Why So Many Interviews?

A reader writes…

Hi, Anita,
Is it typical for companies to interview a candidate multiple times? They often end up asking the same questions! What’s the deal?

Dear, “Interview Insanity,”

Thanks for posting your question. I know that being asked to come in for an interview can be the most exciting news EVER, yet at the same time, it can create anxieties beyond belief.

To top it off, after finishing that first round, you may be asked to come back again, and again, and AGAIN! What a way to get your hopes up, right?

The deal is this… the larger the company, the more likely you WILL be asked to come back for multiple interviews. Many businesses have a policy that says, “It takes 3 to hire… and 3 to fire.” In the case of the hiring process, it is common for candidates to meet with their potential direct supervisor, then possibly with someone at the executive level, maybe a different department head, and even HR. Depending on the position and organizational structure, the list could go on and on.

The real bummer is that often you’ll find you are being asked the same questions by these different folks over and over again. To me, that’s just a big waste of everybody’s time!

Managers (this is for you): Please be sure to communicate with one another throughout the interview process. Find out what questions have already been asked and how they were answered. Share notes and feedback so that you are gathering new content each time and not sounding like a broken record to the poor candidate trying to impress you!

Now, where were we?

In some cases, this group of people may be joined together at the same interview – which reduces the number of return visits, but can be a little intimidating, to say the least. (As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, come prepared with multiple hardcopies of your résumé in case you need to pass them out to multiple attendees.)

So you may be asking yourself, “If I am asked to return several times, does it mean I have a good chance of being hired?” Well gosh darn it, you’d think so! The reality is, however, companies typically narrow down their selection throughout this process. For instance, in the initial interview, you may be up against 7 other candidates. By round two, it may be you against 3 others, then down to the top 2 for yet another round. It all depends. After meeting with so many people from the company, it is natural to get your hopes up. Just remember that if it turns out you are not selected, you need to maintain your composure, avoid burning bridges, and move on.

So tell me readers, how many times have you been asked to return for subsequent interviews? Did you get the job in the end?

Post away!
Anita

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Diana Winkler
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 14:14:20

    I was interviewing with a small company through a headhunter. The heashunter was telling me how much this company was going to love my experience. I felt the first interview went well, and she scheduled me for a second interview with her manger. The interview with the manager went well, I thought, and said they were going to have third interviews and make their decision. I get this email from the headhunter saying the company didn’t extend an offer because I lacked the experience they were looking for. Really? You couldn’t have figured that out in the first interview? I had 7 years experience in the industry, so I knew it wasn’t that. I got no answers from the headhunter as to why I wasn’t hired after all that jazz. Waste of my time.

    Reply

  2. sanjana
    Apr 26, 2013 @ 14:24:15

    Hi Anita,

    I have been looking for jobs quite sometime now (about 2 months). I have had multiple rounds. But there is one job opening which i applied for, and that company has been calling me for multiple rounds, i am done with 5 rounds and they are setting up 6th round! i am not sure what they are expecting from me. Its really bringing down my confidence. Is it that they are not sure about me yet, or is it that they want to make sure they are not doing a mistake. I think companies think only of their benefits these days, they have no clue on how stressful it is for an applicant! Each time i wait that, Oh thank God that went well.. my last round is done.. then they again call in for another! i dont know how to deal with this, cannot discuss the issue with anyone! is this a good or bad indication! i am tired figuring it out.

    Thanks,
    Sanjana

    Reply

  3. John W.
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 10:39:03

    Ever hear the phrase “Purple Squirrel”? I had an experience with a small business. first step was interview with owner, second step was with spouse, third step was an online assessment test, fourth step was back ground form, fifth was to be an interview with the office manager. This covered three weeks. I quit after step four. I honestly could tell that the oqner was not motivated to make a hire but was motivated not to hire. In Sales and in Management there is another phrase; “Analysis Paralysis”. There maybe many that are more fearful of getting it wrong. Either way, it’s not that they can’t or won’t make up their minds, they already have. The decision to not make a decision is by its act a decision.

    Reply

  4. David Storm
    Aug 09, 2012 @ 07:04:04

    Opon a interview with a manufacturing company, I was told by the person who interviewed me,looking in my eyes and shakeing my hand,that I was hired for the position offered! After a week,and several phone calls back to the company,they hired someone else for the position that I was hired for! Needless to say, I’m very upset about this, I feel like I was lied to about being hired for the job,then having the job go to someone else! Is there anything that I can do about this?

    Reply

    • anitaclew
      Aug 17, 2012 @ 15:59:15

      I am so sorry to hear about this. It can be very discouraging to be let down and disappointed. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that you can do in these situations. It is the decision of the potential employer to choose their candidates. Even if you did have a verbal confirmation, it isn’t set in stone until you have filed all the paperwork and signed an employment contract. Even then, in all states except Montana, companies are “at will” employers. This means that they can terminate employment at any time without notification or a reason as to why.

      Job hunting can be frustrating, but keep your chin up and continue on your search. Everything happens for a reason — and who knows, your dream job may be right around the corner.

      -Anita

      Reply

  5. Terry Hanitsch
    Feb 15, 2012 @ 07:19:23

    Hello. I believe that employers who use this multiple interview system are losing valuable possible employees. When you are not hired within three days of your interview, the applicant will most likely be interviewing at other jobs. If I am at an interview and not hired immediately, I will be at another business the next day. Face it employers, I’m there talking to you because I need a job. I’m not going to sit on my hands waiting for you to call me back when I could be putting applications in at other jobs. Also, I wouldn’t be talking to you if I didn’t think I was well qualified for the position you have available. If it takes you two to three weeks to keep interviewing me, I will more than likely be working for someone else. You will have waited too long and lost what would have been a dedicated and loyal employee. Want to make sure that you are not losing out on a good candidate? Have all the particular persons at the iniial interview. Call the candidate the next day. Simple as that. Well, gotta go. Just received a call from a business that I applied at yesterday. I’m hired! Bye!

    Reply

    • m.capriola
      Feb 21, 2012 @ 09:16:31

      First off : Congratulations on getting a job! Yayness!

      As for multiple interviews and such: it’s a buyer’s market these days. There are more people looking for work than there are jobs. Therefore, employers can take their time and be fussy in their selection process.

      Quite a change from a dozen years ago. A place I worked at needed someone to fill a position right away, and there was one in-house application for transfer from another department. Specifically, from Housekeeping to Night Audit.

      Needless to say, there were quite a few eyebrows raised. When asked what this person’s qualifications were, my boss responded, “She’s breathing.”

      She only lasted one night. :)

      It’s a tough slot to fill. Night Auditors are always in demand. So if you know anyone who wants to do a combination of guest service and book-keeping all night long…. 😀 (On the plus side, you get to watch the sun come up.)

      Reply

  6. ACM
    Jan 28, 2012 @ 09:42:29

    I once got three interviews for a cashier position. I did not get the job.

    Reply

  7. Robin
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 06:04:54

    We had performed multiple interviews in a company I worked for in the past. We were looking for people who held a shared core value system with our company. It was important to have a few of our key leaders interview and yes, ask some of the same questions. We looked for consistency and truthfulness in their answers and behaviors. We performed “on the floor” interviews to get reaction and promote their asking questions about the jobs and tasks they were experiencing. We also introduced them to and held conversations with our current employees. The relaxed interview usually brings all the “guards” down for the applicant and you get a more open picture of who they are without all the barriers in place. We didn’t always get it right but then who does!
    Don’t forget the employer is looking for the best fit for their workplace and they want to be sure it is you …the hiring process is costly and a poor choice is money lost! Business is business after all!

    Reply

  8. Landa Anthony
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 10:50:32

    Dear Anita,

    I was looking job applys and any open job or clerical job either I really want have job than left home alone and matter day or grave time hours time too and I have been 6 years unemployeed and because I did often applys online and not heard you answer. I did not know kind online question or talks you from Anita Clew is responible not much understand you asking me those online interview job or others, I honest sorry that why I am looking a jobs much I need life to doing different experience and skills matter I want open repect follow jobs has vaccant or full is matter just contact answer appt interview jobs information me!

    Reply

    • m.capriola
      Jan 30, 2012 @ 10:02:46

      Right off the bat I can see one problem you face — poor communication. Your English is, unfortunately, not up to par. Your assets may be overlooked by prospective employers if they cannot communicate with you! But this is something you can work on, and the more you practice the more you will improve. I’ve seen other people face this challenge and overcome it. Good luck!

      Reply

  9. Gertrude
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 10:44:35

    Interviews are a weak area for me. I know I lack self confidence. What is the key to impressing your interveiwer? Any tips would be greatly appreciated

    Reply

    • anitaclew
      Jan 25, 2012 @ 08:15:02

      Hi There,
      You’ll find all sorts of interview tips and suggestions as you read through my blog (within the search field that appears toward the top right of the page, type “interview” and all related posts will pop up)! From researching the company and practicing common interview questions, to asking the right questions and sending a post-interview thank-you note… I think you’ll find a wealth of information.
      Interviews tend to make me nervous too, but with a little practice and preparation… you’ll knock their socks off!
      Happy reading!
      Anita

      Reply

  10. Vincent Rodriguez
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 10:24:25

    My prblem in interviews is I prepare myself to be very confident about myself.I ended up with a job I could not do.Meaning I was expected to do the job without training.After 3 days work they let me go although my boss told me I was doing good.My final thought is to keep doing my best.

    Reply

    • ron
      Feb 03, 2012 @ 19:08:45

      Hey Vincent Rodriguez,
      I read your letter, it was interested to me. I was out of a job for over two years. I applied for an agency. I was happy when they call me. Got their on time, meet with the manager. They made me feel good. I started my training and for three days. And they like my work. They told me, they will have my own work place. So next week, I would be on my own. I was happy. But on the third day of work, I was out of work going home. I get this phone call. The agency told me that my service are no longer need. I was surprise about it. So I ask question but the agency could not give it me clear. But I do not give up and still looking for a job. But I felt that I was the only person going through this. But reading your letter it give me a smile.

      Reply

    • m.capriola
      Feb 08, 2012 @ 12:48:01

      That company is going to have a hard time filling a post they will not train someone to do. A lot of firms these days will only hire experienced people, because if you learned how to flip burgers at Wendy’s you should be able to do the same for McDonald’s or Burger King with little or no training. You have then become a cog in the franchise machinery, interchangable with any other cog.

      Keep looking. There’s got to be something better out there.

      Reply

  11. Natalio Roldan Jr.
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 10:18:53

    The reason for a lot of interviews is the fact that employers are looking for the best talented, knowledgeable and young candidates.I have the knowledge,experience,and interpersonal skills to qualify for a position in high technology. I discovered the fact is that companies are looking for good credit,age,and background that will impede the 55+ year old candidates that have been looking for work for 3 years like myself. This is what is causing the high unemp[loyment today,also I dont want to retire early since my 401K and savings are almost medicore to retire. And I feel better than those younger age employees with fantastic self esteem and health.I remember strting as a Field Service Engineer at 22!…Strted becominig a Technician at age 12! In Radio & TV Servicing. I need my career position back so I can continue my certifiction in Network Management and go back to my home!…..

    Reply

    • ALEJANDRO FELIX aka EL MISTI
      Apr 17, 2013 @ 09:51:52

      ya esta pues. you will be hearing5 from me shortly i h6ave your business card and i was recommended by a special lady.

      fierro parriente.
      EL MISTI

      Reply

  12. Susan
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 09:37:40

    I’ve been to multiple interviews and the final decision came down to asking the 2 of us to write a page about something we believed would be pertinent to the position.
    I’m sure the other candidate had been tacitly tipped off that was going to happen and wrote to the issue the department was currently addressing. I’d written to what I knew the department needed to address. I’ve also submitted a resume, cover letter and letter of recommendation to a local department (that clearly lacked in some crucial areas that still haven’t been addressed) that got outed for illegal hiring practices but nothing happened to change it other than a note in the county commissioner’s weekly meeting notes. I look at multiple interviews as an opportunity to practice public speaking skills and to brush up on my personal
    presentation personna.

    Reply

  13. Paul
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 09:21:45

    I was interviewed a year a go for a part-time managers position. I was through testing ( a couple hours) an intitial interview, was called back for an interview with the H.R. director. Then went back for a team interview and in the middle of that interview was told it would be a full time position. Since I have other business and family interests, I was not interested in full time employment. So in all I ended up spending almost 8 hours and driving 90 miles for a position that I didn’t want. It would be nice if companies would ask for what they really want.

    Reply

  14. Nancy Jo Perdue
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 09:19:26

    When I was being considered for a different position within a large organization where I had been onboard for five years, three internal candidates were interviewed twice. During the second interview, one of the panelists – who also was my supervisor at the time – actually asked me if it was OK for her to contact my current supervisor. This struck me as funny since in essence I was being asked if it was OK for her to contact herself. Of course, I laughed. Later, when I didn’t get the position, I was told it was because I didn’t take the interview seriously or I would have provided information regarding my current supervisor. I asked why she needed to ask that since she was my boss. I was told that these questions get asked because HR types “have to be fair.” I get the fairness aspect. But HR officials need to be realize the candidate’s time is also valuable.

    Still, I’ve had other interviews where the HR people actually tore up their standardized questions and simply asked me about me and showed a sincere interest in considering me to fill a position.

    I say just go prepared and be yourself. If it’s right, you’ll get the job. If you’re qualified and don’t get the job, you might get told you are not a good fit for the company. You probably won’t be told the company isn’t a good fit for you, but that might be also be the case. So don’t beat yourself or question your worth, just move on. .

    Reply

    • m.capriola
      Jan 30, 2012 @ 10:09:04

      The anecdote about the interviewer needing permission to contact herself unfortunately reminds me of the woman who kept getting a computerized bill for $0.00. When the computer’s threats began to escalate, the woman solved the problem by cutting a check for $0.00.

      When machines do this kind of thing it can be frustrating and amusing.
      When people do this kind of thing it’s just bureaucratic idiocy. And the fact that you don’t take the idiocy seriously tells me that something is seriously wrong with that company.

      Reply

  15. Manage Better Now
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 08:09:21

    When I interviewed for my current position, I flew in and went through eight interviews (it was a very long day).
    Multiple interviews can also stem from a lack of confidence. Some managers want someone else to share in the blame if they make a bad hire. You will never know 100% whether an applicant will work out or not, regardless of how many interviews you conduct. Have confidence and go with your gut.

    Reply

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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