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.
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
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
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
The position they are applying for: A link to the job description
makes it easy for interviewers to review the role's key
Links to additional info: A link to the candidate’s resume or any
other relevant information like references, cover letters or
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
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
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