How long does it take to complete the job interview process?
In 2015, we published Glassdoor’s first study of “hiring delays” based on hundreds of thousands of job interview reviews shared anonymously on Glassdoor. That study revealed big differences in the time it takes to hire across countries, industries and jobs. And it showed that interview processes have gotten much longer in recent years.
In this analysis, we expand our view to 25 countries around the world and show the latest trends in hiring duration during the first half of 2017 compared to a year ago. Let’s have a look at where -- and why -- job interviews move quickly and slowly around the world.
- The longest job interview processes are in Brazil (averaging 39.6 days), France (38.9 days) and Switzerland (37.6 days). The shortest reported interviews are in India (16.1 days), Israel (16.9 days) and Romania (19.2 days).
- A key driver behind interview process duration across countries is differences in labor market regulations and institutions. On average, countries with more flexibility in hiring and firing tend to have shorter interview processes.
- Among U.S. cities, the slowest hiring processes are found in Washington, D.C. (33.2 days), home of many federal government agencies. The fastest hiring processes are found in Kansas City, Kansas (16.9 days), a hub for rail transportation, manufacturing and distribution.
- The U.S. industries with the longest interview processes are Government (53.8 days), Aerospace & Defense (32.6 days) and Energy & Utilities (28.8 days). The sectors with the shortest interview processes are Restaurants & Bars (10.2 days), Private Security (11.6 days) and Supermarkets (12.3 days).
- Companies themselves do appear to have substantial control the length of interview processes. A simple regression analysis shows company-specific factors explain about 14.7 percent of variation in hiring delays around the world, about twice as much as job-specific factors, or factors like industry, location and company size.
Hiring Duration by Country
For this analysis, we looked at 83,921 interview reviews shared anonymously on Glassdoor from 25 countries with at least 100 reviews between January 1, 2017 to June 13, 2017, in which job seekers recorded the length of a recent interview they experienced. Based on these reviews, we’re able to take the pulse of hiring delays so far in 2017 by job title, industry, country and city.
Overall, the average length of job interview processes in 2017 was 23.7 days across all 25 countries in our sample. That’s mostly unchanged from the same period a year ago: the average was 22.5 days during the same period in 2016, about one day shorter. Our 2015 study found that in the U.S. in 2014, the average interview process was 22.9 days.
Across countries, there are big differences in hiring delays around the world. The table below shows average job interview times for 25 countries in our sample. Job seekers in Brazil reported the longest average interview processes of 39.6 days, more than 13 days longer than the global average. It is followed by France (38.9 days), Switzerland (37.6 days), Italy (36.0 days) and Belgium (36.0 days).
By contrast, the country with the shortest interview processes was India at 16.1 days, 7.6 days shorter than the global average. It is followed by Israel (16.9 days), Romania (19.2 days), Canada (20.1 days) and Malaysia (21.7 days).
What explains these big international differences in hiring delays? While many factors are at play, a key driver is differences in labor market regulations and institutions. Put simply, the more difficult it is to hire and fire employees -- and the more institutional and regulatory hurdles faced by hiring companies -- the longer interview processes will generally be.
This pattern is clear in the data. In the figure below, we show the link between average job interview durations and a measure of flexibility in hiring and firing in each country’s labor market published by the World Economic Forum. The dots in the figure correspond to the 25 countries we examined. The vertical axis shows average hiring delays, while the horizontal axis shows an index of flexibility in hiring and firing (the index ranges from 1 to 7, with a higher index meaning more flexible labor market).
Overall, there’s a clear negative relationship in the figure, with longer hiring delays mostly occurring in countries with a less flexible labor markets. Notably, Brazil and France rank among the least flexible labor markets in the world according to the World Economic Forum’s index, which are also the two countries with the longest interview delays in Glassdoor data. While the relationship is noisy with a handful of outliers, overall it suggests a clear link between hiring delays and the flexibility of labor markets.
Interview Process Duration in Global Cities
Next, we examined which cities around the world have the longest and shortest hiring duration. For this analysis, we looked at metro areas in each of the 25 countries in our sample with at least 80 job interview reviews submitted on Glassdoor since January 2017.
In the table below, we show the 25 metros with the slowest job interview processes. Not surprisingly, major cities in Brazil and France top the list. The longest hiring delays were in Sao Paulo, Brazil with an average interview process of 40.2 days. They are followed by Paris, France (37.0 days); Cairo, Egypt (35.9 days); Brussels, Belgium (35.3 days); and Dubai, UAE (34.5 days).
In the United States, Washington D.C. ranked 6th for longest interview processes at 33.2 days, followed by Albany, New York (33.2 days); Richmond, Virginia (27.0 days); Hartford, Connecticut (26.5 days); and San Jose, California (26.5 days).
In the table below, we next show the 25 global metros with the shortest average interview lengths. Overall, several cities in India dominate the list of metros with speedy interview processes. The fastest interviews were in Ahmadabad, India at 9.1 days on average. They are followed by four other cities in India: Hyderabad (14.1 days), Chennai (15.2 days), New Delhi (15.4 days) and Mumbai (16.2 days). The reason many Indian cities top the list is simple: Most of these reported interviews are for IT staffing agencies and tech roles popular among new college grads at fast-growing Indian tech employers. These roles tend to hire quickly, pulling down India’s overall average interview process.
In the United States, the metro area with the shortest interview times was Kansas City, at 16.9 days, followed by Oklahoma City (17.9 days); Akron, Ohio (18.0 days), Columbia, Missouri (18.3 days); and Rochester, New York (18.6 days).
Industries Hiring Fast and Slow
In past research we’ve seen big differences in hiring delays by industry. For a variety of reasons, some industries are able to screen candidates quickly, while others rely on more lengthy and intense interview processes. Which industries are hiring quickly and slowly in 2017?
In the table below, we show average interview times by U.S. industry (we only looked at U.S. reviews in this part of our analysis). The industry with the slowest interviews by far is Government at 53.8 days -- more than twice the U.S. average. It is followed by Aerospace & Defense (32.6 days), Energy & Utilities (28.8 days), Biotech & Pharmaceuticals (28.1 days) and the Nonprofit sector (25.2 days). The fast-growing Internet & Tech industry ranks near the middle of the pack, at 24.4 days.
The industry with the shortest interview processes is Restaurants & Bars at just 10.2 days. They are followed by several other industries that rely heavily on lower-skilled roles with skills that can be quickly and easily screened for in interviews: Private Security (11.6 days), Supermarkets (12.3 days), Automotive (12.7 days) and Beauty & Fitness (13.2 days).
Jobs Hiring Fast and Slow
Some jobs are simple and move quickly through interviews, while others require lengthy processes to identify the right candidate. Which jobs today have the longest and shortest interviews?
In the table below, we show the 25 jobs with the longest interview processes in 2017 (as above, we only look at U.S. reviews for this part of our analysis). To be included in our sample, jobs had to have at least 30 U.S. reviews since January 2017.
The job with the slowest interview process today is professor, at 60.3 days -- a two-month academic interview process that’s more than twice the U.S. average. That is followed by business systems analyst (44.8 days) and research scientist (44.6 days). Interestingly, flight attendant ranks as having the 4th longest interview process at 43.6 days, while communications specialist ranks 5th at 42.5 days. One of today’s most in-demand tech role of software development engineer ranks 6th at 40.8 days.
In the next table, we shows the 25 jobs with the shortest interview processes in 2017. The job with the fastest interview time in America is waiter at just 8.0 days. That’s followed by retail representative (8.5 days), delivery driver (8.5 days), brand ambassador (8.6 days), and hair stylist (9.0 days). In general, jobs with easy-to-verify skills, flexible labor markets, and high turnover tend to have the shortest average interview processes.
Do Company Policies Matter?
When it comes to hiring delays, some factors are within the control of hiring managers while others are not. For example, employers can choose how many screening processes to use -- such as group panel interviews, skills tests, candidate presentations and more -- each adding time to hiring processes. On the other hand, some factors are beyond the control of hiring managers, like the industry, city or country they are hiring in.
How much can companies control interview delays? One way to examine this is by fitting a series of regression models to our interviews data, to examine what percentage of overall hiring delays are “explained” by each factor: company specific factors, job specific factors, and all other factors like industry, country, company size and more).
Our results are shown in the figure below. We find that company specific factors -- that is, a set of binary indicators for each specific employer who conducted the interview -- explained 14.7 percent of variation in hiring delays. In other words, knowing what specific company was doing the hiring explains about 15 percent of the differences we see in hiring delays across all interviews in our sample.
By contrast, factors that are specific to the individual job title being hired for explain only about 7.3 percent of hiring delays. Similarly, all other factors combined -- including country, metro, industry, type of employer (publicly traded, private, nonprofit, etc.) and number of employees -- explained only about 7.2 percent of hiring delays.
This suggests that although companies can’t completely control hiring delays, individual company policies do seem to play an important role in the length of job interview durations. Company factors -- such as the number and type of interview “screens” used by hiring managers -- explain about twice as much of hiring delays as other factors that are largely beyond the control of employers, such as the industry, location and job title being hired for.
Although long interview processes are costly -- both in terms of lost productivity for employers and foregone salaries for workers -- they are not always wasteful. Companies face a tradeoff between more carefully screening job seekers and filling vacant roles as quickly as possible. If slower hiring processes result in better hires, those delays can be good for the business long term. If not, they can be wasteful and risk losing top candidates to the competition.
A key takeaway from our analysis is that employers should be aware of this balance. Are extra interview layers being added because they have proven to select better candidates? Or are they simply an additional process that puts the brakes on hiring? By shedding light on interview times around the world, we hope this analysis helps employers benchmark their own hiring processes against others in their industry, city and country.
(1) See World Economic Forum, “The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016,” index of hiring and firing practices by country. Available at http://reports.weforum.org/global-competitiveness-report-2015-2016/labor-market-efficiency/.
(2) To estimate the percentage of hiring delays “explained” by each set of factors, we fit three linear models via OLS, one for each set of factors: Company specific factors, job title specific factors, and all other factors. Company and job title factors are modeled via company and job title specific fixed effects. We then compared the adjusted R-squared for each model to assess the overall explanatory power of each set of factors. For computational simplicity, our estimates are based on a 10 percent random sample of our full data set, or N = 8,000 observations.