For job candidates, time can feel like it is ebbing away

As a hiring manager, does it feel like you never stop interviewing? As a candidate, does it feel like interviewing never ends? What is the normal amount of candidates to take through to interview stage and how many interviews does it take to know which candidate is the right one?

Those in recruiting circles rarely talk about these topics as they are considered a standard part of the business of recruitment. Typically, 6-10 people are brought through to interview and those who are, should expect to face 2-3 rounds of interview but it can lead to 5 or more.

If can be disheartening when, as a candidate, you find out about another round of interviews, after you aced the first and second. It is even worse when, after jumping through all of those hoops, it all ends in rejection, especially when you felt that you dazzled them and answered every question.

The major confusion comes when a candidate imagines the path to a job. Their imagined path will probably contain seven steps from searching for the job vacancy to sending resume and cover letter to the invite to the interview to accepting the offer to starting work. In reality, there are many more steps in the process and when facing ten or more steps, the candidate can start to lose hope. This is amplified exponentially if the process goes on for over a month.

Thanks to a glut of CVs being sent in for jobs on online recruiting platforms and an explosion in the number or generalist recruiters, there now requires more of a ‘whittling down’ of the prospects. So, weirdly, it is no walk in the park for the hiring manager either.

Recently, with the Covid-19 crisis, more managers have been exposed to video interviewing, so now, in addition to the first phone interview, there are now multiple rounds of video interviews, made easier by services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. In the past, there were people who were difficult to wrangle into the same location, but now they can join from anywhere with an internet connection. It feels though, that because the interviews are not face-to-face, that sometimes hiring managers might feel more hesitant to say yes to a candidate, which leads to more rounds, just to make sure. In large firms, the decision may not just be up to one individual so the hiring pipeline is blocked further.

Due to the internet, and the ease in which people can apply for jobs or can be headhunted, the prospects can be snapped up for other roles before HR can say ‘second interview’, which throws more uncertainty into the mix.

Some hiring managers are now moving away from the rigidity of the 6-10 rule and are arranging to interview candidates they are interested in as soon as they see a resume that catches their eye. This is down to both the fact that video interviews make things easier to arrange, and also, due to the fact that they are desperate to fill positions, especially when it comes to Cloud, Data and AI. They will then likely park the candidate they like until other candidates crop up, then they compare. This can be excruciating for the candidate who genuinely made a great impression. The problem is that they may fade in the memory of the interviewer over that time.

With an average of 250 applicants for every job, managers need to thin the herd. First they either look through, or use software to sift through, the CVs. Then come the phone interviews to thin it even further, with managers looking for tell-tale signs in a not-so-formal setting. Perhaps the candidate trips up over what is on their resume. If you are in the top 2-3% who actually make it through to the next interview, that means you have a good chance of getting the job.

Other factors can affect whether you actually get that job, of course, including cultural fit, primary traits the managers think will work within the role, salary etc.

To answer the question whether companies are wasting candidates’ time, there is no answer other than how the candidate feels. There are reasons behind the long-drawn-out process, yet some recruiters are changing with the old ways and the future is looking brighter for both candidates and hiring managers.

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