How to make an interview schedule (+ free template)

Juggling the agendas of busy hiring managers, busy candidates, and busy interviewers can make efficiently scheduling interviews seem like a Sisyphean task. You must keep track of everyone's availability and communicate back and forth amongst stakeholders. When you're trying to schedule multiple candidates, the situation becomes even more complicated.

The interview-scheduling process can't drag on too long, either. Being slow to schedule interviews can increase time to hire which, in turn, can negatively affect candidate experience. Candidates who were eager to interview may find other jobs while waiting for a meeting invitation, or may move on after becoming frustrated with rescheduling and cancellations.

Keep your candidates happy and the hiring process progressing by developing an efficient interview-scheduling method. Once you've booked a candidate, communicate that information clearly to all involved parties through a detailed interview schedule. When everyone knows where they need to be, and when, an organized and successful interview experience is more likely.

Considerations when creating an interview schedule

You've found a promising candidate you want to interview. Before sending an invitation, consider the following variables to help establish the format, structure, and timeline.

Purpose of the Interview

Why are the interviewers meeting with the candidate? Are they assessing the candidate's work experience, technical skills, or sales abilities? Do they want to determine whether the person would fit in with their company culture?

Make a list of the skills and competencies that need to be evaluated, and use that list to determine whether your goals can be met in a single interview or whether you need to do a series of interview sessions. Certain characteristics, like culture fit and work experience, can potentially be assessed at the same time, while others, like presentation skills, may require a stand-alone session. Consider if you can leverage a group interview to have multiple interviewers meet a single candidate at the same time.

If the candidate needs to undergo more than one assessment, schedule the meetings consecutively.

Who Needs to Be There

Once you know what you need to assess, and in how many sessions, compile a list of the key interviewers and stakeholders who need to be present for each session. This will probably include the hiring manager and the potential immediate supervisor but could also include relevant department heads, future direct reports, and potential coworkers. Keep the list concise: the fewer people you need to schedule, the better, but make sure that all of the key decision-makers will be present.

How Much Time to Allocate

Decide how much time to allocate for each session. A general rule of thumb is that each interview question takes about 5 minutes to answer and discuss, so a 45-minute interview is a chance to ask nine questions. No interview runs exactly according to plan though, so build a cushion into the schedule to prevent running over the allotted time and causing delays in future meetings. You also want to leave time for the candidate to ask any questions to the interviewer. To be safe, add about 15 minutes.

When creating a schedule that involves multiple interviews back to back, remember to include breaks. Candidates will need time to breathe and gather their thoughts between speaking to different people. If you're planning a long day of assessments, allocate time for meals as well.

Medium of communication

Consider whether the candidate needs to come into the office to interview in person, or whether they can be interviewed via phone or video conference. Phone and video interviews are less time-consuming and easier to schedule because the candidate doesn't need to travel. This makes phone or video interviews perfect for early rounds of interviewing. Additionally, if you are interviewing a candidate who doesn’t live close to your office, then a remote interview may be more practical and financially feasible.

However, most hiring managers still prefer to meet a candidate in person before they commit to hiring them. In-office interviews are the best way to gauge a prospective hire's interpersonal skills and culture fit. Interviewers can assess characteristics like body language and people skills that may not be as apparent on a computer screen. And candidates have an opportunity to see the office, get a better sense of the culture, and meet team members.

Reserve in-office interviews for serious candidates who have been prescreened via phone or video call. Depending on the candidate's location, these interviews may require travel and other expensive and time-consuming arrangements.

Interviewer Availability

Once you've sketched out a rough schedule and determined how the interviews will take place, gauge the availability of both the candidate and the interviewers. Finding coinciding free time on everyone's calendars can be the most frustrating part of the interview-scheduling process.

First, use your company's shared calendar to quickly view the availability of all interviewers. An ATS like Hire can make this process easier by syncing the availability of multiple interviewers to help you see shared availability and potential conflicts. It can even identify and book an open conference room.

Once a time slot has been agreed on, immediately send out calendar invites to lock down the interviewers' availability (Hire automatically blocks time on their calendar, along with sending an auto-generated scheduling email). Once you've confirmed that everyone is available, send an invitation to the candidate.

Essential components of an interview-schedule document

When a candidate has multiple interviews in a single day, make sure everybody knows where they need to be, and when, by creating a detailed interview schedule.

An ATS can automatically generate one, but if you need to produce an interview schedule manually, we've created a helpful interview-schedule template. Be sure your schedule includes these important elements:

  • The candidate's name: Their full name and the name they like to be addressed by (if applicable)

  • Candidate's contact information: A cell-phone number or email address where they can be reached if an interview is delayed or must be rescheduled

  • The position they are applying for: A link to the job description makes it easy for interviewers to review the role's key responsibilities

  • Links to additional info: A link to the candidate’s resume or any other relevant information like references, cover letters or portfolios

  • The schedule of events, including:

    • The time slot for each session
    • The location of each session
    • Who is required to attend each session
    • The focus or topic of each session

How to optimize your interview-scheduling process

The bulk of interview scheduling falls on recruiters and hiring managers, who must communicate with candidates and interviewers to find a time that works for everybody. Cut down on the back-and-forth by establishing procedures that help eliminate the variability of scheduling with each individual stakeholder.

One way to do that is by minimizing the number of in-person interviews the hiring team conducts. They are more labor- and resource-intensive, so instead, make liberal use of phone screening and remote interviews to help narrow down the list of candidates. Reserve multiple-round, in-person interviews for short-listed candidates only.

Also, when possible, train multiple people to conduct skills assessments. The bigger the pool of interviewers to choose from, the easier it will be to find someone who is available when a candidate requires testing.

Finally, schedule multiple interviews on the same day or at the same time each week. Ask frequent interviewers to keep this time in their schedule blocked off for interviewing appointments. But avoid scheduling any one interviewer for too many sessions in a single day. This can lead to decision fatigue: a deterioration of the ability to make choices. Tired interviewers may find themselves unable to think critically and more susceptible to hiring biases and poor decision-making.

Respect the candidate's time

Candidates are usually eager and excited to be called in for an interview, but taking an hour (or three or four hours) out of their day to speak with you is still an inconvenience for them. They may have to take time off from their current position, arrange childcare, or rearrange their schedule in another way.

Respect the candidates' time, just as you do the interviewers' time. If possible, offer candidates multiple time slots to choose from so that they can be interviewed when it's most convenient. Honor your commitments, and never cancel an interview at the last minute. By sending them a thorough and informative interview confirmation email ahead of time, you help prepare them for a successful interview. Impress them with your professionalism and support; then, give them a chance to impress you — and their interviewers — right back.

About Hire by Google

Hire is a recruiting app by Google that uses AI to make the hiring process faster and simpler. Because it is designed specifically for G Suite users, with Gmail, Google Calendar and other G Suite integrations, Hire streamlines administrative tasks so that your team can hire the best people, faster.