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The Interview Marathon: When Does Quantity Eclipse Quality for Candidates?

By Helen Trainor 


What is your interview and hiring process? This is a question most candidates ask recruiters. Is your answer one of these? 

 

  • We don’t have one. 

  • It’s disorganized and inefficient. 

  • It’s exhausting!  

 

Chances are, if you feel this way, your team agrees and it's just as tough for candidates. The impact of the interview and hiring process is HUGE. It affects your ability to recruit and retain top talent and can even start to affect your online reviews/employer brand. Let’s dive into interview fatigue and what you can do to prevent it for your team and your candidates. 



 

What does your process tell candidates? 

 

If you don’t have a defined process, make defining it a goal for 2024. Being dragged through a piecemeal process and not getting regular updates on next steps (and feeling ghosted or unwanted) are the top reasons candidates remove themselves from consideration. It is also a top motivator for leaving a bad review for your firm on Glassdoor or other online company review sites. 

 

Why does defining the process make a difference? 

 

A well-defined and explained process sends the message that your company is well run and focused on the employee experience. All candidates are potential employees, so your employee experience starts with your candidate experience. Think through these issues. It’s more than the number of interviews. It’s who they are with. It’s how the schedules of those you want involved will impact the time in between interviews. That in turn affects the entire length of the process. Do you need to have the founder/CEO included? Make sure there is a defined schedule/deadline for meeting with senior leaders. Talk through availability and scheduling with candidates. Setting expectations on the process both internally and externally up front makes a huge impact and difference in the candidate’s experience. 

 

How many people in the interview is too many? 

 

The only thing that upends a candidate’s experience more than the number of interviews is the number of people in the interview. Make sure to not only explain the number and type of interviews but who will be present and why. Nothing is worse for a candidate than arriving for an interview they think is with one or two people and finding they are in a large panel interview, or they are meeting with 4 or 5 people. Most top candidates want the opportunity to research the people with whom they are interviewing. 

 

How many interviews are too many? 

 

Many experts from media and industry agree the right answer is between 2 and 4 interviews. The main factor driving the right number is the level of position. For an entry-level position, two interviews are typically enough for most firms to decide. A more senior-level role might require three or even four. Regardless of the number, defining the process and reminding the candidate of the next steps is the most important part.  

 

If the first interview is with HR and the second is with the Hiring Manager, who is needed for a third interview and why? If the COO of the company is meeting with every candidate, what does that say? If you told a candidate there will be four interviews and the COO was the fourth, why is there a fifth interview? What does that say about the ability to make decisions? Does your firm have paralysis by analysis? 

 

So, what is the answer?  

 

Although there are many thoughts on the right number, there is a large consensus from experts that five or more is the wrong number. Even for senior-level roles, when candidates are asked for a fifth interview, they start losing faith in their candidacy and in working with your organization. Some organizations want to have more hiring managers involved to try to get a larger buy-in on candidates or to try to remove any subconscious bias from the process. But too many people and too many interviews can feel as if there are no new questions to be answered; there is nothing you still need to learn from the candidate or discover about how they would approach the new role or solve problems your firm is facing. Too many steps can cause candidates to reconsider their decision to continue to interview. Not engaging with them on the how and why they want the role and asking them to “sell” you on their candidacy or ideas leaves candidates feeling as if you are trying to take their intellectual property and new ideas rather than grow your team.  

 

Take some time and reflect on these questions. Then, talk with the last three to five employees who went through your hiring process. Use this information to address the interview paradox and define or redefine your process in 2024. 

 

Does your company want to streamline its interviewing and hiring process? Consider partnering with our industry experts. At TalentRemedy, we specialize in helping companies recruit diverse and talented individuals. Our team of experts provides consultative and recruiting services. Contact us at info@talentremedy.com or 703-362-0175 to set up a time to learn more about how our team can support your hiring needs. 

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