How Long Should A Hiring Process Take?

In an ideal world, employers and employees are a perfect match and the interview simply reveals to both parties that the job position is a good fit. Unfortunately, the decision is never as easy as that and finding a perfect candidate can seem like it takes too much time. How do you strike that balance between allowing enough applicants to pour through while not taking too long in selecting the best candidates before they consider another opportunity? In short, how long should a hiring process take to be most effective?

Let’s break down the timing for each of the main parts of hiring:

  1. Creating the job posting
  2. Posting to different job boards
  3. Receiving & filtering through applicants
  4. Phone Interview
  5. In-person meeting
  6. Onboarding

Creating the job posting

Writing a job posting from scratch can be tough and can often take much longer than actually needed. To get started, you can look at an archive of past job postings by your company. If nothing seems to quite fit what you’re looking for, or, if you don’t have access to past job postings, direct your attention to job boards and search for similar positions. After you get an idea of what other companies are looking for in that position, you can pair that with what your company needs for that role. Make sure that when you are writing the posting, to have the post reflect your company brand & voice and not just a direct copy-paste with minor tweaks.

Ideal Timeframe: 1 day

Protip: When writing a job posting, make your company look attractive to potential applicants by listing out what they can expect on the job, opportunities for growth & learning, and any other benefits that keep your current team happy.

Posting to different job boards

The more job boards you post to, the more applicants you will receive. The catch, however, is that posting to many different job boards takes time and also gives you many sites to constantly monitor. There are some applicant tracking systems, that simplify this process and allow for a one-button push to job boards once all the accounts are setup. This can significantly cut back on the time it takes to repost over and over on different sites and allows for all the applications to go to a central hub. An added perk is that once this is setup the first time, the next time a different position needs to be posted, it will be completely painless.

Ideal Timeframe: Completed at the same time as the previous step

Receiving & Filtering Through Applicants (1 week to 1 month)

If you’re receiving applicants through your work email address, you’ll easily be swamped with applications. This can typically range from 30 applicants for an office position to 100+ applicants for a starting retail position. You would then have to open each email to download the resume and cover letter to a folder on your computer. Only then will you be able to read through if a candidate is even qualified before second round read-throughs of potential candidates. Not only will this take up a lot of your own time, it also takes away from the most critical time of reaching out to the best candidates first.

Luckily there are tools that help avoid this messy situation. In addition to posting to multiple job boards easily, applicant tracking systems work as a centralized hub where all hiring information will be directed. This means no more cluttered inboxes, with applicant information in an organized list format. Should your hiring process involve more team members, you would also be able to share information and notes through the system.

Now comes the difficult task of figuring out which candidates to advance to the next step. While you could use basic questions asking whether a candidate has met minimum requirements for the position during the application, this doesn’t provide quite enough information and would still require you to go through each resume to see whether their past work experiences might reveal how the candidate functioned in a previous team. Alternatively, to save further time and to have repeatable success, you could implement science-based screening tools such as the Prevue Screen-Fit or the Job-Fit to find out whether a candidate’s personality matches up with the requirements of the job position. You can have these 5 to 10-minute assessments sent at application, helping reduce unqualified candidates and saving you valuable time.

Ideal Timeframe: 1 week to 1 month 

Protip: Do not keep the job posting up for over a month! If you must keep the posting available for longer, delete the post and resubmit again to the job boards. This will make sure your job is on the top of the list rather than in the unseen depths of the 13th page of the job board.

Phone Interview

During this time, you have a few candidates in mind that you’ve screened and feel have a pretty good chance at succeeding in the position. Use the phone interview as a time to get an idea of whether this person is a good fit for the company culture and the work involved in the role. A structure you could use to model your phone interview can be:

  1.  Provide basic information about the role and the company (this is your second chance to sell the job and make them want it)
  2. Have them talk about what they think their strengths are, as well as what they like/don’t like to do
  3. Ask required skill questions relating to the job posting (not in-depth detail at this point)
  4. Provide next step information

Ideal Timeframe: Active throughout the 1 week to 1 month in the previous step

Protip: You may feel inclined to wait for a batch of candidates you’ve screened before you go and give them a call. After all, good things come to those who wait, right? In this case: no! Make sure you contact high potential candidates right away. Many times, applicants are applying to more than one company and you want to be able to reach them before your competitors sign them on.

In-person Interview

After you have helped the candidate get more comfortable during the in-person interview, you want to make sure the candidate is a great fit for both the role and the company. This part of hiring is all about getting into the nitty gritty. While it is inevitable that you will need to ask in-depth skills questions for job-related functions, make sure to also ask questions which gauge whether this candidate will be a good fit culturally for your company. Maybe the candidate has the necessary skills, but only thrives under a certain type of work environment. For both you and your candidate’s benefit, a large part of this interview is listening to what the candidate has to say and finding out if it may be a well-rounded match.

Ideal Timeframe: 1 week after the phone interview

Protip: Try to limit these meetings to one if possible. Many applicants may already have another work commitment and additional in-person meetings would require taking further time away from their current job.


Your hiring process should include seamless transition into onboarding. By making sure the new employee is properly trained and given clear direction on what their role includes, it sets them up for success. Taking advice from many people-first companies, always try to develop a culture where it is okay to ask questions and learn. In turn, this success means a decrease in turnover which is both a plus for you and the new team member.