Interview Scheduling Best Practices hero Mobile

How To Schedule an Interview

Interview scheduling is often the first point of contact employers have with candidates, and it’s crucial to creating a great candidate experience from the start. With the right process and interview scheduling software, you can streamline how to schedule an interview to make it simpler for the hiring team and candidates.

What is Interview Scheduling?

Scheduling interviews is more complex than it seems. It’s a process where recruiters, talent acquisition, or HR coordinators/specialists quickly and efficiently set up interviews with candidates. Scheduling takes place multiple times throughout a candidate’s journey and can involve a lot of back and forth.

Depending on the hiring process, it might start at the screening step (in the form of a screening interview) or immediately after. Scheduling interviews can take up a lot of time and create a lot of work because it involves coordinating with interviewer schedules and communicating back and forth with candidates. 

In a structured interview process, the hiring team plans every step before scheduling starts. In semi-structured or unstructured interview processes, interview planning happens on the fly, which makes things more flexible. The less structured the process, the greater the risk that timelines get dragged out and scheduling interviews is more challenging.

Life happens, and accommodating cancellations, no-shows, and interview rebooking is all part of scheduling hiring interviews too. Allowing candidates to self-schedule interviews using software for interview scheduling is becoming an increasingly popular option.

What is interview scheduling

No more scheduling interviews for candidates

The only type of interview that doesn’t require scheduling is one-way interviewing. This interview format still requires you to send candidates a link, but it’s up to them to record their answers before a deadline. Then raters review the interviews on their own time and make decisions promptly.

No more scheduling on your own

How To Schedule an Interview With a Candidate

Best Way To Schedule Interviews

There isn’t one ‘right’ way to schedule interviews, but using scheduling software offers significant value by automating the process and enabling interview self-scheduling.

Scheduling software can integrate with an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), allowing candidates to self-schedule interviews based on interviewer availability. Using automation, interview software helps increase the quality and frequency of candidate communication while decreasing admin work. 

Online interview scheduling tools generally accommodate all interview types and formats, including hybrid, panel, group, one-on-one, and more.

These tools can display pre-set availability, but they can also sync to the interviewer’s calendar and display up-to-date time slots. This prevents double booking and allows job seekers to choose when works best for them. 

Once an interview is booked, the interview scheduling tools can automatically send the candidate, and interviewers customized emails, reminders, and other notifications. You can also set parameters and allow candidates to book or reschedule interview slots, eliminating back-and-forth messages and last-minute cancellations.

There are several touchpoints in interview communication you can automate:

  • Confirmation that the application was received
  • Screening/interview request to book
  • Interview confirmation 
  • Interview reminder(s)
  • Applicant no-show messages
  • Follow up ‘thank you for interviewing’ message reiterating next steps
  • Rejection messages

Using software to schedule interviews is the best because it greatly reduces manual admin work, empowers the applicant, and frees up your time to focus on other tasks.

Best practices

Implement best practices with help from AI

Want best practices for interview scheduling based on your organization’s own interview data? Interview intelligence can provide customized insights like the optimal number of interviews per hire, number of interviews per day (per interviewer), time of day and day of the week to interview, and more.

Step 1: Plan Your Interview Process

Planning your interview process before scheduling interviews is highly recommended. It’s hard to know where you’re going without a roadmap, especially when you’re trying to answer questions and communicate details with candidates.

Ideally, the interview process is structured so that every candidate has the same experience before, during, and after the interview. Structured interviewing requires some work to get set up. Still, once you’ve got a process in place, it is easier to bring in new or different interviewers because they can simply follow an interview guide or interview scorecard. These structured interviewing elements don’t replace training (or a training guide), but they can improve interview compliance by providing something to follow.

Structured interviewing is also beneficial for interview scheduling because uniformity and predictability allow you to focus on optimizing every task instead of wondering what comes next.

Increase the predictive validity of your hiring process

Learn how to conduct a structured interview arrow icon

If you don’t intend on planning a structured process, focus on planning the most important details: 

  • The number of interview rounds 
  • How long each interview should be
  • What interview types are involved, and how candidates will access the interview (in-person, phone, or video interview)
  • Who is attending or rating, and what stage(s) they are involved in (panel interview, one-on-one interview, etc.)
  • What candidates need to know or come prepared with
Interview Scheduling Etiquette Tip #1

Interview Scheduling Etiquette Tip #1

Ask interviewers about vacations and days off before posting the job description so there are no surprises. This also allows you to plan ahead and decide if you need a different interviewer or see if you can work around their schedule.

Step 2: Coordinate Interview Times

How will you keep track of all your interviewers’ schedules so you can easily book interviews? Get clear on availability and any blackout periods you should be aware of to make coordinating schedules and booking time as easy as possible. This step of interview scheduling is where time to hire can take a hit, so it’s a good place to focus your energy on optimizing.

Here are some manual interview scheduling systems to consider:

For one-on-one interviews, access the interviewer’s calendar and book interviews (with an added buffer on either end) whenever they are available. 

For this system to work, the interviewers must be diligent about blocking off times when they are busy or want to protect.

For panel interviews, identify a handful of specific days and times all interviewers are available and get them to pre-block their calendars for those days. 

It is then up to the recruiter to fill those extended slots with interviews, but there’s a chance candidates aren’t available for any of the remaining slots.

With any interview format, you can get interviewers to provide several dates or time slots in advance to offer candidates on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The downside of this strategy is that it requires a lot of admin work and it may result in adverse impact.

Coordinate Interview Times

Manual systems work, but if you want to drive efficiency, your best bet is to introduce automation using online interview scheduling software. An admin user can pre-set calendar availability, or interviewers can connect their calendars and select interview slots. Candidates then self-schedule based on what’s available. Online interview scheduling tools also allow candidates to cancel or rebook up to a certain point before the interview without contacting a recruiter or HR representative.

Sophisticated software for interview scheduling works equally well with any interview format and even accommodates hybrid interviews.

Tip on etiquette

Interview Scheduling Etiquette Tip #2

There’s nothing worse than getting an email from a candidate saying the interviewer didn’t show up, join the video, or call at the scheduled time. Sometimes things come up, or we have so much on the go we forget to stop and see what we should be doing. Have calendar, email, or SMS reminders for interviewers and candidates to prevent no-shows.

Step 3: Send a Clear Interview Invitation Email in Advance

Wondering how to write an email to schedule an interview? No matter what the details of the interview are, there are some core components all interview scheduling emails should contain:

  • Salutation
  • The candidate’s name 
  • Company name
  • Job title
  • Type of interview and what to expect
  • Rough length of the interview
  • Details about the interview itself
    • Directions to the location and information about parking (for in-person or hybrid) 
    • Link to the video interview (for a recruiter-booked interview)
    • Link to the scheduling page (for self-schedule)
  • Details about canceling or rescheduling
  • Sign off
  • Your name and role

Instead of calling candidates, or sending a mass email, personalize and automate the emails you send to candidates to reduce manual labor.

Step 4: Lock in Hybrid Interview Logistics

As hybrid work becomes more popular, so does hybrid interviewing. Hybrid interviewing is when some participants are in-person, and some are remote during a single interview. Hybrid interviewing is most common when it comes to panel interviewing.

There are a few different interview arrangements for hybrid interviewing:

The candidate is in-person, some interviewers are in-person, and some are remote.

The candidate is remote, and the interviewers are in person.

The candidate is remote. Some interviewers are in person, and some are remote.

Scheduling hybrid interviews can pose a different challenge due to coordinating time zones and ensuring interview setup and delivery consistency. Determine the hybrid interview arrangement, communicate the details or send the link to the candidate in advance, and troubleshoot your AV setup before the first interview.

If you conduct structured interviews, determine how to maintain consistency around the arrangement (who is calling in from where), rating, and recording interviews.

An interview management system can save you time on hybrid interview scheduling by making hybrid interview scheduling seamless and bringing everything together in one platform — interview guides, rating guides, video interviewing, and more. 

Based on pre-determined availability, some interview scheduling software can even automatically send panel participants materials like profiles, resumes, interview guides, and directions. Everyone gets exactly what they need when they need it, so they can come prepared!

Hybrid Interviews
Tip #4

Interview Scheduling Etiquette Tip #3

Last year, candidate resentment increased 75% in North America (Talent Board), marking the most significant increase in a decade. If you want to compete for top talent, you have to prioritize candidate communication.

When automating candidate communication, here are a few things to remember:

  • Personalize automated messages so they still feel like they are coming from a real person. Treat them as another opportunity to express your employer brand.
  • If the hiring process is delayed, communicate about changing timelines with candidates early and often. 
  • If the candidate is one of the final few and you have to send a rejection message (automated or otherwise), offer them the opportunity to receive feedback and decide in advance who will deliver it and how (phone call, email, etc.).
  • Tell candidates who to contact if they have questions.

How To Schedule an Interview: Best Practices

Instead of always rushing, what would happen to your outcomes if you prioritized following best practices? These practices are worth pursuing — see the results for yourself.

Scheduling best practices

Best Time To Schedule Interviews

Consider interviewer focus and energy levels when it comes to interview time of day, especially since these two things can significantly impact interview outcomes.

Mid-morning hiring interview slots are ideal because they allow people to settle into their workday and avoid being lethargic after lunch. Of the CFOs surveyed by Accountemps, 61% agreed the optimal time to conduct interviews is between 9:00 and 11:00 AM.

When is the worst time to schedule an interview? Avoid booking meetings in the last hour of the day, when mental sharpness is at its lowest.

Best Day To Schedule Interviews

Even if you allow candidates to pick their interview slots, limit what days they can select if possible. Avoid Mondays and Fridays if possible, and stick to interviewing Tuesday through Thursday. That way, interviewers and interviewees have achieved momentum in the week, and everyone is more well-adjusted to perform. 

How To Handle an Interview No-Show

The only best practice to keep in mind regarding candidate no-shows is to keep your cool. It’s not personal. 

Being stood up can be frustrating, but it’s important to allow candidates to explain themselves. Let some time pass (create a cutoff between 8-24 working hours after the interview) and see if they reach out to explain or rebook after missing the interview. If they don’t, the ball is in your court.

Once the candidate has missed the time, there are a couple of options. You can follow up to ask if they are ok and offer them the opportunity to rebook, or send a rejection email and let them know you’re moving forward without them.

If they genuinely were a good candidate, and you are disappointed to reject them, you can always ask if they want you to keep their resume on file for future opportunities. Unfortunately, eliminating someone because they’ve ghosted isn’t uncommon — move on swiftly and focus on the candidates that did show up.

How To Postpone a Scheduled Interview

In a structured interview process, all candidates must interview with the same people, which means rescheduling might be required if the interviewer gets sick or something serious happens. 

You don’t need to be specific, but let the candidate know that something came up so they remain interested. Explain that the same person interviews every candidate to keep things fair, and they are now unavailable to interview at the original time. 

The rest of the message should focus on rebooking.

How Many Interviews To Schedule in One Day

Because most hiring managers are involved in hiring in addition to their regular duties, they can easily get overscheduled. Recruiters are also notoriously overscheduled. While it may keep the process moving, overscheduling can have serious drawbacks.

So, how many interviews should you schedule in a day? There is no hard and fast answer because it depends. While there isn’t a specific number to keep in mind, it’s a bad idea to book a bunch of interviews back to back (especially if they are video interviews).

Microsoft’s groundbreaking 2021 study about brain wave activity proved that back-to-back live virtual meetings are stressful. The antidote? Short breaks. 

The best way to tackle this issue is by making short breaks between meetings mandatory.

Be wary of decision fatigue

Making many decisions is cognitively exhausting and can lead to decision fatigue, which is when you go with the easiest or ‘default’ option. For example, The Royal Society of Open Science found that if credit officers could replicate the rate of approvals they had in the morning (when people typically make their best decisions), it would’ve amounted to $509,023 in extra revenue for a bank in one month.

Interview fatigue is a real problem for recruiters partly due to decision fatigue.


How To Follow Up After a Scheduled Interview

The best practice is to follow up right away with a concise message. Thank the candidate for attending the interview and set expectations around the next steps (for example, roughly when they can expect to find out if they are moving forward). The interviewer potentially mentioned these details in the meeting, but reiterating them never hurts.

Regardless of the interview outcome, closing the loop and sending every candidate a message is imperative.

Frequently asked questions

How Soon Should You Schedule an Interview After an Applicant Applies?

It’s impossible to give a precise number of hours or days because it depends on when the first interview takes place in your process. Even if you are very eager to interview a good candidate, hold off on sending out interview invitations until you’ve finished the previous step of the process. Waiting until the interview shortlist is complete keeps things fair and allows you to send candidate communications out in batches.

If you are trying to improve time to hire, the faster you can screen or schedule the initial interview after screening, the more you stand a chance of improving this metric.

What Is an Interview Schedule?

Interview schedules are very similar to interview guides. They’re documents that detail the process and encompass all the interview details, including the interview questions and rating guides. An interview schedule could tell you what should happen at any given moment of a hiring interview.

What’s the Difference Between Walk-in Interviews and Scheduled Interviews?

A walk-in interview is an unscheduled, informal interview companies typically use for volume hiring, whereas a scheduled interview is more formal.

What Is a Self-Scheduled Interview?

A self-scheduled interview is when the candidate selects the best interview slot for them using an online interview scheduling tool. The interviewer’s availability is pre-loaded into the platform, so there’s no need for back-and-forth coordination to find a time and day that works. It can also be called on-demand candidate scheduling.

What Are the Benefits of Having Candidates Self-Schedule Interviews?

Here are a few of the main benefits of using a platform that supports interview self-scheduling:

  • Empowers candidates
  • Offers a better candidate experience
  • Reduces ghosting
  • Cuts down admin work
  • Smooths out sticking points in the recruitment cycle at each interview stage
  • Speeds up time to hire
  • Avoids double booking
  • Provides data on the process

What To Look for When Selecting an Interview Scheduler Tool

Consider your organization’s job interview scheduling process and list what features are need-to-have and nice-to-have.

Here are some standard features that interview schedulers have:

  • Calendar integration with iCloud, Outlook, Office 365, Exchange, and Google
  • ATS and video provider integrations
  • Automated emails and SMS notifications, and reminders
  • Customized scheduling page
  • Supports various interview formats (round-robin interviewing, virtual hiring events, etc.)
  • Mobile compatibility
  • Templates to make processes easy and repeatable

The best interview scheduling software for your organization is a solution that elevates your current process and helps you improve your hiring KPIs.

The Modern Guide to Structured Interviewing: Ebook

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