How Long Should An Interview Last?

Interviewing a candidate for a position is a delicate dance. It’s important to respect the time invested and required by everyone involved, from hiring managers and the staff involved in the interview to that of the candidate themselves. While some interview processes can be completed rather quickly, others need to be a little more delicate and time consuming, but if you take too long to make a decision or to move the process forward, you risk losing a high-quality candidate. 

How long should the interview process last? Here are a few things to consider. 

How deep into the process is this meeting?

If this is a brand new candidate and this is the first communication, a moderate length of time — 15 to 30 minutes, not extending past 45 at the absolute most — is reasonable. You want to get a sense of the person’s working history, their skills, their confidence and their interest in the job. Whether this is in-person, on the phone or via video call, a brief but wide-ranging conversation should be enough to determine whether this candidate should advance to the next round or if they’re not quite what you’re looking for in a candidate. The deeper into the interview process you go, and the closer to making a decision about who will be offered the job, the longer and more in-depth the conversation might need to go. Ultimately, no interview should last longer than one hour, unless there’s a panel of people involved or a skills assessment of some kind is administered. 

What level position are you looking to fill?

If this is an entry-level opening and you need someone with basic skills and training to fill it, the whole process shouldn’t take more than one or two conversations over the course of maybe two weeks. Understanding that you might have several positions to fill, or several candidates to meet with, there’s no need to drag the process out to fill a position in which there will be on-the-job training. If the position is more senior, more advanced or involves more specialized training or skills, you want to be mindful of the person’s time and their expertise. The search for a CEO might take months to complete; an entry-level job might take just a few days. 

Be efficient and communicative.

Ultimately you need to take the right amount of time to feel confident in the decision of picking the right candidate. Overall, the process should not take longer than a month for most positions. If things come up — an illness, an absence, a departure or anything that requires the interview process to go on for more than a month — stay in touch with the candidates. Let them know how things are progressing or, ultimately, when you decide to take someone out of the running. Remember that job candidates talk and that taking too long to complete the process might result in people feeling slighted or ignored, and they might tell their friends or take their complaints online, all of which can damage your company’s reputation. The faster you find the right candidate, make an offer and get them started, the faster your team will be whole and the sooner you can focus on other responsibilities. 


The more preparation you’ve put into interviews, the more efficient the process can be. A clear sense of the most important qualities and characteristics of a candidate, combined with the most important skills and experience that best align with the demands of the position, will help you focus on what you need in a candidate. 

If you aren’t finding the candidates you were hoping for to fill an open position, call Debbie’s Staffing. We have great prospective employees who are eager to get to work and we can quickly connect you with them. Contact Debbie’s Staffing today and let’s get to work.


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