4 Rounds of Interviews? It Shows How Screwed Up Your Hiring Process Is

Nov 14, 2013

I had a client recently that was undecided about a candidate after the fourth (4th) round interview.

They were thinking that maybe a fifth round would make the difference. I told them that it wouldn’t. In fact, it was a mistake to allow them to get to four.

Do you know what the fourth round interview says about your hiring process?

It says that your process is broken.

No one needs four rounds of interviews to decide if a candidate is the right candidate for your organization. A fifth round, or any number higher, is just adding insult to injury.

Too many rounds, too much second tier talent

Here’s what anything beyond the third round interview says to your candidate:

  • Hey, come work for us so we can totally frustrate you with our indecision culture.
  • We need more interviews because we don’t have our shit together, but please don’t notice that.”
  • “You are so mediocre that we just can’t decide if we should pass on you or hire you.”
  • I bet you can’t wait to come aboard and be a part of this process in the future!”
  • We like to wear down candidates to see who ‘really’ wants our job!”

Organizations that can’t figure this out are always interviewing second tier talent.

How the interview process should go

Organizations that are talent attractors have determined that less is more.

They have a concise process. They move quickly. They get it right more than they get it wrong. If we get they do get it wrong, they don’t take long to make the correction.

The reality is that 99 percent of your interviews should never need to go beyond three interviews. It looks like this:

  • First round – This is your pre-employment screening/assessments and phone interview. Perfect placement for video screening tool (HireVue, WePow, etc.).
  • Second round – Face-to-face with hiring manager and any other key stakeholders (i.e., people this person might be asked to support from other functions).
  • Third round (if needed) — Face-to-face or video phone (Skype-type) interview. Executive sign off. Really only needed if your line executive doesn’t have faith in the hiring manager.

Less info the longer you go

More interviews after this point yield negligible additional information, and, actually might be a detriment to your hiring decision.

Why? Here’s what happens after you talk about someone for so long — they turn into a piece of crap!

This is normal human and organizational behavior, by the way. We start out talking about all the good qualities and experiences the person has and how they can help us.

Then we start searching for hickeys and no matter what, we will find them! Then we start talking about what’s wrong with the person, and before you know it, that great candidate, they become a piece of garbage and not good enough for your organization.

When you let it go on too long

But they’re not really garbage. They’re still the really good person you initially interviewed. You just let it go too long and discovered they have opportunities and we don’t want to hire anyone with “opportunities” — we want perfect.

This is what happens after round three of interviews in almost every organization I’ve ever witnessed (and some went to four, five, six, or more rounds). It might be the biggest misconception of candidates, who feel the longer they go in the interview process, the better the chance for an offer.

It’s untrue! If you don’t get an offer after the third round, your percentages of getting an offer falls exponentially for every round after that!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

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