Hiring Journey: How Many Interviews Are Too Many?

What are the risks of a lengthy job interview process, and what’s the magic number of interviews that employers should strive for? We have the answers.

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Hiring Journey: How Many Interviews Are Too Many?

Here's what you need to know:

  • Lengthy interview processes can lead to a real scenario referred to as candidate "interview fatigue"
  • Competitors may swoop in and steal a top-quality hire from a company that seems to be dragging its feet
  • There are variables to consider for each company, but research shows that 2 to 4 interviews seems to be the magic number
  • To get the most out of the interview process, employers should choose the best interview method and build a detailed job description
  • Employers should also analyze resumes, communicate clearly with candidates, use personality tests, and consider a recruiter

Conversations surrounding hiring practices and retention rates have always been a component of business. After the chaos and upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, that conversation has only grown in fervor.

Companies are working harder than ever to find skilled, qualified candidates to bring on board. And the outlook doesn’t seem to be improving anytime soon.

According to the Bureau of U.S. Labor Statistics, there were 10.7 million job openings at the end of June 2022. Before the onset of the pandemic, there were about 7 million job openings.

The number climbed to 9 million by the spring of 2021. The number of open positions in the U.S. has stayed just under 11 million ever since.

With so much activity around recruiting and hiring, companies must focus on more than just attracting job seekers. Getting people to show up for an initial interview is the 1st step in what can be a long, drawn-out process.

Companies understand the importance of finding the right person for the job. They will often use a series of interviews to ensure the person they hire is the absolute best choice.

But what happens when a company puts candidates through too many interviews? Candidates may grow weary of showing up for interview after interview, with no end in sight.

Lengthy interview processes can lead to a real scenario referred to as “interview fatigue.” The result is often a job seeker who decides the time and effort put forth to get hired isn’t worth the trouble.

So, how many interviews are too many? This article seeks to answer that question and provide companies with some simple guidelines to help streamline the hiring process for all involved.

What factors into the cost of hiring the right person?

Before we can figure out how many interviews is the magic number, it may be helpful to understand more clearly why companies put candidates through a ringer of interviews before bringing them onboard.

The number 1 reason for this practice: hiring is expensive.

Companies face a long list of expenses involved with hiring a single employee, such as:

  • Advertising of open job positions
  • The cost of specific recruitment efforts
  • Paying hiring managers and HR executives to conduct interviews
  • Training and onboarding costs for new employees
  • Cost of benefits and insurance offerings
  • Potential lost revenue from lowered productivity related to a learning curve
  • The risk of losing the investment made when a new employee doesn’t work out

It’s easy to see that hiring requires a significant investment of time and money. So, companies who go that extra mile during the interview process may seem justified.

In theory, wouldn’t it be better to conduct a few extra interviews in exchange for the benefit of finding the perfect employee? Maybe so, but there is risk involved with this approach as well.

Candidates today are looking for a streamlined hiring process. They don’t have the time or resources to wait for weeks while companies decide their fate. Many job seekers are unemployed and possibly only a month or 2 away from financial disaster.

What are the risks of a lengthy interview timeline?

Companies take big risks by making candidates jump through too many hoops. A hiring cycle that takes too long negatively affects both the job seeker and the company.

While the company conducts interview after interview, positions stay unfilled. Candidates face weeks of uncertainty, leading them to lose confidence in their chances and potentially look elsewhere.

Interview fatigue

There is always a real possibility that candidates will get fed up with a hiring process that involves too many interviews. It increases the possibility that candidates will lose interest in an organization and look elsewhere.

A competitive job market

Let’s not forget that the number of organizations actively hiring has only multiplied in recent years. What does that mean for companies that want a string of interviews before hitting the button? It means that competitors may swoop in and steal a top-quality hire from a company that seems to be dragging its feet.

How many interviews are too many? – The magic number

Is there truly a magic number of interviews that results in finding the right person without scaring away the top talent? Not really. The answer depends on several factors:

  • Size and complexity of an organization
  • Industry or business type
  • The need for highly skilled workers versus entry-level employees
  • Time frame for needed hires
  • Number of hires needed
  • Resources available

Even with all these variables in play, research shows that a ballpark figure of 2 to 4 interviews seems to be the magic number.

Studies conducted by talent acquisition company Veris Insights show that 63% of job seekers feel 2 interviews are enough. However, 67% of companies require at least 2 interviews before making a final decision.

Research shows that a ballpark figure of 2 to 4 interviews seems to be the magic number.

Google is a company famous for requiring candidates to go through a lengthy hiring process. The company previously required up to 12 interviews for certain job roles but has since pared down the process significantly.

The company conducted its own research into the effectiveness of its interview process. In doing so, they discovered that interviewers had made up their minds after the 4th interview.

Subsequent interviews barely moved the needle — the company found that the decision to hire or not didn’t change after the 4th interview, even if they reached the dozen mark.

How to get the most out of the interview process

If the prime number of interviews is only a handful, companies must find ways to get the most out of those interviews. Below are some tips organizations can use to help streamline their hiring process.

Choose the best interview method

The rise of video conferencing has made interviewing easier than ever. Companies that choose the right combination of interview types can expedite the process without losing value.

Build a detailed job description

Including all the requirements and expectations in the job description helps weed out unqualified candidates.

Analyze resumes

Resumes are a great tool for hiring managers when used correctly. Look for candidates who have a skill set that matches the requirements of the role.

Use personality tests

Personality tests provide a way for companies to match potential employees with the culture of an organization. This is important because employees who feel as if they don’t fit with a company’s culture tend to look elsewhere.

Communicate with candidates

Set a clear deadline for a decision and communicate the intention to candidates. They will appreciate the transparency and won’t feel as if they’re hanging in the wind.

Consider a recruiter

Large organizations or those with specific hiring needs may benefit from using a recruiting agency. These companies perform much of the initial legwork and even conduct the initial interview for you.

What’s your biggest 2022 HR challenge that you’d like to resolve

Answer to see the results

What’s the magic number of interviews for your company?

It seems that the “right” number of interviews depends on the needs of each organization and even on the specific job role. However, companies that conduct between 2 and 4 interviews seem to have the best luck attracting and retaining talent.

This number ensures candidates won’t give up on the process without seeing it through. Furthermore, it helps companies manage the costs associated with recruitment and hiring while still guaranteeing they can find qualified talent.

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