Although this has to vary greatly by situation, is there any "reasonable range" for the amount of time between the A) the announcement of the position, interviews, and offer and b) the required start date? I mean for a job that is not a very lowest-rung position (like a fast food cashier) but for something, say, that requires an advanced degree.

This "lead time" (or is there a better term?) will often matter greatly to the prospective employee, since often a significant amount of time is necessary to make a transition--and much more so if moving from some distance is involved. E.g, one may have to travel, interview, decide the offer; give notice and fulfill final obligations with one's current employer; leave one's current housing (either arrange leaving a rental or selling one's home, plus wrap utilities); find and agree to and deposit for new housing; move; set up utilities/banking/address corrections; possibly arrange school matters if children are involved; possibly look for new work for one's spouse; etc. Getting this all done right can mean a great deal to the quality of life one has in the new environment, but getting it right takes time.

Just, say, two weeks seems absurd for doing all this (for other than internal candidates), whereas a year seems like far more time than is needed. But what is considered reasonable practice in companies nowadays? What is the range that is out there (in terms of what you've experienced or heard about)? (This is for the United States, major city).

  • 4
    This question borders on the "I would like to have a discussion about ____" realm. What is the problem you are trying to solve? Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 19:39
  • @chad No, I am looking for information about business hiring conventions so that, if I am evaluating a job with a too-tight lead time, I can (if I knew the convention) either push for extension, reject the offer, or just factor it out of my considerations. Knowing the convention is valuable information; not knowing it risks having unreasonable expectations that may harm one in the job market.
    – Chelonian
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 19:59
  • @Chad I've added the country info (U.S.)
    – Chelonian
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 20:11
  • Are you asking about the time between announcing an opening and the start date; or between when they make an offer to the new employee and the start date? Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 21:45
  • @mhoran_psprep Ideally, both intervals (though I didn't make this clear enough). The announce->start interval contains the offer->start interval, so it constrains it. But if I had to know just one, I'm most interested in the offer->start interval.
    – Chelonian
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 2:07

4 Answers 4


The entire process from announcement to start date covers several important events each of which can take a range of time.

Announce to Interviews

  • Many companies have a minimum amount of time that a position announcement has to be open. If they go with a minimum window they most likely have a candidate in mind, or they are hoping only for internal candidates. They will let these internal candidates know exactly when the job posting will open and close. I have worked for companies that had a 5 business day minimum, but if there were extenuating circumstances (trying to hire from the RIF list) it could be as small as one day.
  • A position with a large window, lets say a month or more, is fishing for either a large number of resumes because it is a hard position to fill; or they are collecting resumes because they are trying to fill a generic position, and when any of the customers need a junior developer they can pick from the resumes collect in the last month.


  • This can be accomplished in days or weeks. It depends on how many resumes they down selected to. If they are trying to fill a large number of positions they may run interviews 12 hours a day. If they are only filling one slot at a time they may take a slower schedule.
  • Some screening is usually done via telephone. But this is not a requirement.
  • Bringing in candidates from another city is tricky. It can increase the cost of the search. It would depend on the position and the budget. It is easier and cheaper if the candidate can provide the transportation. Scheduling out of town candidates can extend the interview portion of the process.
  • Some customers want to make the final determination. They request that they get to interview the final best candidate. This can throw a wrench into the timing and it can delay the process if they reject the best candidate.

Background check

  • This is the great unknown.
  • For some positions it is required by the customer that the background check be very extensive and be completed before they will start paying for the employee. That means you have to have another contract to put them on while waiting for the check to be completed. This check can take up to a year based on backlogs.
  • Sometimes the customer expects a very detailed investigation and will pay for it. That means that the employee or the company starts the process and once an interim check has been completed in a few weeks, they can start work/billing.
  • In other cases the background check takes a couple of days.
  • Many of these checks involve a drug test.
  • Even if an internal candidate has a completed background investigation from an earlier project, it can still take a couple of weeks for the customer to review and approve it.
  • The time for this window is a mixture of customer requirements, and candidate status. I have seen candidates rejected because they will not be able to complete the process in the time allotted.

Offer to Start date - Expect the candidate to need a few days to review the offer. They will want to review the salary and benefits. - Then negotiation of the start date begins. - If they are unemployed the candidate wants to start ASAP. - If the company has a contractual deadline they want the candidate to start ASAP. - The standard is to give 2 weeks notice. That notice will only be given after the start date is firm. - The employee may not want a gap between jobs. Some will want a gap, but this means that they have vacation to burn, or they already had vacation scheduled. - Some senior positions may want to give longer notice, but the list of positions in the US that require longer notice is very small.

Moving - The candidate has to think of this before they apply. Most job openings will specify if they will pay relocation expenses. - They will have to find out what the limits are. Is it a flat $ amount, or a maximum amount for certain expense categories: transportation of people, transportation of goods, hotel expenses for a month... - Before applying for a position in another city they will have to determine what they will do about the children finishing school in the old city. Do they have to break their lease, sell their house...


It tends to relate to your level (and sometimes pay frequency too).

Non managerial workers, entry level, minimum wage and weekly paid employees usually give 1 to 2 weeks notice.

Managers and supervisors usually give 2-4 weeks notice.

Senior executives usually give about 1-3 months.

However there are a great deal of factors that will affect the above, including:

  • Number of employees at firm (start-ups vs. multi-national) with smaller firms sometimes having shorter times due to the fast changing and chaotic nature of the industry they are in.

  • Time on the job. Though not enforced with written-down rules, there's a general acknowledgement that the longer you have been in a professional job, the more time is appropriate to give to ensure that all your stuff can be smoothly handed off to someone else.... the same way they would want you to do the same when you eventually leave the new organization many years down the line.

  • Reason for leaving. If an employee is leaving for personal reasons but have been doing a great job, the standard notice (above) will normally apply. However an employee who is not doing well - and also want to leave sooner may be able to do that.

  • Actual level of the job. I said 1-2 weeks for weekly paid. However if you are a migrant farm worker, that won't apply. Similarly I managed senior management, but in the case of CEO's of major multinational companies it is not uncommon to have periods of up to a year as 'notice'.

  • Compensation. A company may decide (and be in the position) to 'buy someone out', i.e. pay their current company to release you. However this is more typical for NBA superstars than regular folks ;)

  • Any need for a background check before being allowed to start the new job. This can easily take 1-3 months also.

  • 1-3 months for a background check? I got my Security clearance in 3 days. Unless you are dealing with a government entity as an employer 3 months for a security check would seem excessive. Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 21:08
  • @Chad -not USA, but my background check took 9 weeks. Depends on the level of check and potential backlogs
    – Amy
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 7:27
  • @Amy - I suspect it depends more on how much the firm is willing to spend to expedite the check. You get the service you pay for. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 12:40
  • 1
    @Chad - The length for a security clearance really depends on several factors. The term security clearance is not often used in the private sector. A security background is an entirely different process.
    – Donald
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 13:55
  • @Ramhound - A clearance is generally more in depth it can require developed references(references your refrences provide that you have not already) as well as other factors. I admit I had someone prep me on what I would need to get the security clearance through and was able to make sure all my ducks were in a row before we even submitted. Then had my references ready with references. I suspect it would be harder to do this today (15 years later with more history to account for). Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 15:27

This will vary by country. However, in the US, 2 weeks is a standard notice to give your curent employer. Many people take an additonal week after that before they report to the next employer. This is especially true if you have to move as you have to plan on working that whole two weeks of the notice period. However, all this is negotiable, sometimes a company needs you immediately and taking that extra week means you won't get the job. I have even seen companies insist that you don't give 2 weeks notice because they need you to start on Monday. A higher management position may require more lead time as far as notice (I've noticed most of our senior managers give at least a month's notice).


In the US...

This depends on both the needs of the business and the needs of the candidate. Typically a 2 week period is sufficient to complete back ground checks and required notice from previous positions.

However if there is a need for a faster turn around a standard background check can be done in 24 hours. If the back ground check was performed prior to the offer then that would not be required. Assuming no problems with the initial drug screen there are tests that can be performed that take less than 30 minutes for results. Some times it takes longer if there is a false positive (or true positive) but these tests can generally be performed in under 24 hours as well. Do it is possible from a logistics perspective to start very quickly. Most companies will handle the HR paperwork after start date anyway. So if the need is great for the company it is possible for the start date to be right away. I have had offers on Friday with a Monday start date(usually contracts where I have a current background and drug test). And more frequently offers with a week between offer and start date.

If the need is not pressing there are companies that will provide a distant start date. Generally these are for temporary or contract positions. However if you need 4 - 6 weeks lead time to fulfill an obligation some times companies will make the offer with the distant start date. But it has been my experience that offers will be extended closer to the end date of a commitment rather than leave an offer out there for several extra weeks.

If relocation will be involved generally there will be a period where the work is performed on site and temporary housing is provided(not usually at company expense). Some companies will offer reimbursement relocation expenses but usually after 90 or 180 days of employment. You can occasionally find a company that will provide local housing expense reimbusement during this initial phase but it seems less frequent over the last few years.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .