How Many Interviews are Too Many?

More and more companies are changing the process they use to identify who they want to hire out of the pool of applicants. Some have added questionnaires, which they use to pre-screen applicants before determining who to call. Others add IQ tests. Some have:

  • Phone interviews
  • Skype Interviews
  • Panel interviews
  • First Interviews
  • Second Interviews
  • Third interviews

In between, they may ask for samples of work completed, have follow up phone calls, and more…

At some point, it’s too much.

The Upper Limit of Interviews and Candidate Vetting

There are some companies that do not do enough. They have maybe one interview and if they like the person they hire them. That’s not the best way to find new hires because there are simply too many variables that go into determining who is the right fit for your company.

But some businesses go too far with the opposite approach. They make the applicant go through an almost unreasonable amount of work for a job they still may not get. They have interview after interview. Extra interviews because someone was sick. Phone screenings. Asking for the creation of samples. Personality tests – on and on and on.

Businesses need to respect their candidates’ time, even while balancing the need for proper vetting. Often candidates need to take sick days just to get to an interview, or are putting in hours upon hours of work and time only to find they did not get the job. This process is gruelling and, in many cases, does more to hurt your ability to find great talent than it does help your cause:

  • Great Talent May Not Have Time – Those that are working may eventually not be able to continue to attend the interviews, or may decide it is no longer worth their time to do so. The more extensive the process, the more you may force out some potential contributors.
  • Interest Can Fade Quickly – Those that genuinely want to work for an employer but do not get one job may still apply for another in the future. That’s something that you want as a company: people that are interested in you. But if your process to hire is too extensive, applicants may want to avoid being forced to go through that process, take time off work, etc., only to not get the job again.
  • Too Much Information – Scientists often talk about what happens if you have too much data. At some point, if you look at data from a wide variety of sources, you may eventually find correlations and relationships where none exist. Think of it this way – if you have an IQ test, sample work, reference checks, and 5 interviews, at some point the applicant may mess up. But if they passed 95% of the process, at what point does that 5% no longer matter?
  • Process Leaks – There is a word of mouth component of applying for jobs. If someone has a bad experience with your company, they are going to tell their friends, and their friends are less likely to be willing to apply for jobs at your company in the future. Your process should make sense to anyone that applies. Truly amazing career opportunities, like those that pay well for notoriously great companies, can get away with a bit more because people will always want to work there. But other companies are not so lucky.
  • Turning You Down – Even if you choose to hire them, the more extensive the interview process the less likely they will be to accept the job or be excited that they work there. This is especially true for jobs that do not offer competitive pay or benefits. There are countless examples of companies that put applicants through hours upon hours of vetting, only for the applicant to turn down the job once offered because of their frustration.

So there is no specific number of interviews that is too many. There is also no rule about what you can make the person do. It is helpful to have a thorough process in place to make sure that you’re hiring the right people.

Just remember to be respectful of their time. The more you decide to put them through to get the job, the more the job will need to be worth it for the applicant, and justifiable for getting the position.

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