Mapping the Interview Process: Pros and Cons of the Long vs. Short Approach

By Tim Gillard

The interview process can be a wildcard. Candidates who you’ve only encountered on paper or by phone can impart an entirely different impression during an in-person interaction. For that reason, interviews are essential when it comes to selecting top-tier talent you can be confident about. When structuring the interview process, you’ll have to make a decision about your approach, particularly whether or not you’re aiming for short and sweet or lengthy and intensive. With that in mind, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of conducting long vs. short interviews, while mapping the benefits from the perspective of the candidate as well as the HR professional. Take a look below to find some inspiration and direction as you plan for your next interview session.

The Long Interview Process

For an HR professional, the obvious benefit of an extended interview process is the time afforded to properly vet each candidate. A thorough process may take more time, but will certainly weed out less qualified contenders. The cons? A time-intensive interview process may cause you to lose out on a rock star candidate whose time and talents are already in high demand. You run the risk of a high-caliber candidate seeking other opportunities, maybe even with your competition.

From the candidate’s eyes? He or she will have confidence that their would-be company is serious about finding the right person to fill this role. The care with which an HR team seeks a candidate says a lot about a company’s philosophy, and this may attract those willing to stay for the long haul. On the flip side, some candidates may assume that the protracted interview timeline means that he or she isn’t a top priority. Also, a multi-week interview back-and-forth may burden the schedule of an in-demand professional.

The Short Interview Process

From HR’s perspective, a short process lessens that chance of losing out on a standout applicant. Likewise, the position will be filled faster—making for a more efficient and productive transition, which is ultimately the point of the hiring process. Alternatively, the last thing an HR representative wants is to make a bad hire. If the interview process feels rushed or surface-level, it may be harder to determine a lasting fit. This kind of misfire might ultimately necessitate more interviews for a replacement candidate.

On the candidate’s side of the table, an economized interview exchange demonstrates confidence in his or her ability to dive in. The candidate may benefit from a boost in morale as he or she embarks upon this new professional journey. Of course, an abbreviated interview process may mean that certain questions or explanations go overlooked. If miscommunication arises as a result, it may muddle a candidate’s expectations of his or her new position.

Finding the Middle Ground

As an HR hiring professional, how do you reckon these two contrasting routes? As is the case in most things, moderation is key. In addition to finding a middle ground when it comes to interview pacing, you might supplement your approach with added communication. For instance, if it’s necessary to elongate the interview process, take time to convey that this approach isn’t an indication of HR’s disinterest. If a shorter interview process is required, you may explain that the position quickly needs to be filled. In either case, be aware of the pitfalls of either approach and tailor your own interview process accordingly to maximize your results.

Tim Gillard is a is a professional sales recruiter at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Visit, call 952.582.1068 or email