Job interview process takes 10 days longer than it did five years ago

By Quentin Fottrell

Job interviews are getting weirder — and the interview process is getting longer.

The job interview process took an average of 22.9 days last year, up from 12.6 days five years ago, as employment shifts to higher skilled jobs and employers screen potential employees’ skills, characters and personalities and conduct background checks, according to careers website Glassdoor, based on a sample of 344,250 interviews spanning six countries.

One-on-one interviews (68%) and telephone interviews (56%) are still the most popular kinds, and that has changed little since 2010. However, the percentage of job seekers reporting background checks has grown from 25% in 2010 to 42% in 2014. Other interview methods that have grown recently include skills tests (16% to 23%), drug tests (13% to 23%), and personality tests (12% to 18%).

The interview process also varies dramatically by industry: Police officers reported the longest average interview duration (127.6 days), followed by patent examiners (87.6 days), assistant professors (58.7 days), senior vice-presidents (55.5 days) and program analysts (51.8 days), managing directors (51.1 days) and information technology specialists (48.1 days).

In contrast, the shortest job interview processes are typically found among job titles requiring less formal training, such as entry-level marketing jobs (3.9 days), followed by entry-level sales positions (5.4 days), servers and bartenders (5.7 days), entry-level account managers (5.9 days) and dishwashers (6.9 days).

“Personal characteristics of job seekers—including gender, age and highest level of education—have zero statistical effect on interview lengths,” the Glassdoor study found. “All of the recent growth in hiring processes appears to be driven entirely by economywide shifts in the composition of employers, job titles, hiring industries, and company HR policies.”

Companies have more job openings than they did in 2010. “Five years ago, you put a job posting online and, within hours, there would be hundreds of applicants,” says Tim Sackett, president of HRU Technical Resources, an information technology and engineering staffing firm in Lansing, Mich. “People were begging to work. The retirements of baby boomers are also making it very difficult on companies.”

“In a regular economy, organizations would have had succession plans in place to replace our aging workforce,” he says. “The recession didn’t allow us the resources to do this planning, and organizations are paying the price right now. Almost no one did a good job planning for this during the recession. It’s hitting every industry, in every market.”

Employers are also looking for more intangible qualities such as loyalty, says Piera Palazzolo, senior vice president for marketing at Dale Carnegie Training. “It’s wise for employers to take their time and make sure that prospective employees not only have the talent to perform their job, but also have the character traits that fit in with the company’s culture.”

Quentin Fottrell is a personal finance reporter and The Moneyologist columnist http://www.marketwatch.com/column/the-moneyologist  for MarketWatch, http://www.marketwatch.com/Journalists/Quentin_Fottrell. You can follow him on Twitter @quantanamo.

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