Forcing job applicants through lots of interviews? You're wasting your time

Colette Sexton on why it is time to streamline your recruitment processes if you're struggling to employ new people.

We’ve all heard stories from friends or family members who have been dragged through round after round of interviews for a job. It can be incredibly frustrating for all involved, but over the past few years, it has become increasingly more common for interview processes to be dragged out.

The length of time it takes to screen and hire new employees has increased to an average of 23 days, up from just 13 days in 2010, according to recruitment platform Glassdoor, based on a study of nearly 350,000 interview reviews by the site’s users. Now, the interview process often includes multiple interviews with managers, owners, potential co-workers, group interviews with other candidates as well as tasks such as personality tests and job-related exercises. This all takes a lot of time. Phone screenings can take 6.8 to 8.2 additional days, on average, according to Glassdoor, while panel interviews add 5.6 to 6.8 days to the process.

The right fit


With all of that extra work going into hiring these days, it must mean companies are making the right decisions constantly, right? Wrong. It turns out that long recruitment processes are not more effective. In fact, four rounds of interviews is the ideal number to reach optimum efficiency in the workplace and achieve the best outcomes during the recruitment process, according to Maureen Lynch, director at Hays Ireland.

One company that has nailed down the perfect recruitment process is Google, according to Maureen.

She said: “Previously, Google had a very long recruitment process, potentially up to a dozen stages before they went to offer. This took a massive amount of employee time and also could make for a drawn-out candidate experience.” The tech giant found out that there was actually a diminishing return on interviewer feedback for longer processes. Based on their statistical analysis, the team at Google found that four interviews were enough to predict whether someone should be hired with 86 per cent confidence. 

Maureen said: “After the fourth interviewer, the increase in accuracy dropped off dramatically. With each additional interview, the accuracy of the interview score’s ability to predict a hire/no hire decision increased less than one per cent.”

Google’s research also found that having four people on an interview panel made very similar hiring decisions to panels with more interviewers. Other research from the UK’s Behavioural Insights Team backs up the Google theory. They recommend having at least three reviewers for each candidate. 

At the moment, companies are finding it extremely difficult to hire as there are many jobs available. Dragging out a recruitment process for too long could mean that you lose out on the right candidate. It can also send a negative message to applicants that your company is slow to make decisions, it is not organised enough to ask the important questions when it has the opportunity to do so or that they as a candidate hasn’t impressed you. It also wastes company resources by having employees spending their time interviewing instead of doing their jobs. None of these scenarios are ideal. If your company puts people through ten or 12 rounds of interviews, it is time to review the recruitment process, for everyone’s sake. 

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