Interview process takes 83% longer than in 2008 as tech employers raise the bar

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Over the past five years the length of the interview process has nearly doubled for the average successful applicant in the IT industry, according to research by Randstad Technologies, the specialist IT recruiter.

IT professionals who secured a new job in the last 12 months spent 83% longer on the interview process for that role compared to 2008, according to an independent poll of 2,000 people carried out by market research firm Canadean.  On average, they spent 8.2 hours on the interview process – an increase of 3.7 hours compared to five years ago. This compares to the current national average for professionals in other disciplines of 7 hours.

As a result, the total time taken to find a new job in IT has risen by 38% since 2008. Active job hunters in the sector spend an average of eight weeks and a day in the process of finding and securing a new job, compared to the five weeks and six days taken five years ago. Despite the rise, this compares favourably to the ten weeks and five days spent on average across other disciplines.

More than half (53%) of IT professionals who interviewed for a job in the last year state the process was harder than five years ago.

Mike Beresford, managing director of Randstad Technologies, said: "The interview process for technology professionals is longer and tougher than it has ever been before. That said, at least experienced IT professionals are in demand, which is more than you can say for those in many other industries. For example, while there are 3% more digital jobs each year in Europe, the number of unfilled jobs is as high as 700,000. This skills gap is combining with industry growth to ensure that candidates in the UK who demonstrate the right specialisms are in red hot demand and are securing jobs more quickly than the national average."

A separate poll of Randstad Technologies' consultants suggests that the level of testing in the IT sector during the application process has increased, too. Five years ago, 18% of IT roles required some form of psychometric, technical or aptitude test, a figure which has now more than doubled to 40% – far higher than the wider average of 28% across all industries.

The number of interviews employers in the IT industry conduct with a successful candidate has also risen sharply since 2008. For a junior role, employers required an average of 1.9 interviews five years ago, a figure that has risen to 2.5. Employers now interview successful candidates for senior roles an average of 3.2 times, up from 2.8 five years ago.

The number of vetting checks carried out after the interview process has concluded has also increased in the sector. Five years ago, employers vetting credentials such as qualifications, CRB checks and references delayed the hiring process by an average of 3.7 days. This delay has now increased to an average of 7.1 days.

The increased number of tests, interviews and level of checking, has lengthened the hiring process from the employer's perspective too. Employers now spend an average of five weeks and four days per new hire, a figure that has risen by 71% from three weeks and six days in 2008. One in nine IT employers take more than nine weeks to make an appointment.

Mike Beresford adds: "It would seem for all IT professionals the traditional 1st and 2nd interview is long gone – whatever their experience level and demand for their expertise. There's currently a huge clamour for the skills of highly numerate graduates within consultancy and data analysis practices yet having the right profile isn't a guaranteed passport to a new role. They must still navigate what is effectively a three stage interview process.

Whilst it's understandable that many tech firms are cautious when hiring at the minute, despite the sector's growth, firms need to strike the right balance between making the right appointment, and delaying too long. Hesitating on a potential hire could risk an ideal candidate accepting a job elsewhere – or leaving a team undermanned and stretched too thin for too long to perform effectively."

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