Here’s how long the hiring process for that tech job will take

A new analysis of Glassdoor interview reviews finds that the average time-to-hire for all jobs has been increasing for years because employers are using more screening methods

A sign that looks like the Batman logo that says Wait Time
Credit: Jackie CC BY 2.0

If you’re a tech worker looking for a job these days, the news continues to be generally quite good. In fact, if tech jobs were candy, they’d be Good & Plenty. However, based on the results of a new study of job hiring data, there is one minor downside to searching for many jobs in technology today; namely, that the hiring process is taking an increasingly longer amount of time, at least in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.

Those findings come from a new study led by Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, the Chief Economist at the career site Glassdoor. Chamberlain analyzed over 340,000 interview reviews submitted to Glassdoor from February 2009 through February 2015 by workers in six countries: the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, the U.K., and Australia. The positions covered 74,000 unique job titles (not just for tech) with over 62,000 employers.

Here are some of the key findings and how they pertain to tech.

More complex jobs means a longer time-to-hire

Chamberlain found that the average time-to-hire for workers in the U.S. across all jobs was 22.9 days, with more complex jobs taking longer to fill. For example, it took, on average, 87.6 days to hire a patent examiner, as opposed to 5.7 days for a bartender. Not surprisingly, then, a number of tech jobs have a longer-than-average hiring period. In the U.S., here was the average time-to-hire for tech positions with at least 30 interview reviews:

  1. Software Engineer 35 days
  2. Senior Applications Developer 28.3 days
  3. Product Engineer 28.1 days
  4. Implementation Specialist 27.8 days
  5. Hardware Engineer 27.0 days
  6. Quality Assurance 25.9 days
  7. Data Engineer 25.8 days
  8. Database Administrator 25.5 days
  9. Web Applications Developer 23.5 days
  10. Data Scientist 23.2 days
  11. Financial Software Developer 19.9 days
  12. User Experience Designer 19.3 days
  13. QA Engineer 17.9 days
  14. Junior Software Engineer 15.7 days
  15. iOS Developer 14.1 days
  16. .NET Developer 14.0 days
  17. QA Tester 13.9 days
  18. Java Developer 12.5 days
  19. Web Designer 12.3 days
  20. Data Entry 8.5 days

Interestingly, the time-to-hire for Java, .NET, and iOS developers were actually lower than the overall U.S. average. This could simply reflects a particularly hot job market for those specific roles.

Update (7/8/15): I reached out to Dr. Chamberlain to get his theory on why the times-to-hire for these particular jobs are shorter than average. He shares my opinion that it’s most likely due to the demand for those particular types of developers. "There are many factors affecting time to hire, and the tightness of particular labor markets is certainly one," he told me via email. "As we explain in the study, employers face a tradeoff: the longer they take to screen candidates, the better matches they get. But that’s at the cost of possibly losing candidates to other employers if those delays drag on too long. Java, .NET and iOS developers are among the tightest labor markets in the nation today, and that likely explains the shorter hiring times reported for these candidates. Although these are highly skilled positions that usually take longer to hire, it’s likely employers are moving quickly to avoid losing top candidates to their competitors."

The average time-to-hire has increased significantly since 2010

Across all jobs, Chamberlain found that in 2010 the average time-to-hire in the U.S. was just 12.6, meaning it’s increased by 80% in the last five years. While the average time-to-hire differed significantly across the six countries, Chamberlain found similar growth in the time it takes to fill a job in Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, or Australia over the last five years. After formally controlling for a number of factors such as country, employer, title, outcome, and job seeker demographics (age, gender, education), Chamberlain still found a statistically significant increase in the length of the hiring process since 2010. The data, he wrote, “offers convincing evidence that job interview processes have indeed grown longer in recent years.”

Industry and company size affect time-to-hire

Probably not surprisingly, time-to-hire varies by industry, with government employers taking the longest to hire and public companies taking longer than private ones. Also, Chamberlain found the difference in company size to have a statistically significant effect on time-to-hire, with bigger companies tending to take longer to hire than smaller companies. In the U.S. companies with between 5k and 100k employees took the longest (just over 25 days), while those with between 10 and 50 employees were the quickest (15 days).

Companies are using more screening methods

Aside from the differences caused by location, industry type, and company size, Chamberlain found that biggest thing causing an increase in time-to-hire is the use of more screening tests during the interview process. He found that, in particular, background checks, went from being used in 25% of interviews in the U.S. across all jobs in 2010 to 42% of in 2014. Also, he found increases in the use of skills tests (16% to 23%), drug tests (13% to 23%), and personality tests (12% to 18%). “...each of these additional employer ‘screens’ adds a statistically significant amount to average time required for interview processes, in some cases adding a full week to the job interview process,” Chamberlain wrote.

You can read Chamberlain’s detailed study by downloading the PDF from the Glassdoor site.

The upshot seems to be that, most tech workers, despite a booming job market here in the U.S. and elsewhere, should expect their job searches to only get longer as time goes on.

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