Job Seekers Are Facing Longer Hiring Times

Dr. Andrew Chamberlain

June 18, 2015

It’s not just your imagination. It really is taking longer to get though the job interview process in recent years. That’s the conclusion of a new research paper from Glassdoor Economic Research titled “Why Is Hiring Taking Longer?”. The study examined a sample of more than 340,000 job interview reviews posted anonymously on Glassdoor. We studied whether hiring is moving faster or slower today compared to previous years—both in the U.S. and in five other countries around the world. Where Do Interviews Take Longest? The results were eye-opening. We found job interview processes vary dramatically around the world. What economists call “job matching” takes much longer in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom compared to the U.S. and Canada—in some cases more than a week. The figure below shows the average time for hiring processes by country in 2014, which ranged from 22.1 days in Canada to 31.9 days in France. chart1 Hiring Times Are On the Rise In every country we examined, the time required for hiring processes is trending upward in recent years. Once we carefully controlled for other economic factors we found hiring times have grown by about 3.3 to 3.7 days on average since 2009. That trend remains even after accounting for shifts in job titles, companies, industries and job seeker demographics during that period. The figure below shows the overall upward trend in interview times around the world. chart2 Hiring Policies Matter What’s causing longer hiring processes? One factor seems to be the types of job interview “screening” methods used by employers. Each additional “screen”—such as requiring a group panel interview, background check, presentation, skills tests, and more—each add significantly to hiring times. For example, the simple act of requiring a group panel interview adds a statistical week to job interview processes. The table below shows how much each interview screening method adds to hiring times, once we’ve statistically controlled for many other factors. Taken together, these small hiring delays from additional interview screens can add up. Extra Days Added by Various Job Interview Screening Methods
Interview Method Average Days Added to Hiring Process
Phone Interview +6.8 to +8.2 days
One-on-One Interview +4.1 to +5.3 days
Group Panel Interview +5.6 to +6.8 days
Presentation +2.7 to +4.2 days
IQ Intelligence Test +2.6 to +4.4 days
Job Skills Test +0.6 to +1.5 days
Personality Test +0.9 to +1.3 days
Drug Test +0.3 to +0.8 days
Background Check +3.1 to +3.4 days
Source: Glassdoor Economic Research, “Why Is Hiring Taking Longer? New Insights from Glassdoor Data,” by Dr. Andrew Chamberlain. One possibility is that slower hiring times are actually good for companies. After all, more careful screening of job seekers may lead to better matches with candidates, especially for complex jobs that require hard-to-observe skills like creativity and judgment. Perhaps those longer hiring delays are simply a reflection of our economy’s shift toward high-skilled jobs in tech, health care and professional services. On the other hand, there’s evidence that some hiring delays are probably wasteful. For example, we find larger companies take dramatically longer to hire candidates than small and mid-sized firms. Are bigger companies really getting much better job matches than their mid-sized competitors? Probably not. Instead, the slowing hiring processes at the world’s biggest employers—particularly for government employers—are likely due to creeping bureaucracy in the hiring process. How Job Matching Affects the Economy Delays in the hiring process can have a profound effect on people, companies and the economy. Longer hiring times can mean lost productivity in the workplace, foregone wages for job seekers, and longer unemployment spells in the economy. While some of the growth in hiring delays probably reflects the need for more carefully screened job candidates, there’s also evidence that some delays could be avoided with more streamlined hiring processes. As employers balance the tradeoff between screening and hiring delays, this study helps quantify the impact of today’s hiring policies on hiring times for the first time, and helps economists better understand the impact on job matching throughout the economy. (Download the full study,“Why Is Hiring Taking Longer? New Insights from Glassdoor Data” here.)

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