1,2,3,4,5,6…. interviews in a recruitment process? So, what’s the right number?

Blog interview Pic

One, two – tell us about you.

three, four – tell us some more.

five, six – no longer slick!

We think it’s fair to say that the number of interviews in any given recruitment process is going to vary a little, and that’s okay. We think it’s also true to say that the majority of job seekers getting through an initial round are enthusiastic about returning for a second meeting. However, is there still excitement for the process by the third, fourth, and fifth…. stage interview?

It used to be fairly normal to attend between one and three stages in the interview process, yet, it seems we have ended up in an era where more and more stages getting tacked on is not out of the ordinary, leaving applicants utterly frustrated and fatigued! 

Can you believe, that in their best-forgotten past, applicants for certain roles at some of the tech giants were put through more than a dozen interviews? They got wise in the end, examined their interview data which told them four interviews was enough to make a hiring decision with 86% confidence, and subsequently decided beyond that fourth stage there was little added value to their process.

So, whilst stating (what you would think would be the obvious), that twelve is too many it remains to be debated – how many rounds of interviews is it reasonable for an employer to conduct to assess a candidate before the process is perceived as exhaustive? Similarly, how many stages should a candidate be prepared to commit to in a show of dedication towards an organisation they are hoping to join?

Naturally, there are going to be an array of factors that determine how many interviews there may be for a particular role such as the seniority of the role and perhaps any specialism. And yes, hiring is expensive, so companies want to make sure that their interview process goes to ensure the best effort is made to secure the right person for the role. 

But heed the drawn-out interview processes that could potentially culminate in applicants who feel the investment of their time is no longer worthwhile as there is no guarantee of success at the end and therefore take their talent elsewhere!

Expectations can, of course, also play a large role. If a candidate has been through several stages and the company springs another few rounds into the equation there is bound to be a level of exasperation. Would you still be gung-ho by interview number five or six or would you be silently and fervently planning a future campaign for a cap on the number of interviews applicants are “invited” to attend?

We truly believe there would also be a discrepancy between the number a candidate gives to the question of “how many interviews is enough?” to that of the employer. Now, hear us out, although it is certainly an investment of their time, we would hedge that an employer’s number will be higher because one could argue that the stakes are higher. They need to secure the best candidate on the market that fits their culture without having to repeat the process, right? The interviewee, on the other hand, wants to ensure they make an informed decision on their career move, naturally, but undoubtedly is impatient to know at the earliest possible stage if they are the successful applicant or not. 

Now, you may well have noticed or even taken part in the poll we did recently to ascertain where your thoughts sit on this matter. Well, you could have knocked us over with a feather, the overwhelming majority, that’s 67% of you, came back with two rounds being the optimum! I guess, based on our theory, most of you are job-seeking and we’ll be speaking to you soon! 

Only kidding (we think?) but the poll threw back some very interesting data indeed. 13% taking the poll felt that one interview was enough to determine “when you know, you know!” and 17% felt that three to four stages were in the right zone for decision-making to take place. What can we say about the 2% (you know who you are, possibly the ex-hiring team for those tech giants we mentioned earlier who might have liked to have seen an extra option for 6+) now, you felt strongly that five or six interviews were where the process should lie.

So, where does that leave us then? Does that sample poll lend towards a movement for majority wins or does it just go to show you can’t please all of the people all of the time therefore employers and applicants alike shouldn’t necessarily attempt to? 

Does it vindicate each employer doing what needs to be done for their measures to get the “right” person, providing their process is clearly outlined from the get-go with justified reasoning behind each stage?

And if so, what about the candidate? Well, candidates thereby must be empowered from the start to determine whether their interest level in the role and the business warrants the time off and research that will be required throughout the process to strive to obtain that job offer – be it by the end of round one or indeed round six! It’s true to say, in our experience, that candidates will remain engaged in a process if all the stages are with relevant stakeholders who can provide great insight, and challenge and realise this is a two-way conversation. Interviews that are fresh, structured and not just a repeat of previous interviews covering the same ground. Of course, it goes without saying that the process needs to be transparent and the candidate knows the detail around the stages and what’s involved from the start. Dare we even mention the many stories we’ve heard about candidates attending multiple interview stages and investing so much time and energy into interviews only to then hear that the internal candidate they knew nothing about had pipped them to the post…….. if you’d known this at the start would you have even accepted the invite to the first interview? 

 ….that’s a whole different story and blog! 

If any of this resonates and you’d like to have a chat, then we’d love to hear from you! 

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