How much time does it take to get to know if somebody is a good fit for your company? 15 seconds? 30 minutes? Two hours? There’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all answer. However, one of the most important parts of interview scheduling is determining how much time with candidates will give you the information you need to make an informed decision.
Allotting this time has a direct impact on how many interviews your hiring team can manage in a single day. Appropriate planning also improves the candidate experience. You don’t want interviews to feel rushed because you didn’t schedule time slots appropriately.
By understanding the appropriate interview time allotment for the position you are hiring for, you can streamline scheduling and create a better experience for qualified candidates and your interviewing team.
Finding the Right Amount of Time With Candidates
There are many factors that determine how much time you should spend interviewing a candidate. After all, there’s a big difference between hiring a summer intern and a new C-suite executive. The nature of the job and the candidate should be top of mind during the interview scheduling process.
Seniority of Positions
While an entry-level position may only require a single 30-minute interview, hiring someone for an upper-level management position will likely require multiple rounds of interviews.
When hiring for an upper-level position, you will need to ask more in-depth questions, such as asking for details on specific initiatives they spearheaded at their old company or how their leadership style would mesh with your team. Such questions usually garner longer answers.
Higher-level interviews also typically require that the candidate meet with multiple employees. Consider how much time your hiring team would need to properly evaluate whether a candidate would be a good fit for a given position.
Type of Interview
In today’s work environment, in-person interviews are no longer the only option. Teams commonly use video interviews and phone screens to meet with remote candidates.
In-person interviews typically last between 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Since they offer the most time with candidates, they give you a greater chance to truly get to understand what they can bring to the position.
Phone screens, on the other hand, are usually a preliminary conversation that takes place before an in-person or video interview can be scheduled. They typically confirm basic information and are used to decide if a formal interview should be scheduled. They are often only 15 minutes in length.
Video interviews can fill the role of an in-person interview or phone screen. They can range from 15 minutes to an hour and a half in length, depending on how far a candidate has progressed in the interview process.
Presentations and Evaluations
Many companies want to go more in-depth with their hiring process to find the best candidates. They may ask the candidate to do a technical evaluation to demonstrate their proficiency in a particular skill. Or they may want a design candidate to conduct a presentation of their portfolio. Such activities will likely extend how much time needs to be allowed for the interview.
Tips to Successfully Schedule Interviews
Whether the interview will be 30 minutes or two hours, a few best practices will improve your interview scheduling process. These tips will keep the schedule on track so every candidate has a good experience.
Know Which Time Slots Are Best
Before you send out interview invites, you need to know what the interviewer’s calendar looks like. At the start of the hiring process, ask team members which times work best for them to conduct interviews. Find out which times are usually open, which meetings can be moved, and which cannot.
However, getting team members to provide access to their calendars can often be a challenge. Using a scheduling tool that automatically syncs everyone’s calendars will make finding openings for interviews much easier.
Be careful to not overwhelm your interviewers with a large number of interviews in one day. On average, companies interview between 6 and 10 candidates for an open position. Nonstop interviewing can cause your hiring team to burn out. They will be less energetic as the days goes on and have trouble focusing on the candidates.
Once you know which time slots work best for your team, try to space out interviews over a few days so the process doesn’t become overwhelming.
Provide an Interview Schedule Template
Keeping a candidate interview from running too long can be a challenge if the interviewers don’t know what they’re supposed to talk about. An interview schedule template can guide your team through this process so they spend the appropriate amount of time with each candidate.
A template can be as basic as explaining how much time should be spent on each portion of the interview, or it could even provide the specific questions that interviewers should ask. Asking the same questions to each candidate makes it easier to rank the best candidates based on their answers. It can also help eliminate unconscious bias that might cause an interviewer to unfairly favor candidates who look like they do.
Hiring managers should work with the department with the open position to determine which questions will help them properly evaluate candidates.
Allow Time for the Candidate to Ask Questions
Chances are, your job description can’t answer every question a candidate might have about the position. You should always allot roughly 10-15 minutes for candidates to ask questions about the job or your company. This is usually enough time to answer a candidate’s questions without rushing them and make them feel you take their concerns seriously.
If a candidate doesn’t have many questions and the interview ends early, this isn’t a bad thing. This gives the interviewers more time to complete their evaluation of the candidates and make notes before their next interview.
Let Candidates Self-Schedule
Emailing about calendar invites and schedule discussions can be surprisingly time consuming. When you let candidates self-select through your scheduling software, it becomes much easier to coordinate a time that works well for everyone. Interview scheduling software can even account for different time zones to make it easy to find the right time.
If a candidate or interviewer needs to reschedule, reach out to others who were invited to the meeting. Remove the calendar event from your team’s schedule, and invite the candidate to select a new time using your scheduling software.
Provide ‘Buffer’ Time
When scheduling multiple interviews in a single day, it’s generally best to leave some open, unscheduled time between each interview. This gives your hiring team an opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of the candidate they just met with and finalize their feedback before the next meeting.
Perhaps even more importantly, a “buffer” time period gives you some much-needed leeway if an interview runs long. This helps keep your team from falling behind. Starting an interview 30 minutes late or shortening an interview because of your scheduling issues won’t make a very good impression.
Even a simple 15-minute break between each interview can reduce burnout and keep the interview schedule running smoothly.
Spend the Right Amount of Time With Candidates
The interview is a crucial part of the hiring process. It not only gives you insights into a potential candidate — it gives the candidate a chance to decide if your company is a good fit.
By creating a stress-free scheduling process that gives each candidate the time, care, and attention they deserve, you can build your company’s brand and land top talent for your company’s new hires. Quality time spent interviewing candidates helps create a strong impression of you as an employer.
Prelude can help. With Prelude, candidates can select a time slot that works best for them based on available times of your hiring team. This easy-to-use scheduling tool lightens hiring managers’ workload so your team can focus on the candidate — not the calendar.