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How Many Interviews Are Too Many When You’re Job Hunting?

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By Susan Hoffman
Edge Managing Editor

Recently, a post written by software engineer Mike Conley went viral on LinkedIn. In the post, Conley announced his decision to withdraw his name from consideration for a job with an unnamed organization. Among the reasons Conley gave for his withdrawal was that he had already undergone three interviews, and the company wanted to schedule six more.

Conley’s post clearly struck a nerve with job hunters. To date, his article has received over one million views and generated over 3,900 comments. Forbes and the BBC picked up the story and did their own articles on Conley’s post as well.

Sadly, Conley’s experience with a high number of interviews is far from unique. I once heard a recruiter’s story about a candidate who was clearly a rock star in his field. The company put the candidate through a grueling nine interviews, only to reject him because “he didn’t live on the right side of the Potomac.”

The recruiter suspected racism (the candidate was African American) and ceased doing business with that company. Happily, the candidate found another job and became an excellent hire.

Interviews from an Organization’s Perspective

To be fair, interviewing job candidates is far from easy. The organization has to whittle down the candidates to a group of 6-10 people, find the job seekers who seem most promising, and arrange for phone, Zoom, Skype, or on-site interviews. After the initial round of interviews, some candidates may be given tests to ensure they have the abilities they’re promising and often come back for additional interviews to assess their cultural fit.

Then, a final candidate is selected and given the offer to become an employee. If the company takes too long to make an offer, however, the candidate might lose interest or take a job with a competitor.

The cost of hiring the wrong candidate is high. Financially speaking, a bad hire can cost an organization anywhere from $14,000 to $240,000, notes HR Exchange Network.

There are also organizational costs relating to a bad hire. According to Apollo Technical, “Poor hires can result in lost productivity and expenses in hiring, recruiting and training replacements.”

Aim for 1-4 Interviews When Possible

The number of interviews that you are asked to undergo will vary according to the type of job you’re seeking. TRC Staffing observes, “An entry-level job may only require one [interview] to properly assess the candidate, while mid-level or highly technical roles may need two (especially if a technical interview would be beneficial to the process).

“Executive or upper management positions could require more than two, depending on the size of the company. In some cases, a fourth interview may be justified.”

The number of interviews may also depend on whether or not the organization has a human resources department. Smaller companies, for example, may not have an HR department, so you may end up speaking directly to company owners who double as hiring managers.

The best rule is to aim for no more than three or four interviews for most jobs. However, keep in mind that highly technical roles like engineering might require additional interviews, depending upon the caution level of the company.

Use your best judgment. Also, ask yourself these questions if the number of interviews starts to grow uncomfortably high:

  • Does the company seem disorganized or unable to make decisions?
  • Are the hiring managers or HR taking several months to make a decision or communicate with me?
  • In previous interviews, did interviewers ask questions that clearly showed that they had read my resume?
  • In panel interviews, did everyone pay attention or were some of the interviewers more interested in their phones or laptops?
  • Is this company respectful of the time and expense I’m undergoing to attend interviews?

Ask Career Services for Help

If you’re seeking a job and have been contacted about an interview, our Career Services department can help you practice your interviewing skills through a mock interview. Other complimentary services offered to our alumni and current students include:

For more information or to set up an appointment, contact Career Services.

Susan Hoffman is a Managing Editor at APU Edge, whose articles have appeared in multiple publications. Susan is known for her expertise in blogging, social media, SEO, and content analytics, and she is also a book reviewer for Military History magazine. She has a B.A. cum laude in English from James Madison University and an undergraduate certificate in electronic commerce from American Public University.

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