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What Is The Average Time To Hire By Industry? 

The measurement of "time to hire," which varies by industry, organization, and location, registers the time between the moment a candidate is first engaged for an open position to the moment they accept an offer. Time to hire is often conflated with “time to fill,” the length of time a vacancy sits open, and can be complicated by any number of factors—some companies are just slower than others, and some entire industries need to hire more deliberatively than others. A good understanding of the length of the hiring process for each industry can give you a better sense of where your company stands in the rankings and what mindset candidates are in during the interview process.

Industries that have more regulatory requirements, like background checks, will have a longer process built-in. A study conducted last year by Glassdoor, which looked at location and industry in time to hire based on reviews on their site, determined that the longest hiring processes were found in Washington, D.C. (33.2 days)—where of course there is a very high concentration of federal government jobs. Federal background checks add to the length of many of these hiring processes.

If you look purely by industry, the same study finds a correspondence between lengthier hiring processes and jobs that require more specialized and lengthier training. Particular job titles with lengthy processes include college professor, which was the slowest hiring process with an average at 60.3 days, followed by business systems analyst, at 44.8 days, and research scientist at 44.6. The next highest, flight attendant, at 44.4, bucks the narrative a bit, as this particular job is certainly specialized but doesn’t require a PhD. But these are all jobs that require very specific training, and the industry takes its time in the hiring process.

More generally, the top four industries with the slowest interview processes include government, aerospace and defense, energy & utilities, and biotech & pharmaceuticals, ranging from 28.1 to 53.8 days. Again, the background checks involved with government and aerospace jobs put them at the top of the list.

A separate study from DHI Group, Inc, which uses turnover statistics from the Bureau of Labor to generate the metric of “vacancy days,” finds that health services tops the list at average of 49 days, financial services tops comes second at 44.7 days, government with 40.9 days, and jobs in information at 33 days. But this study may tell you less about the actual interview process and more about the turnover statistics within particular industries.

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The Glassdoor study also reveals that quicker hiring processes come with less specialized training and industries where quick turnover is necessary. The jobs that constitute the nuts and bolts of a business, and cover day-to-day practical needs in service industries, have quicker interview processes. A position such as a waiter, for example, averages at 8 days, while a salesperson or delivery driver averages at 8.5 days.

The quickest job interview processes by industry are as follows:

IndustryAverage Length of Interview Process
1. Restaurant & Bars10.2 days
2. Private Security11.6 days
3. Supermarkets12.3 days
4. Automotive12.7 days
5. Beauty & Fitness13.2 days

The slowest job interview processes by industry are as follows:

IndustryAverage Length of Interview Process
1. Government53.8 days
2. Aerospace & Defense32.6 days
3. Energy & Utilities28.8 days
4. Biotech & Pharmaceuticals28.1 days
5. Nonprofit25.2 days
6. Media & Publishing25.2 days

But the study also finds significant variance even within certain industries. For example, a communications specialist is one of the longer interview processes on average, at 42.5 days, while a marketing representative averages just 12.5 days—yet both these positions might fall under the general header of marketing & advertising, which averages 14.9 days.

Take the numbers with a grain of salt. But in general the timeline reveals that candidates might have a sense that they'll be waiting a week and a half after applying for jobs in the service industry, to up to nearly two months for a government job. These are statistics you can also mention to candidates during the hiring cycle so they can adjust their expectations.

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