How many interviews does it take to get a job? This is a question we are often asked by our candidates when they receive invitations to several rounds of interviews. Particularly when a first interview goes exceptionally well, many interviewees can’t help but wonder why the need for further cross-examination? Moreover, it can be extremely frustrating for candidates when attending multiple rounds of interviews does not lead to a job offer.
In theory, if you are the strongest candidate for a role, it should only take a maximum of three rounds of interviews before you know you’ve got a job offer. That is, of course, providing you are adequately prepared and give the interviewers all the information they want to hear in your responses. But why so many, if you are the best candidate for the job?
Of course, there is no hard and fast rule as to how many rounds of interviews are considered acceptable. Indeed, the number of interviews a company will conduct before making a decision varies from company to company. Based on our experience, we can divulge the reason why many companies don’t base a decision on their first introduction.
Interview Expectations VS Reality
When candidates embark on a job search, they may envisage the hiring process looking something like this:
- Search job boards for the ideal job
- Craft winning CV & cover letter
- Submit job application
- Receive interview invite
- Research the company & prepare for an interview
- Attend interview
- Accept an offer of employment
- Start a new job by the end of the month
Unfortunately, the interview process is rarely this simple. Often, candidates must pass a telephone interview before receiving an invite to a face-to-face meeting. If this round is a success, candidates may still need to appear before interviewers a second time. So rather than the eight steps highlighted above, applicants often get frustrated when this becomes ten or more.
How The Interviewing Process Has Changed
It used to be true that companies might wait until they had at least ten suitable CVs before compiling a shortlist. Once they arrived at a decision, they would progress through a three-round interviewing system to find the best candidate. The recruitment process they follow might typically look something like this:
- Telephone interview
- First face to face interview
- Second face to face interview
However, the recruitment technology available now means that candidates can apply for jobs much more quickly. Consequently, once their CV becomes available, they disappear from the market much quicker than they used to. This means that hiring managers have to progress much more quickly to interview.
While the three-round system is still widely used, hiring managers will rarely wait to find ten good candidates any more. Instead, the moment they come across a good CV, they will try to arrange a telephone interview with that individual as soon as possible.
Why Do Companies Have So Many Rounds Of Interviews?
Companies can spend a great deal of time interviewing lots of applicants before they find their perfect fit. It is extremely rare for a hiring manager to decide after just one meeting. In larger companies, this is usually because several people will need to agree before reaching a decision.
Furthermore, the different stages of the interview process are all designed to find out various pieces of information. Below is a little insight into what hiring managers expect to achieve at each stage of the process.
No matter how excited hiring managers are to meet an applicant, they will almost always arrange a telephone interview first. There are two main reasons for this.
The first reason for this is that there are always certain ‘dealbreakers’ when recruiting for any role. Telephone interviews help to weed out unsuitable candidates based on these fundamental requirements.
For example, if a company has a problem retaining staff from a particular area, due to the problematic commute. In this case, interviewers are likely to discuss any issues the employee might have with travelling to work during the telephone interview. Only once interviewers are satisfied that an applicant’s daily commute is no issue, will they be invited to a meeting in person.
Secondly, it is not uncommon for applicants to embellish the truth on their CV. In fact, Career Builder estimates that 75% of hiring managers have caught candidates doing exactly that. Interviewers will, therefore, ask questions to ascertain whether or not their applicant’s skills stack up to what’s on their CV.
Face to Face Interviews
If you receive an invitation to a face to face interview, the company wants to give you the job. It’s up to you to prove them right and convince them that you are worthy of a job offer.
Of course, they could spend longer on the phone, asking more detailed questions. Although, when meeting someone face to face, an interviewer can ascertain certain things about them without questioning. It’s incredible just how much they can learn about you from your body language and behaviour, such as:
- Punctuality – do you turn up on time?
- Are you too keen – do you arrive too early?
- How easily you get along with employees throughout the business – are you polite to the receptionist?
- What your organisation skills are like – are you ready when they collect you from reception or are you fumbling around with your belongings?
- How confident are you – do you have a firm handshake?
- How confident are they that you can do this job – your body language can give away many things you don’t say about yourself
- Do you want this job enough – how much research do you do?
- Are you a good culture fit – do you ask questions that make interviewers believe that you are considering whether you will fit in?
Another Interview Invitation? How Many Does it Take?
We can see from above; there is an astonishing amount of information interviewers glean from an interview. Not to mention what they learn by asking awkward interview questions. So, why is it necessary to have further rounds of interviews? There can be many reasons for this; we have outlined the primary ones below.
Many Stakeholders Are Involved
In larger companies, many people will need to give their authorisation before hiring a new employee. For this reason, the department manager and a member of Human Resources are usually present in a first-stage interview.
The department manager, of course, wants to decide who they have working in their department. HR personnel are present to ensure that no discrimination takes place. They also want to see that the hiring manager is acting in the best interests of the business.
Where employees are likely to work with several departments regularly, more than one hiring manager may have questions to ask. Alternatively, the person may need to work closely with a particular team member. In either case, hiring managers will usually only arrange a meeting with other stakeholders once the candidate proves themselves to be a serious contender.
Companies often like to ascertain potential employees’ ability to perform specific tasks or present their ideas on a particular topic. This scenario is particularly common for technical or creative roles. Therefore subsequent rounds of interviews for these kinds of jobs may also be necessary.
How to Keep Days Off to a Minimum
Of course, multiple rounds of interviews are perfectly understandable from the companies points of view. But employees can only fake so many doctors’ appointments to take time off before HR take an interest. So how can they reduce time off work to a minimum?
The obvious answer is to have a five-year plan, factoring in switching jobs for career advancement. Where you foresee the need to apply for a new role, reserve enough days annual leave in the bank to cover attending interviews. Although in reality, how many of us are actually that systematic when it comes to career planning? For our more typical, less organised readers, here are a few ideas for reducing time off work for interviews.
Prioritise Your Time
Employing the expertise of a recruitment agency is the savvy job hunter’s way of saving time during a job search. Recruitment Consultants do a lot of admin on your behalf, which can free up a lot of your time. Furthermore, the better your recruiter gets to know you, the more accurately they can match you to your ideal company. This can save untold hours which you might otherwise waste applying for unsuitable jobs.
Recruitment consultants work longer hours than most businesses to make themselves available to candidates outside of their regular working hours. Take advantage of this by scheduling calls or meetings with them before you start, during lunch-breaks or after work.
Likewise, employers are usually open to the idea of scheduling telephone interviews around your down-time. Use this time wisely and save taking days off until you need to attend a face to face appointment.
Many high street recruitment agencies require a face to face meeting before they will submit applications to their clients on your behalf. Instead, do your research online to find an agency who makes the best use of technology. Attending video interivews, rather than face to face meetings will save you a great deal of time. It makes no sense to waste time travelling when you have so many other considerations during a job search.
Give it Your All!
The more effort you put into your interview preparation, the more likely you are to be rewarded with a job offer. So do your homework, research the company, look smart and be present to increase your chances of success at interview.
Multiple Interview Rounds: A Few Final Thoughts
Being asked to attend multiple rounds of interviews can be a tremendous upheaval. Not only that but booking time off work for them only adds to the stress of job-hunting. But however inconvenient or stressful this may be; unfortunately, it is all part of the process of looking for a new job.
By conducting your job search, cleverly and manage your time effectively, it is possible to keep absences from work to a minimum.
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