV, in most of the cases, it's may not be due to challenging jobs or any other technical things. It's merely by getting attracted for other perks and packages. I used to take fresher's and train them; but when they feel that they are capable for handle the job independently, they start looking for switching the companies.
Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
7/13/2015 | 2:03:49 AM
Recruiting process and time frames
"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."

David, I think such time frames can be varied on requirement basis. I know for live projects they are recruiting peoples on urgency basis, where the entire process including the joining time is less than 10 days. But for open positions it might take more time.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/12/2015 | 6:23:34 PM
Re: Interviewing is Often Done Incorrectly
I never said I had the answers of how you're supposed to work out the logistics. I just gave the facts of what's been studied and proven to work by organizational psychology. It's a non-factor for those in between jobs or recent graduates though. Anyway, psychological assessment testing can reveal a great deal about the traits of the person they don't present in an interview setting. But it takes some prior thought by HR: what kind of traits typically succeed in this type of position? You have to identify them beforehand. Interviewers who don't have any experience in organizational dynamics are lousy judges of someone's personality. They typically end up hiring someone they feel is just like them - which isn't always what's needed for that position. Refer to the "halo effect." Few people work in complete isolation these days. You need to hire someone that's fits the organization as well as the position. Most people haven't have a clue how to do that. One or two people's subjective opinion (interview) doesn't do the trick.
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