According to a just-published new survey, there’s a wide disparity in how long it takes to get hired for a job.

One CEO says customer service positions are typically filled quickly. Richard Wang, who estimates he has hired more than 200 people in his career, says for those jobs, “you get a feeling on the first or second interview if this is the right person.”

But it’s completely different when Wang’s company needs software engineers. He says four or five rounds of engineering interviews are typical for those positions, and nobody rushes the procedure.

Wang says such a meticulous process helps his company know that it’s hiring people with the right technical skills and cultural fit. “You can’t have a world-class company without world-class people,” he says.

A look across the U.S. economy finds that more technical positions in engineering, research and finance take a long time to fill, even if the winning candidate is already among the field. Conversely, the job process moves faster in non-technical fields such as sales and customer service.

The survey found the median time-to-hire in product management is 47 days, while it’s 46 days for business development. The fastest median turnaround is for administrative jobs at 33 days, with customer service close behind at 34 days.

The survey was based on an analysis of 400,000 confirmed hires involving candidates who applied for jobs from June 2020 to March 2021.[1]

Molly Graham, an executive and 14-year veteran of the Silicon Valley tech scene, says, “Companies in the tech industry tend to value precision — sometimes false precision — over speed. That precision,” she adds, “often means putting candidates through endless technical interviews, assessing deep textbook knowledge that’s far beyond what jobs may require. This is especially true in newer or start-up companies, where processes are often disorganized, creating a poor candidate experience.”

Slowing down the process leads to hiring delays, Graham adds, because openings at well-regarded companies attract many applications. Therefore, it takes time to give each job seeker a brief review.

Previous surveys found that larger organizations take longer to hire workers. For example, a  report by a University of Chicago economist found that companies with 5,000 or more employees took an average of 58 days to fill job openings, compared with a national average of just 25 days.

When you apply for a job, what’s a reasonable wait time until you get a response, a decision, or – if you’ve landed the job – a start date? Two weeks? A month? Even longer?

If you’re looking for a job, expect to wait an average of 49 days. In many high-skilled, high-paying lines of work, be prepared to play the “hurry up and wait” game.

Finally, Graham says, “as companies attempt to widen their talent pipelines to include more women and minorities, that can be great for increasing the diversity of their workforce but it also leads to a longer time to hire.”