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How to Speed Up a Slow-Moving Interview Process

speed up interview process

Nothing is more frustrating than a job-interview process that stretches on for weeks or months, but unfortunately, that is what many job seekers experience these days.

Recent research by Glassdoor has found that the average job interview process took 22.9 days in the U.S. in 2014, reflecting a trend in which employers have been taking far more time to evaluate candidates since the recession. And at public companies, hiring typically takes five to 13 days longer, the study found.

Highly skilled jobs require the longest interview process, the study found.  For instance, it takes 35 days to hire a software engineer on average, compared to 15.7 days for a junior software engineer.  And for government jobs, as you might have guessed, the interview process can only be described as glacial. It takes 60 days on average, the study found.

You can’t force interviewers to make decisions more quickly but fortunately, you can shave days off the interview process by speeding up steps where you have some control over the timing.  Here are four proactive ways to accelerate the process, so you can get hired more quickly.

  • Prime yourself for action.  One increasingly prevalent factor that can add days to your interviewing is the preliminary phone screening, the study found. It’s never a good idea to do a screening unprepared, so make sure that any time you send out a job application, you do your homework on the company to which you are applying at that time. That way you won’t have to ask the interviewer if you can do the interview four days from now. You can book it for tomorrow.
  • Make it easy to do a background check. One screening method that has seen a big uptick is background checks, with 42% of job seekers in the study reporting they had to undergo one in 2014. Typically, for a background check you’ll need to fill out forms that help employers to verify information about your background, such as the names and contact information for past employers, so gather it before you meet any hiring manager for an in-person interview. If you have to start tracking down your boss from 10 years ago to fill out the contact information after the interview, that could add another week to the process—in which time another applicant may surge ahead of you.
  • Clean up your credit history. Some employers may review your credit history as part of a background check. If there are mistakes on your credit report that affected your credit negatively, send in the relevant information to correct them to the major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion–long before you’re in the interview process. Otherwise, it is possible your credit report may raise doubts in the minds of interviewers and cause them to put your resume in the “maybe” pile.  If that happens, it’s definitely not going to speed up your application and may even kill it altogether.
  • Take tests early. Two other types of screening methods—drug tests and personality tests—are becoming more common, Glassdoor found. Twenty-three percent of job seekers had to do drug tests in 2014, up from 13% in 2010. And 18% of job seekers were asked to take personality tests, compared to 12% in 2010. Drug tests are often conducted at commercial lab chains so if you’re asked to take one and the lab nearest your home is booked for the next week, don’t accept that as the earliest possible appointment. Try a few in neighboring communities to see if any has a slot tomorrow or the next day.

Some firms conduct their own personality tests, while others may ask you to do so through an outside consulting firm. In either case, make the appointment immediately and don’t waste time trying to read up on the test and game the system. If you’re an ideal fit for the company, that will shine through in the interview process—and the test will only provide confirmation of what hiring managers already know.

About the Author

Elaine Pofeldt is an independent journalist who specializes in writing about entrepreneurship and careers. She was a senior editor for Fortune Small Business magazine, and her work has appeared in Fortune, Money, Forbes.com, Inc. and Crain's New York Business, among others.