The job interview process is probably the most crucial part to a successful hiring. And without successful people on board – from the switchboard operator, over Research & Development and accounts receivables to the CEO – no company will stay in business.

Much has been written (including on this blog) on how to master the job interview, both for the hiring manager and the candidate. This is the quality part. What about the quantity, more specifically: how many job interviews are too many?

I have heard everything from we hire after “1 phone interview” to “17 personal interviews”.

It is difficult to give a clear answer. My experience after more than 15 years’ in recruitment is:

  • There should be no less than two physical meetings between candidate and future manager. I feel it is important to meet once, go away, digest and come back to see if the first impression is consistent. I have seen people change from interview 1 to interview 2 and anything that is inconsistent, is not good in business (or child education…).
  • If the interview process gets too long, you risk losing the momentum – and the candidate. In recruitment, time is always your enemy. Always. Always! The argument I have heard from my clients “if s/he is really motivated, s/he will wait” falls short: your company is not the best one in the world even though we all think so (hey, by the way: Kennedy Executive REALLY is the best executive search firm in the world or at least, I think so. Call us in Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, Denver, Frankfurt, London, Milan, Monaco, Paris or Prague to find out). Let’s do the math: two interviews with the direct superior, one with HR, one final with senior leadership make 4 maximum (for junior to middle management positions). If you have more than 4 interviews for middle management jobs, I invite you to question the process. I personally refuse to accept assignments in middle management if there are more than 5 interviews as chances are high we will lose the candidate on the way.


Conclusion:

Hiring is an art and a science. The impact of a bad hire can be costly and create internal frustration and dis-equilibrum. Too few interviews risk not to give you the information you need which are for the hiring manager essentially “is this person able to do the job, does s/he want to do the job and will s/he fit into the corporate culture?” and for the candidate “can I do the job will I learn and grow and do I want to spend time with these people?”. Too many interviews bear the risk of losing momentum and giving the impression of inefficiency.

What do YOU think? How many job interviews should be run and how many are too many?