Screening, Assessment, Interviewing

Is Your Company Conducting Too Many Interviews?

Multiple interviews allow for greater insight into a candidate’s skills, ability, personality, and motivation. At the same time, multiple interviews allow a job candidate to learn more about a company and its culture.

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But how many interviews are too many?

Determining Participants

Before getting anyone involved in the interview process, a company should make sure the person has a reason to be involved. Is she a hiring manager? Is he a direct supervisor?

Needless to say, the people conducting interviews should be familiar with the job requirements, including the must-haves and the nice-to-haves. And all interviewers should be on the same page as far as hiring criteria.

The purpose of conducting multiple interviews is to gain different perspectives, in order to make a better hiring decision. With this in mind, make sure the person has a perspective to contribute, and that he or she knows how to interview.

Determining Approach

While interviewers should address the same general topic areas, the questions they ask should be different. Asking the same questions of a candidate comes across as unprofessional, and provides no new information.

In order to avoid this, determine your approach in advance. For example, a hiring manager may focus on the bigger picture, while a supervisor drills down to specifics of the job.

For certain types of positions, multiple interviews may involve very different formats. When hiring for a sales job, for example, an initial interview may take place in an office setting with the director of sales, while a second interview may involve a ride-along with a sales team leader.

Aim for Expediency

Although you don’t want to rush the process, you do want to respect the candidate’s time and the time of your colleagues. With this in mind, there are several ways to expedite the interview process.

Conduct the first interview via phone or video conferencing. For a position that involves relocation, this is almost always the preferred method for a first interview. Potential downside: You don’t get to meet the candidate in person.

Schedule multiple in-person interviews for the same day. If the job candidate is especially strong, have him or her interview with the hiring manager and direct supervisor on the same day. This will allow for a faster decision, which benefits both the company and the candidate. Potential downside: There is little or no opportunity for discussion between interviews.

Consider a group interview. Popular in certain industries, like academia and health care, a group interview allows all interviewers to meet the candidate at once. Although it is still an interview, it has to be conducted differently. Think of it more as a meeting, where a lot of questions are asked. Potential downsides: A group interview can be intimidating to a candidate. The process requires multiple participants to take time out from their workday.

Making a Decision

While it may seem like more interviews equal more information and more information adds up to a better decision, the opposite can be true. There is such a thing as too much information.

The other issue is consensus. The more people involved in the decision-making process, the more difficult it may be to reach an agreement. Although this isn’t always the case – a star candidate tends to shine, regardless – it is a possible concern, especially in a tight labor market.

So, how many interviews should you conduct before making a decision? It will depend largely on your company and its culture, as well as the position for which you’re hiring. But in general, experts say the ideal number is three to four.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.