Answered by Dana, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, on Thursday, July 3, 2014
I love that you asked this! I agree with Deanna, in that hiring processes (and corresponding timelines) can vary radically from one position to another, and from one company to another. However, it’s generally in everyone’s best interests to get to the finish line as efficiently and effectively as possible.
There are a number of factors which can affect the duration of the selection process, including the composition of the Hiring Team itself (how many decision-makers are included, and who gets to decide what), the steps involved in the evaluation of assessments and application materials, and the number of qualified candidates who need to be reviewed and interviewed for the role.
Many organizations review applications on a rolling basis, so it may only take a week or two before your application is seen by a member of the Hiring Team and you are contacted directly. Other organizations collect applications for several weeks, and then review them all at once.
If your application is reviewed favorably, it’s likely you will be contacted for an initial phone screen with a member of the Hiring Team before anything else transpires. After this phone screen, you may be asked to come in to interview in-person. This first round could be set up as 1:1 with an interviewer, or it may be with several candidates at once (a group interview format).
Oftentimes, companies will have several rounds of interviews before finally identifying a top candidate. Early stages are usually conducted by a recruiter, or a member of HR, and later stages are conducted by higher-level people within the organization (your actual manager, the director, or one of their superiors).
From start to finish, I’ve seen candidates apply, go through a phone screen, have several rounds of interviews, and be issued an offer within as little as one week’s time. In other situations, I have seen candidates move through the process much more slowly. Particularly if there is a large pool of candidates who have applied, it can take over a month to find out if you’re moving forward, or if you are being declined.
As a candidate, it can be important to keep communication flowing between yourself and the recruiter and to be as accommodating as possible. The candidates who take the time to answer recruiter emails promptly, who turn in requested documents quickly, who are flexible in terms of potential interview times and dates, and who send excellent follow-up messages, may very well receive more attention from their recruiter. That can help speed things along.
Once candidates receive a verbal offer, they may take a day (or several) to think things over and then provide a reply. Once they have formally accepted, there is usually a process of running a background check and perhaps a drug screen, as well as other onboarding procedures, all of which must be completed prior to starting on the first day. So it’s common for there to be a delay between signing an offer letter, and starting your new job.