Two tricks to cut your interview time in half

Gillian O'Brien

Why does it take some companies 3 months to hire for a role and others 3 weeks?

A lot of it comes down to process.

To speed up your hiring, you need to make sure that you're running a tight interview process. However, very few companies manage to do this. For example, the average time to hire an engineer in the United States is 60 days. But most startups take even longer.

Let's break down why that is by laying out a standard startup interview process:

Assuming you've met the 'right' candidate, this process takes 55 days to run — that's a long time! And that's not even accounting for the inevitable holiday or vacation that will further slow things down. How can we speed this up?

Let's dissect one of the interview steps to see why it takes so long. It takes 10 days to move a candidate from a Phone Screen to a First Interview.

  1. Most hiring managers will complete the Phone Screen,  then reflect on the candidate for a day or two before deciding to move forward in the process.

  2. They will then email the candidate with some proposed Second Interview dates. The candidate will likely take a day or two to respond.

  3. Since both the hiring manager and the candidate are busy there is likely some scheduling back and forth. Since both are busy, they schedule the interview a week out in advance.

Wow — that's a lot of lost time!

Tricks of the trade

Trick 1: Schedule the Second interview at the end of the Phone Screen. You should know if you want to move the person further through your process at the end of your first call. Spending 3 minutes scheduling the First interview will save you days of scheduling time.

Trick 2: Schedule the Onsite at the end of the Second Interview. If both you and the candidate want to move forward, schedule the onsite and take-home assessment right then. Consolidating the take-home assessment ask and the onsite scheduling saves a week of back and forth. Here's how that conversation goes:

Hiring Manager (at the end of Second Interview): "Thanks again for taking the time to connect today! I'd love to invite you to meet the rest of the team onsite next week— would you be interested in moving forward with us?"

Candidate: "Next week sounds great, I'm excited to meet the team. I'm free next Friday."

Hiring Manager: "Perfect! As part of our onsite, we'll have you complete a take-home assessment beforehand. It should only take you a couple hours to complete, and will be due two days before the onsite. Does that work for you?"

The take-home assessment is one of the most time-intensive parts of the standard interview process because candidates are hesitant to put in hours of work for an uncertain outcome. Candidates often drag out this process for weeks while they're weighing whether completing the take-home assignment is worth it. Have the candidate commit to the onsite before committing to the assignment. That way, they don't have the chance to draw out the take-home assessment over the course of weeks.

In the event the candidate doesn't complete the assignment on time or fails the grading criteria, you can always cancel the onsite.

Let's look at the results:

These tricks to running an efficient interview process cut the interview process down to 29 days — less than half of the US average.

Big thanks to Harrison Hunter at MaestroQA for sharing his experience running a fast interview process!