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How Many Job Interviews Are Too Many?

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?

 

Jorg Stegemann
Jorg Stegemann - Headhunter, Certified Coach and Business Writer - is head of Kennedy Executive Search. Apart from running Kennedy's company blog, he writes for Forbes, BBC and other media.
  1. Susan Reply

    Job interviews really should be kept to a minimum for everyone’s benefit. Typically two interviews is enough unless there are special skills testing, etc that need to take place. I encourage clients to have their first round of interviews, then for the second round ensure that all the people the candidate should meet are going to be available. When a candidate has already had 2 interviews, then is told someone else needs to meet them but isn’t available and so they’ll have to come back again – is just frustrating. Many candidates are already in work and requiring them to keep taking days off or having ‘doctors’ appointments so they can attend multiple interviews for the same job is unfair, disruptive and stressful. I would encourage employers to be organised for interviews and be decisive. It sets the tone – first impressions work both ways!

  2. Sue Reply

    I think it really depends on the position that you’re advertising. There may need to be a skills testing day for example. On the whole two interviews seems to be taken as the norm – and usually the second interview is a good opportunity to introduce the person to the team they will be working with. Then it gives the interviewer an idea as to how they’ll fit in.

  3. Greg Reply

    I like the thinking, here. I’ve heard of too many candidates, and friends for that matter, who endured 4 or 5 interviews for one position. That just seems like “overkill.”

    • Jorg Stegemann
      Jorg Stegemann Reply

      Thanks, Greg. I understand this reasoning what you are saying!

  4. Valeria Reply

    Interview arranging can help sort out your recruiting techniques. Acquire the Streamlined and predictable recruiting process is fundamental to any fruitful procuring program. I completely agree with an excessive number of contracting choices depend on the wrong criteria.

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