how many interviews are too many?

A reader writes:

I applied for a job that I thought I’d be a good fit for. I clicked with the external recruiter immediately, and he said he wanted to introduce me to on-site recruiter at the client. When I met the second guy, he said he would definitely like to introduce me to the owner/director of the business. I met with the owner/director, and we talked for over an hour.

Then the first recruiter got back in touch and said that she would like to hear me explain what I can offer the company and how my skills can help move it forward. I decided to compile notes on all areas… sales, communication, people, costs, then round off with talking through the words people have used to describe me in feedback I’ve had throughout my career. I thought we had covered this already and in detail.

I did yet another interview this morning. At the end they said, “We’ll get back to you on Monday, we think. We might need candidates at this stage to complete a personality test. We’ve hired badly in the past and we don’t want to make mistakes again.”

Meanwhile I’m thinking, “This is the fourth interview I’ve had regarding this. I’ve been very open and honest and I think I’ve given a full picture of who I am and what I can do.”

They kept talking about avoiding a bad fit, but as far as I was concerned I had decided I really wanted to work for them after interview #3 and told them that. So I guess my quandary is… getting a second interview is a signal that they’re really interested, and getting a third one should be even more positive, right? But a fourth or a fifth? I just do not know what to make of this; my head is buzzing.

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 93 comments… read them below }

  1. paul*

    what level of position is the interview for? And are they covering any new ground in the interviews or are they nearly identical?

  2. Parenthetically*

    Wow, how terrible must the person you’re replacing have been? Sounds to me like they’ve been really badly burned and are going way overboard, but I agree that this is getting to be pretty disrespectful of your time regardless of their reasons.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Especially because they can do all the interviews they want and it still won’t give them a clue if they will be burned. They need to know the correct questions to ask, which a candidate may still be able to dance around. As Alison has said before, thorough reference checking is one of the beat ways to ensure a good hire.

  3. Anonymous Educator*

    Yeah, unfortunately, this isn’t wildly abnormal. I know someone recently who was job searching, and the place that hired her asked her to come in three separate times (one was a full-day visit) and also had three separate phone conversations. She ended up getting the job and taking it, but that process is definitely… less than ideal. Particularly in the tech industry, I have a bunch of friends who’ve been through extremely long, drawn-out processes. It’s not necessarily indicative of a horrible place to work, but it definitely is, as Alison says, indicative of a poorly put-together hiring process.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I had two, for an admin job at a tech company (my last job). One, a very in-depth phone interview because my actual boss was out of state. Two, a face-to-face with the team with whom I would work most closely (two consultants). That was it. I was most impressed by the fact that they weren’t duplicate interviews–the boss asked me things the team didn’t and vice-versa.

      This really sounds like bad communication between those involved in the hiring process. It may or may not indicate poor internal contact in the company overall, but it’s definitely a flag. If an OP in this situation did decide to do another interview, I would ask questions about their communication process within the company. How well departments share information, etc.

  4. Bend & Snap*

    I’m still bitter about my 11 interviews + text rejection with no feedback at all about why I wasn’t hired.

    There comes a point where you have to decide whether you’re willing to risk investing more of your time for a potential no, or if your time is more valuable than the process.

      1. Tired......*

        I’ve had about 11. It’s annoying. I see more companies taking this approach. Is it a cost-effective way to avoid background checks?

    1. Audiophile*

      I think I would have exited after interview 4. That’s beyond.

      I don’t mind 2 or 3, but after that, it seems excessive. Unless the job is to be CEO or President or VP, anything beyond 3 feels excessive. But most of my jobs have only involved 1 interview, occasionally 2.

  5. Wendy Darling*

    I recently had a similar experience with a company. I was contacted by an external recruiter who talked to me for about 30 minutes on the phone about the (midlevel, individual contributor) position and then met me for coffee for 45 minutes to discuss my background before passing me on to the company’s internal recruiter, who also talked to me for 45 minutes by phone and then gave me a personality quiz and a 90-minute timed assessment. He told me that if they moved forward after the assessment I would have a 45-minute phone interview with the hiring manager, then a 5-6 hour interview loop, then possibly a 45-60 minute interview with a senior VP before they made an offer.

    They decided not to move forward after the assessment. I was disappointed… but also relieved because good lord, if I got an offer it would have been after 10+ hours of assessments and interviews over multiple weeks.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      But at least they warned you about it, and did the assessment at the 2nd interview.

      This OP had already done 4 interviews, and they were just getting to the personality test in the next one, and are only giving her information about the next step- and none beyond.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yeah, the warning part is key. It always feels better if the employer gives you some sense of their process. Google, for example, is pretty up front that for some positions they have a particularly lengthy and onerous interview process, but at least you know the situation going into it.

  6. Just passing by*

    Personal experience stories time!

    How many interviews have you had for your current role or the role you’re looking to move into next?

    Normal for me has been email contact from a recruiter, phone screen with HR, phone with the hiring manager, then 4-hour in-person with the hiring manager, the department head/company head (depending on how big the company is), and key members of other teams I’d be interacting with on a day-to-day basis. This is for product marketing in video games.

    Outliers have been a phone call with the hiring manager and an in-person of less than 2 hours (ending in a job offer same day!) on the short side and several email exchanges, an hour-long phone screen with the hiring manager, a full day of in-person interviews (seriously: 8 hours), and a follow-up phone interview.

    1. De Minimis*

      Current job: Only one panel interview [with six people] and then an informal meeting with the executive director which was just working out details of the offer. We don’t currently do multiple interviews or even phone screening.

      The most elaborate hiring process I’ve dealt with—initial off-site interview with a higher-up, then invited to the office to have two more interviews with upper level people. However, I had to meet with several other people informally at meals and events, and I know that everyone I met was able to give input on what they thought. Still not that bad.

      The OP’s process sounds like a mess…too many recruiters involved, and then a personality test which seems very inappropriate for this type of position.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        My experience with my current job is almost identical – one panel interview with many people and then one meeting to work out details. Two to three interviews is the norm here, though. I was an exception because I had a strong recommendation from the person I was replacing and a slight acquaintance with the CEO so I got to skip the early interview rounds.

    2. LBK*

      For my current role, I skipped the phone screen because I was internal, but I met with my potential manager and his manager (separate interviews). We’ve buffed up the process since I was hired so I now also interview candidates (for people who would be my coworker) in addition to them meeting with my manager and his manager.

    3. Amber Rose*

      The most interviews I ever had came from a seasonal job at a warehouse. There were three, but each took about 15 minutes, they were all done one after the other, and I got a job offer immediately after completion. Pretty typical for retail.

      Every job I’ve had since moving out of retail-type work consisted of a single interview, usually about an hour long. I’ve never worked with a recruiter though. I mostly have worked in very small companies.

    4. Red Reader*

      Current job: One panel of four (one of whom was my then-boss – this was an internal promotion) and one 1:1 with a director.
      Previous job: One five-minute phone chat with the manager.
      Previous previous job: a 20 minute phone chat with a recruiter (who I never actually met in person).
      Before that: I had been working in the job as a temp for six months, so I had an interview with the manager, but it was a formality.

      And that’s all the jobs I’ve had in my actual career field … I’ve been remarkably lucky in the last 12 years.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Current job: One recruiter phone interview, a single on-site with my future co-workers, and then a job offer phone call from my boss. Fairly painless.

    6. Antilles*

      Current role was 3 – a short phone screen with the recruiter, a short phone screen with the company, then a couple hours at the office. In the several years I’ve worked here, we’ve only had a couple hires really fail out, so it seems to be working just fine.
      My previous role was a 30-minute phone screen, then a full 8-hour day of interviews including a lunch presentation. Which was a little excessive, but it was my first job out of college (i.e., minimal on-point work history) and it was all the way across the country, so presumably they wanted to get their money’s worth after paying for my flight, rental car, and three days in a hotel.

    7. Kyrielle*

      My experience for my current role matches your “normal” only replacing the four-hour in-person with one with most of my potential team mates, one at a time, so they could provide additional context/feedback to the hiring manager. (Hiring manager was in another state.)

    8. Beancounter Eric*

      Current job – phone interview with parent company HR, phone interview with Division head followed with an in-person interview that same day. Offer made day or two later.

      Most drawn out was job before this one – not number of interviews, but time – interview with recruiter, week later with firm HR/Dir. of Finance, month or so later with Managing Partner.

    9. Blue Anne*

      Current job was a quick phone discussion with the senior partner, a panel interview with all three partners in the firm (maybe an hour), and then coming back to meet with the three of them again for about half an hour where they made an offer and answered questions. Totally reasonable.

      Biggest previous job was online application, three online assessments (pretty demanding math and legalese ones and an easy psychometric one), a phone interview, an all-day assessment which they shipped me down to London for, and then an interview with a partner in the location I’d be working. It was very demanding but getting a place with that firm was very competitive.

    10. babblemouth*

      One 45 minutes skype session, followed a week later by a face to face interview with a group of 6 people, during which I presented a practical case. That one lasted 1 hour. Additionally I did a personality test of some kind that never seemed to have any point.

    11. CatCat*

      All government legal jobs:

      Current Job: 1 hour writing exercise + 1 hour first interview. 1 hour second interview.
      Last job: 30 min writing exercise + 1 hour interview. 30-ish min second interview. (This was an internal transfer. Second interview was kind of perfunctory.)
      Job before that: 1 hour phone first interview. 1 hour Skype second interview. 1 hour in-person third interview. (The third interview was kind of perfunctory and they already had an offer drawn up to give to me. I think it was just an in-person, make sure the candidate is not a creeper check.)
      Job before that: 1 hour phone interview. (I think this was unusual.)

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Admin work–usually after one interview, maybe two. I’ve only had two happen once, for my most recent job.

      I don’t know what it will be like when I get out of this line of work. Or if I ever will! :P But I would expect a more intensive process for high-proficiency work.

    13. Jesmlet*

      Current job: impromptu 5 minute phone screen with the hiring manager (small company) then 4 in-person interviews each about 1 hour long – hiring manager/would-be boss, owner of company, lunch with boss and owner, then different boss as they decided I would be more needed for a different location. It would’ve been 3 had that switch not been made (and thank god it was). Never felt jerked around or anything by them and nothing felt superfluous.

    14. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      Current Job: Phone screen by HR, Single 1-hour interview with Hiring Manager. Offer from HR. I also knew the HM slightly as we attended the same graduate program and TA’d a class together years ago, though she was several cohorts above me so we didn’t interact closely in grad school. It seemed very odd to me now though that she was the only person I met during the interview process.

      Previous Job: No phone screen. 4+ hours of several rounds of interviews in a single afternoon. Met with most of the team I worked with, the hiring manager, project managers, and a VP. Would have also met with CEO but he was travelling that day. No one warned me that I’d be meeting with people for so long! Then I was told they were waiting on funding for the position…got an offer 4 months after my interview!

    15. chocoholic*

      My current role: phone interview with my current boss, in person interview with my boss and a VP that I work closely with. Next in-person interview was a “fit” interview with a set group of people and our president. One more phone interview with a program manager who was not in the fit interview. :)

      Position before this: Phone interview with HR, in-person interview with my boss and HR, short follow up phone call with HR that also contained the offer.

    16. Ramona Flowers*

      Mid-level role in a non-profit. I had one panel interview and that was it. But I’m in the UK where 1-2 interviews is the norm. I’ve only had phone screens if external recruiters are involved.

    17. BF50*

      For my current position, a short conversation with an internal recruiter followed by a scheduled phone screen with her that was about 30 minutes. Then a half day of interviews including in the office, including 5-10 minute one with the recruiter that included a personality/intelligence/problem solving test, a 30 minute panel with the team and then individual interviews with my manager and my manager’s manager. All told i was here for several hours.

      I imagine it would have been more painful if someone hadn’t been available that day, if I couldn’t book a whole half day off, or if they wanted to have internal discussions after each interview. Since my other job was rather far away, they may have bunched that all together to accommodate me.

      So plenty of interviews, but it was well organized and part of an established process, instead of haphazard like the LW’s experience.

    18. CherryScary*

      Current role: 4 interviews – one phone call with a recruiter (internal), two interviews with supervisors (I was being looked at for two similar positions – each supervisor met with me), and one with my department head.

    19. Kowalski! Options!*

      I came into my current job as an intern (albeit one who…er….had a fair number of years of experience before the opportunity came up!), so I only had one interview, which lasted just over an hour. The most drawn-out experience I had was about 20 years ago, with a company that did multimedia and CGI for the movie industry; that one was eight interviews over six weeks. I don’t remember if I pulled the plug or if it was the recruiter who did it, but at some point, one of us basically said, “If they don’t know at this point, there’s a good chance that they’re never going to figure it out.” Luckily the interviews were at an office four blocks from where I was working (temping) at the time, so travel time wasn’t an issue.

    20. CanuckDoughnut*

      Current job: 1 x 20 min panel interview in home city + 2 afternoons in the office that involved 3 rounds of one-hour panel interviews and a dinner.

    21. Sled dog mama*

      Do you count the year long internship with a company that hired me at the end of it as an interview?

      Current position I had three 10-20 minute phone interviews, because the three people couldn’t coordinate to get in the same place or on a conference call. Then an all day (8+) hour interview across two sites where I met and talked with every single person (small staff) and got an offer a week later.

      Another interview was fairly similar only one phone screen but multiple people on it.

      Previous position was a little different. I had actually been laid off from the company (two weeks before hubs and I were going on vacation so we went anyway) and they called me while on vacation to say they were bidding on another contract and could they submit my resume as the person they would hire to fill the contract if they won it? So no real interview for that one and the job I was laid off from was offered in similar “hey we know you and your work and have this position open, you interested?” way.

      It has just occurred to me why I am not comfortable in interviews, this position is the first one I’ve really had to interview for…

    22. Stanton von Waldorf*

      For my current gig, I had one interview with the owner of the company that maybe was fifteen minutes long.

      Average would be one interview with one to three people that lasted about an hour. I’ll do two interviews, and if you can’t figure out in that time whether you want to hire me I’ll save you the trouble and say no for you. This worked well for me in the past. I once passed on a third interview and told them not only why but that I didn’t like having my time wasted. The owner called the next day with a fairly generous job offer.

    23. S-Mart*

      Current role: phone screen with grand-boss; two panel interviews (4 people each, back to back same day, included hiring manager, an adjacent manager, the CEO, and coworkers but did not include grand-boss); follow-up phone screen to answer some questions that came up when the two panels compared notes. I was recruited for this job by the grand-boss, who knew me from multiple previous companies, which is why the initial contact was through him.

      Almost every other position I’ve had (or applied for and either not taken or chosen not to take): Zero or One phone screens with either recruiter or hiring manager; one in-person interview with hiring manager and up to 3 other people – but usually just the hiring manager.

      The one exception: Two phone screens with the same recruiter; four or five back-to-back in person interviews with individual managers (hiring manager and various adjacent ones); followed by at least three separate offer phone calls, despite me rejecting the job outright the first time. This was the time I didn’t try to negotiate and they kept trying to throw more money at me. I suppose there’s a number that would have gotten me to work with them, but it was nowhere near what they were offering (which was fair to generous for the role, I just had serious reservations about two of the managers, including the hiring manager – and I had other options).

    24. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Current job: informational lunch meeting with owner; formal interview with owner (about 90 minutes); project I did at home (about 4 hours over the course of a week); presentation to owner and senior staff (about 2 hours). I thought that was pretty normal.

      Last job: Skype call with administrator; lunch interview with hiring manager; Skype interview with partner. Writing exercise that took me about 2 hours.

      Longest/weirdest process: phone screen with internal recruiter; phone interview with hiring manager; interviews with two heads of sales (1 hour each, back-to-back); flown out to LA for five interviews with different people in the department, plus lunch with the hiring manager. I didn’t get that job.

    25. LizB*

      My department does a 10-20 minute phone screen with the hiring manager, a hour-long in-person interview with the manager and a peer, then an hour-long second round interview with higher ups in the department. I was an internal candidate for my current job, so I skipped the phone screen but did the two in-person interviews.

    26. LadyKelvin*

      Current Job: 1 45-min (if that) phone interview with my supervisor and fed sponsor. That was pretty much par for course for most of the jobs I was interviewing at. Sometimes they were skype instead of phone, and twice they were in person but only because I happened to be in the same city as them. I think there were 2 that had second interviews, one by skype the other in the town I was in, but I was not asked back. To be fair, I was applying for a job that was well below my qualifications but still in my field, and they were rightly concerned that I’d jump ship as soon as I got something better. But in my defense, I was willing to stay a year or so to get my foot in the door and network before finding something better, I just needed an income, preferably in my field.

    27. Koko*

      Current Job: First, the usual phone screen with HR to check basic qualifications, salary requirement, start date, etc. Then came in for back-to-back 45 minute in-person interviews with the hiring manager and then the would-be grandboss. Brought back in a week or two later for 4 30-minute meetings with others in the department who I’d be working closely with on a regular basis, with people in similar roles interviewing me as a group. Offer a week or two after that.

      Since being hired here, I’ve learned that we only bring people in for a second round when the HM is prepared to make an offer to barring any unpleasant surprises. I’ve only rarely done a second round for more than one candidate for a position. The purpose of the meetings is to check for fit with the larger team and let the candidate see that we’re all happy and love working here so they’ll be more likely to accept the offer when it comes. And I guess, just to increase the total observations of a candidate just to make sure day 1 or interview 1 wasn’t a fluke.

    28. Dankar*

      Current job:
      1 Skype interview with a panel
      1 Phone interview with boss’ boss
      Additional call to discuss salary (unusual, I know, but it was well below what I was asking at the time)
      2-day on-campus interview that included a tour, class presentation (a normal part of my now-job), dinner and lunch meetings, a 15 minute meeting with grandboss, and probably something else I don’t remember since my days started at 7am and ended at 10pm

    29. NotTheSecretary*

      I did one phone screen and two in-person interviews for my current position. The second in-person was basically the same as the first but included a key person in the decision making process along with some exposure to my slightly unusual on-site work environment. My now-supervisor made it pretty clear that the second interview was the decision-making interview and definitely made sure that I understood how much she appreciated me making the time to come to it since I was mid-relocation and the interview included a nice 2.5 hour drive for me.

      The most I ever did was five for a job that I did not get in an education setting. One phone screen, one panel interview, one interview with the person who would have been my supervisor and with the person leaving the role, one “informational interview” alone with the supervisor, and one interview with the Dean of the area I would be working in. The feedback I got on that one was that I “looked too young” to do the job. They thought I could definitely do it, they were vocally impressed with my professionalism, but also thought I just looked too young. So there’s that bullet dodged!

        1. NotTheSecretary*

          It was really strange feedback. I understood their concern as the job was in retention for nontraditional students – most of whom would have been my age at the time (26) or older – but it felt like the most useless feedback they could offer. I couldn’t do much more to make myself look older. It was down to the final two candidates and it took a long time for them to choose between us. I really would have preferred hearing that the other candidate was just stronger. At least then it would be a matter of job qualification and not just my appearance.

    30. RulingWalnut*

      Call with recruiter, technical call, technical call, then got flown on-site. Four in-person interviews that day and then a call with the VP a day later.

      So 8 interviews, 4 remote and 4 in-person for an associate (but technical) position.

    31. Thomas W*

      5. (1, recruiter. 2, video chat with experienced peer. 3, in-person with hiring manager. 4, video chat with hiring manager’s peer. 5, video chat with hiring manager’s boss.) This is for a mid-career, non-managerial position. It’s by far the most interviews I’ve ever had for a job; I don’t recall ever having more than 2.

    32. marmalade*

      Mine was several steps.
      1. Online code challenge (~1h)
      2. In person panel interview (~1h)
      3. Pair programming exercise (~1.5h)
      4. Coffee with the Big Boss (who’d been away during the rest of the process.
      Curious to hear from other developers what their process was like!

    33. Lablizard*

      My current job was 100% abnormal. The hiring manager (who I knew professionally) called me and asked if I was interested in the position. I was and sent my resume. They hired me with no interview. In this case, the grand boss was a former grand boss twice removed and already knew me.

    34. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      My experience has usually been 2-3, but for my current role, I had one interview, and then did some consulting work for after that – which I kind of view as an extension of an interview, even though it was paid. Then I was hired on as an employee.

    35. Can't Think of a Good Fake Name*

      Current job: phone interview with hiring manager, 2 hour in-person with hiring manager and hiring manager’s boss, 2 phone interviews with important senior colleagues (different department, lots of cross-departmental collaboration), a webinar presentation with attendees from many different departments, and a final follow up session with the hiring manager.

      This was an internal process, and with my inside knowledge of the company culture/the role it all made perfect sense to me, but reflecting now, it must have seemed crazy to external candidates to have what were essentially 6 or 7 interviews!

    36. Is it Friday Yet?*

      For my current role, I only had one interview. They brought me in the next day and offered me the job. I was a little caught off guard. They’re a small company, and they admittedly like to make quick decisions when it comes to hiring. I’ve seen it happen with other employees, and it didn’t work out so well… Turnover is above average. I’d recommend at least two interviews.

    37. Rookie Manager*

      Pretty much all my professional jobs have been one interview of around 1 hour. Once I had two 1 hour interviews for a post.

      I’m a bit overwhelmed by the number of interviews some employers use and don’treally see the need for so many stages.

    38. De Minimis*

      Oh, and for my previous federal job—one phone interview with my eventual supervisor. HR called with a tentative job offer the next day. My federal job had the least involved interview process [the headaches came with HR/onboarding, after I’d already started.]

    39. Recovering Adjunct*

      Current job: None. A friend knew I had the creative skills her team needed and called with an offer. I was very lucky.
      Previous job: Long application process with writing samples, a phone interview and then a week-long “virtual classroom” assignment before being hired to teach online classes.
      Job before that: One interview with dept. dean and another instructor and I was offered the job later that day. The bar to adjuncting isn’t very high in some places.

      My partner just went through an intense interview process. Applied through Indeed (without a cover letter), had a 30 minute phone screen, was given a test assignment (they recommended two hours and he respected that limit), then they had him in in for a 60 minute meeting with the hiring manager, had intense email back-and-forth with the hiring manager, was called back and invited for a half day interview where he did hours of skills testing mixed with interviews with stakeholders, more email back-and-forth, was offered the job a week later. All of this happened in a three-week span.

      It was head-spinning. This was for an upper-management position.

    40. TL -*

      My first two jobs, I was second choice for an interview and they hired me when a position opened up again (the first one, they reached out to me; the second one I reached out to them.) First was one phone screen and an interview, then touching base when a second position opened up. Second one was phone interview, reapply, second phone interview.

      Third (current) job was phone screen with HR (very simple; 5-10 minutes); interview with manager 1; after a few weeks, they decided it was a split position so I interviewed with second manager + met people in my group; met with professor for a third interview; talked with HR again somewhere in there and then finally got the offer 3 months after the first interview. But totally worth it (also academia, so there’s that.)

    41. turquoisecow*

      My current job I didn’t have to interview at all. It’s a temporary (6 month) position, and the hiring manager knew me from a previous job (where I did basically the same thing) at a company that went bankrupt. I did email back and forth with her a few times, and then talked to her briefly on the phone, but it was very informal: she contacted me about the job and didn’t need to be convinced I could do it well.

      Previous job: talked briefly with an HR person on the phone, then went in for a half-hour (maybe?) interview with the VP I’d be working under, and got a call a day or so later. The VP quit about a week after I started, maybe that’s why she was eager to hire me. I eventually decided the job wasn’t for me, and left after 4 months.

      Previous job to that: I was working in another division and went to a recruiting session, where I met briefly with an internal recruiter, who pointed me in the direction of a position. A few days later, I met with the hiring manager (who turned out to be the Grandboss) and talked with him for about a half-hour, maybe 45 minutes? That afternoon, I got a call from the HR recruiter asking when I could start. Also of note, the manager I ended up working for didn’t realize grandboss was hiring, never mind interviewing for the role. At 4:30 on a Friday, grandboss said to boss, “Oh, by the way, your new person starts Monday.” He later confessed to me that he probably wouldn’t have hired me based on my experience, and he would have been looking for someone different. I ended up staying in that job for 7.5 years, until the company itself went bankrupt.

      Bonus story: I interviewed for a job with a 2 hour long interview session, which I was told would be an hour. I did a grammar test, sat with 4 or 5 people to learn about their jobs, had a more formal interview session with the President, and also had another assessment on Microsoft Word. They offered me the job the next day. I was impressed but mildly concerned by the process (they were also interviewing 4 or 5 other candidates at the same time). I later learned that the reason they were so practiced was that they had a high turnover; I myself left after only a week.

    42. Cherith Ponsonby*

      Australian here.

      Current job (finance industry, medium company, contacted by headhunter): over three days I had an in-person chat with the recruiter, an online skills assessment, a 1-hour interview with the hiring manager and the person I was replacing (the only person in the company with this role), and a 1-hour interview with the hiring manager and his manager. Then radio silence for the next day and I was convinced I hadn’t got the job, until I got an offer the following morning. The recruiter did some haggling on my behalf over salary and hours, which was nice, because the company could totally have got me for about 20% less.

      Previous job (finance industry, multinational, I applied directly): phone screen with HR; 1-hour in-person screen with HR; 1-hour interview with hiring manager. This is more what I’d expect.

      Previous job (startup): very brief phone screen with hiring manager, then 1-hour in-person interview with two hiring managers and the tech lead. I say “two hiring managers” because I ended up with three bosses; two of them didn’t like me, and the third called me the wrong name on the phone when he made the offer. I should have run far away but I needed the money.

    43. lauren*

      Current job (first professional/non-retail job) I just had an in-person interview with the HR manager and got an offer I think a couple days later. They also have very high turnover and while I like my coworkers I really hate the environment I’m in. Currently trying to get out. So far in this job search I’ve had one job do an in-person interview with the two department supervisors (never received a word from them, and this was over a month ago), one job do a very quick in person interview and tell me they’d be calling people back for the second round (panel) (haven’t heard back yet, but interview was barely a week ago) and one do a more thorough in-person interview. I haven’t had to phone screen for anyone yet (I had to do it on prior job searches, and was rejected every time) which is good because I really do not come across great over the phone.

  7. Jaguar*

    It is worth noting (for employers and job seekers) that the more frustrating a hiring process it, the more people it’s going to eliminate from the top of a talent pool. If you already have a job, or you have other offers, or even if you just have confidence in your ability to gain employment, every extra barrier a company puts up is a disincentive to the applicant. Maybe the best possible hire available really wants the job and would be willing to interview five times over two weeks. But maybe they have a different offer and decide to drop out of consideration.

    What this means for employers is obvious. What this means for applicants is perhaps less obvious: if you already know the process of getting hired is absurdly skewed towards the employer like this, what confidence should you have that your coworkers are going to be the sorts of people that will make your job easier to do or help you push forward in your career?

    1. Blue Anne*

      If it’s a job I really want, I kind of love seeing that there’s a real PITA online application system and a bunch of hoops to jump through. The more of a hassle it is, the fewer applicants I’m competing against.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        But how much do you really want to work for a place with that many levels of red tape?

    2. Manders*

      This is an important point. I had an experience recently where I was offered a job and turned it down because the way the interview process was handled made the company look dysfunctional. Especially once you get past entry-level positions, the people you want to hire are also going to be evaluating you.

    3. Former Retail Manager*

      I could not agree more with your statement. I’m a Federal employee and the hiring process is notoriously rigid and drawn out. I, and many great co-workers, came on at a time when the economy was in the crapper so there was some good talent in my hiring pool. However, as the economy has improved, the truth of your first paragraph has become glaringly obvious. Our most recent round of hires (about 6 months ago) contained very few good hires. Most remaining hires are struggling and several have already left. The only people that are willing to go through the hiring process are people that really want the job (a very small percentage) or folks that don’t have a lot of other options, and thus nothing to lose by continuing to jump through our hoops. My personal opinion falls on the side of not caring for PITA hiring processes. If you can’t make a decision within 2 or 3 interview, at the very most, then you’re the problem, not the candidate.

  8. LBK*

    This sounds like a manager who got burned on their last hire, decided something needed to change in their hiring process but didn’t actually sit down and figure out a new plan. They just decided that they were going to keep interviewing and asking questions and trying to gauge “fit” until they felt 100% confident about hiring the next person, which is an impossible goal.

    If I’d decided I didn’t want the job anymore because of this process (which I probably wouldn’t if I had the option to walk away), I think I’d say, “At this point, I feel as though I’ve provided as clear a picture to you as I can about what I’d be like as an employee. If I haven’t been able to convince you that I’m the right fit yet, I don’t think there’s much else I can say that will. I think it’s best if we take this as a sign that it is not, in fact, a good fit, and I move on to another opportunity. Thanks for your time, and good luck with your search.”

    And I’d try my hardest not to sound sarcastic with the last line.

  9. Antilles*

    I think the sweet spot for typical circumstances is around 2-3 separate ‘interviews’, presuming that we’re counting ‘interviews’ with regards to trips to the office (e.g., meeting 3 different people over the course of a morning at their office only counts as one ‘interview’). It’s long enough to get a feel, but not so long that you’re not just wasting time.
    I’m always surprised when I hear about companies that have tons of interviews. I just can’t imagine you’re learning anything new beyond a certain point – unless the candidate got arrested by the feds in the intervening week or something similarly absurd, I can’t see what you’d glean from Interview #7 that would completely change your mind after the first 6. If anything, it might even be counter-productive by getting you into a “paralysis by data” situation where the most relevant information is getting drowned out in the flood of opinions/information from all sorts of people.

  10. HisGirlFriday*

    What concerns me is the order of interviews:
    1. External recruiter (OK, fine)
    2. Internal recruiter (OK, fine)
    3. Owner/director (OK, fine)
    4. External recruiter AGAIN — and this time she wants to know what OP can bring to the company? Shouldn’t that be what the Owner/Director determined in her interview?
    5. I can’t tell from the letter who this was with, but it sounds like more people from within the company.

    Interviewing should be basically a straight line, starting with screening by someone to assess basic fit, then progressively getting more winnowed down by the people that work with the position. It doesn’t make sense to go back to the external recruiter after having met with the director.

    1. Not Karen*

      Yeah, I don’t understand the “what I can offer the company” part in #4. What were they talking about for the first three interviews…?

      1. LBK*

        Same. If they hadn’t been able to glean that already they sound like pretty horrible interviewers.

  11. interviewing*

    I think 4 rounds of interviews would make sense if they’re with different people and/or discussing different things. Most of my interviews have been recruiter (internal or external) phone screen for ~30 minutes, hiring manager phone screen for 30-60 minutes, 2-3 hour on-site with hiring manager and relevant team members, ~2 hour on-site with adjacent departments I would interact with and a final sit-down with hiring manager at the end of that loop. In general, each interviewer asked me different types of questions about the skills most relevant to them, so I was only repeating about 20% of the information in each round of interviews. For a previous role, I did have to take a personality test. For an interview loop I just had, we had a “fit” conversation around how I work, my long-term goals, my motivation, what kind of manager I like, etc. etc., and I thought it was reasonable. If they basically just want to talk to you for hours on end to see if they like you, that’s ridiculous and not helpful. Most people know pretty quickly whether they like someone from a personality stand-point, and within a couple of conversations/prior work samples if you can do the job effectively.

  12. WaitingforMacaroni*

    I knew someone who had four interviews, for a very large cell phone company, including travelling to their corporate head office. Wasn’t offered the job.

    Frankly, if after two you’re not sure…but it also depends on the job itself.

  13. TeacherNerd*

    This all sounds ridiculous, but I understand that the number of interviews deemed “normal” is industry specific. I’m a high school teacher, and two summers ago had 13 (!!) interviews scheduled over the course of the summer – but with 13 different schools. Interviews could last up to 30-45 minutes (but not always), depending on the number of people involved (sometimes I only met with the principal or executive director; other times I met with multiple administrators and/or faculty), but there were no second interviews. Most of the time I didn’t hear a peep afterwards; maybe 3-4x did I get an official rejection.

    All of this of course can on the level of education at which one teaches, or one’s status, but even when I primarily taught in higher education, I might meet with one administrator or multiple admins/faculty, but I can’t recall multiple interviews. With a single exception in the 10 years I’ve been teaching, I’ve only had, I think, two interviewers who wanted me to come back for a follow up (both cases to give a demo lesson). Of course, the number or length of interviews does not necessarily equal success in landing the job, as I think one can garner from previous comments.

    Being in an industry in which there are multiple rounds and hours of interviews is mind-boggling to me. I know I’ll hear the argument that it takes time to determine the potential of a good fit. A second interview, fine. More than that? Yeesh.

    1. Mike C.*

      I’m with you here. I feel like some of these more egregious cases are folks who are treating hiring like looking for someone to marry or be a best friend rather than understand that the marginal utility of multiple interviews drops off very quickly.

  14. mf*

    OP, why not ask them directly what they are looking for?

    “You’ve mentioned that you’re really intent on avoiding a bad fit. Can you describe what a bad fit looks like to you? If you could hire the perfect candidate, how would you describe that person?”

    Also: “I’d like to hear your feedback on whether you think I’d be a good fit? Are there any aspects of my experience, skills, or personality that you have reservations about?”

    Their answer might give you more of a sense of whether they are being thoughtful and intentional about looking for the right candidate. And if they indicate they have reservations about you, then you’ll have more information to decide whether you want to keep jumping through hoops for this job.

  15. Chocolate Teapot*

    I had a telephone interview for a job with a famous global company, who told me there would be at least 7 interviews. After the first telephone interview, I ended up accepting a job with another company, but from what I can gather, the process would have involved multiple interviews with various level HR people, the team with whom you would be working, and the bosses of the team with whom you would be working. Whilst I know how important fit is for a candidate, I did wonder about how far it would go and would the discussions turn into repetition?

  16. De Minimis*

    I question the recruiters being so involved–in my experience the recruiter is more for initial screening, and once you’re actually meeting with people who are making the hiring decision you shouldn’t be dealing with the recruiter until the process has finished [one way or another.]

  17. Robin B*

    Job I start on Monday: No phone screen, just invite from HR to come in for interview. Second interview only because COO was out with sick child the first time. Submitted writing samples and a week later got an offer. I just can’t imagine 7-11 interviews, but then again, I’ve been in my field for over 30 years.

  18. PinkCupcake*

    For me it is less about the number of separate interviews, and more about the number of times I have to take off work and make arrangements to interview. If I need to take a full day off from my current job and interview on-site with 12 different people, OK that’s perfectly fine. If I have to take numerous half-days off to keep coming back to interview, that just tells me the employer is disorganized and doesn’t value or respect my time or current obligations.

  19. Lindsey*

    I interviewed at a place for an entry-level job that had six (!) rounds of interviews…and they weren’t progressive, they just wanted me to meet everyone on team individually. Then they gave me a written assessment…and then wanted me to talk to EVEN more people within the organization. I didn’t end up getting the job, but see it advertised every year or so. Feeling like a bullet dogged there.

  20. Ponytail*

    I have had one experience of having two interviews and I could see very clearly why the second interview was necessary – it was much more relaxed and informal, and was about gauging my personality. Every single other job I’ve ever had (and in 30+ years of working, and with fairly short stints, there have been a lot of jobs) I’ve had one interview per position. I’ve had four different ‘careers’, have worked abroad and have never had more than the one interview (except for the job in my first sentence). I love this site, I’ve learned so much about the US employment sector!

  21. College Career Counselor*

    Agreed with Alison–it’s not the number of interviews (although I’ve heard horror stories from students for entry level interviews at some firms), it’s the apparent disorganization and lack of consideration for your time. Higher education (for all its hiring/review faults) is generally able to condense the time period, once it comes down to the interview process. We will interview the hell out of you with everyone we can think of, but it’s typically confined to 1 day (or we’ll bring you in for two full days) and then you’re done. The candidate is generally completely wrung-out afterwards (speaking from observation and personal experience). I don’t know of a whole lot of higher ed candidates who are brought back repeatedly to campus to interview with different stakeholders.

  22. Lynne879*

    Is there any job (other than maybe say, being a CEO to a large company) where 5 or more interviews is the norm?

    I’ve only had entry level jobs that required one interview (or one phone interview and one in person interview), so I’m out of the loop as to what’s “normal” in terms of how many interviews is expected in a job.

  23. cncx*

    the worst job i ever had made me jump hoops through a million interviews. i got the job in the end, but it sucked, i left after six weeks, and their interview style was just part and parcel of their crappy corporate culture and toxic disorganization. were i to be job hunting again, even in this economy i would not take a job that made me do more than five interviews. Three would even be a yellow flag. (add usual caveats about at my job level, in my industry in my country etc).

  24. CM*

    I’ve seen a lot of companies with hiring processes that are not particularly considerate of the candidate’s time, but I don’t think it correlates well with being a good or bad place to work. Some places just aren’t great at hiring. I understand the OP’s frustration here, but unless there were other signs that the company isn’t a good fit I’d just suck it up.

  25. Jill*

    I work in government. I heard about a job from the spouse of the executive officer hiring me who suggested I forward her my resume. Didn’t hear anything, but no biggie. FOUR months later she invites me in for an interview over lunch and explains that it took four months for her job description to be approved. Interview goes great but again, I hear nothing. Whatever. SEVEN months later, I’m invited for a second interview which was more formal and with the area supervisor. Again, I hear nothing. FIVE months later they offer me the job but advise that it needs to be approved by the Board and their next meeting is another month away.

    you better believe I didn’t quit my current job until the day after that Board meeting. Fortunately I was currently employed and not desperate for the job. But the sad thing is almost all of our hiring opportunities can take 9 months to a year and a half from start to finish. And these are not the high-level executive type positions.

    It’s sad, because how many talented people do we lose just because people can’t wait 15 months for our process to conclude? Oh, and we also had a consultant study our HR and their findings were that we’re overstaffed in HR compared to other government entities our size. talk about government inefficiency!

  26. Rachel*

    Quite frankly, whenever I see a “personality test” in a job interview process, I always pull out. It’s not because I don’t have enough Emotional Intelligence to bullshit well-enough to pass them. It’s because I’d rather not work places that hire engineers based on “how many C’s” they picked on some psychobabble multiple-choice BS Bingo quiz.

    If you can’t tell my personality from speaking with me like an actual human being. That tells me all I need to know about your personality as a person, and your culture as a company. Spoiler: it’s not good.

  27. Sam*

    This can be easily explained by the fact that the external recruiter is working for a recruiting agency, not the company. So when he or she calls you to clarify certain items it’s not necessarily because the company ASKED him/her to, it’s because they see an opportunity to provide more information to the company to help sell your experience to them and push them to make a decision. Think of them like an agent for an athlete, they don’t work for the team so they are just trying to market your experience. That helps clear up several of the steps.

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