can I set a limit on how many interviews I’ll do with a company?

A reader writes:

I’m currently interviewing for new jobs, and the entire process is remote. I’ve noticed that the number of interviews for a single position is way higher than in previous years when I’ve looked for a job. In one position I’ve been through seven rounds of interviews, with no indication that a decision is coming soon. A lot of these are just repeats of the same questions that others have asked. I’ve been asked “what’s one word that describes you” and “why do you want to work here” by almost everyone I’ve been interviewed by, and my answer doesn’t change so I doubt this is an effective use of their time. For another position I’ll be in interview 4 later this week, and have already been told there will be at least two more…

All of this interviewing is becoming very time consuming, even though it is remote. I have a demanding full-time job, a family, and obligations outside of meeting every member of a company. Taking four hours a week to interview and several additional hours to prepare is not sustainable.

As I continue to apply and (hopefully) get asked to interview, I’m thinking about telling the HR recruiters from the outset that I can only commit to a maximum of four interviews, due to other demands on my time. If they want to pack three or four people into these interviews at a time, that’s fine with me, but I don’t want to invest 8+ hours into an interview process and then get ghosted, which is unfortunately quite common. The positions I’m applying for are mid-level and would not involve managing a team, and I just think that they’re going to learn all there is to know about me within four interviews. Is there a nice way to express this limit to a recruiter or will it just make me seem difficult?

It depends on how reasonable the company is, how strong a candidate you are, and how you say it.

To be clear, it’s a reasonable thing to say. There are very few positions where you can’t learn what you need about a candidate in four interviews (or at least all you’re going to learn), and a mid-level, non-management position probably isn’t one of the rare exceptions.

Companies that do crazy numbers of interviews do it because they’re disorganized and haven’t planned their process sufficiently from the start … or in some cases because they’re overly reliant on consensus and are involving an excessive number of people in the process, at the expense of the candidate’s time and energy.

That said, some companies will bristle at a candidate setting limits on their process. In most cases, those companies will be telling you something valuable about themselves, and it’s reasonable to decide you’d prefer to screen out companies that think they should have an unlimited claim on your time. But it’s like anything with job-searching — if you have options, you have the luxury of being pickier about what you are and aren’t willing to do. If you desperately need a job, you’re not in a position to exert as much control.

As for how to do it … I’d be reluctant to declare it at the very outset. If the company typically just does, say, two interviews, it’ll come across oddly to preemptively announce that you won’t be doing more than four. So there’s not an ideal way to bring it up at the very start.

However, at the point where you’re invited for a second interview, you could say, “I’d be glad to set up another meeting. Can I ask what the process will look like from here and how many steps you anticipate it having?” If they tell you there are a ton more interviews to come or if they’re vague about what they might want, you could say, “My work obligations make it difficult for me to commit to a large number of meetings. Is it possible to plan around that? If we can structure it so we both get what we need from no more than four interviews, that would let me commit to your whole process.”

What you’re likely to run into, though, are companies that describe a shorter process but then ask for more and more of your time anyway — because they keep thinking of additional people they want you to meet with or other areas they want to probe. If that happens, at that point it’s reasonable to say, “Because of my schedule, it’s getting tough for me to keep taking time away from my job. If this is the final interview I can make it work, but I want to be transparent that it won’t be easy to continue being available after that.”

That’s not quite the hard-line “I will only be available four times” statement that you were contemplating — it’s softer. But it’ll get the basic point across, and if they do come back and ask for more interviews after you’ve said that, (a) you’ll be learning something about how they respond to people who try to set reasonable boundaries (unless they have a very good explanation like “everyone involved in the interview process has been killed in a horrific llama attack and all their notes were lost with them”) and (b) you can always say no if you want to.

{ 245 comments… read them below }

  1. Green Goose*

    I want to say that it’s super time consuming and ridiculous to have interviewees go through so many interviews. I remember back in the day when I applied to my current company, got an offer and then was told I had to meet with the CEO and I was like… so it’s not final??
    But I also know that if a candidate told my company they could only do x amount of interviews they would probably be disqualified unless if it were a really high up position. I don’t think that’s right but pretty sure that’s what would happen.

    1. Anonym*

      I also can’t imagine many companies would be willing to change their process for a single candidate, even if the recruiting team recognizes the burden and loves the candidate. I think my very large company would not.

    2. Teapot Enthusiast*

      I had worked at a company as a contractor. The head of the department I’d worked for — who had recruited me to this contractor role — got a promotion and reached out to me to see if I was interested in taking his old job. I said sure and went on to have three interviews, one with the team, one with peer managers, and one with the CEO. Then I get a fourth interview with the head of HR and I expect it’s going to be an offer and a salary negotiation; instead, she hits me with “why do you want to work here?”
      I was like………idk pal ask the guy who recruited me, or ask the CEO! (I did not say that, but I thought it real hard). Turns out the CEO did *not* have the final say; they ended up restructuring the job, they wasted two months of my life and burned a gosh-darned bridge with me. They post new jobs every two weeks or so so I guess it’s a bullet dodged but…phew I was so mad.

      1. TheRain'sSmallHands*

        My husband had one like that. A former coworker of his was brought in to be the new CTO. He recruited in my husband. My husband goes in to talk to the head of HR – like you thinking this is a “how much do you need us to pay you” meeting, is left waiting for an hour, she then reschedules. He really really wants to work for his friend, so he takes the reschedule. She sits across from him and says “why do you want to work here” – he looks at her and says…”oh, you don’t understand, you want me to work for you, I’m being recruited by your new CTO – I don’t want to work here, this place has a horrible reputation, but I do want to work for Ralph and with the team Ralph is recruiting in.”

        He did take the job, it was a year and a half of a well paid disaster (he did get some great opportunities to do things, but for the most part, it was an exercise in frustration), and then he left along with his friend and all the other people his friend had recruited in.

        1. Medusa*

          Okay, this is hilarious. Although I understand that it most like wasn’t hilarious for anyone going through it at the time.

      2. Frankly, Mr Shankly*

        I’ve literally just been through this. I temped somewhere for 20 months, I wanted to be hired, they wanted to hire me, but there was no budget in that department. I left for a perm position that I really don’t like so I started looking. I spotted a job through my old agency that I was sure was at the old company- I reached out and had 5 interviews. 5 interviews for a job I already did (in a different department)! And they passed on me. I feel lower than low- how bad of an impression did I make that they passed after 5 rounds? The last guy who interviewed me hadn’t even bothered to look at my resume beforehand.

    3. Snow Globe*

      I wonder if the shift to zoom interviews may have something to do with an increasing number of interviews in the process? Maybe companies that would recognize that asking candidates to travel to the office multiple times is a lot to ask, but they may think a zoom call isn’t as onerous since the candidates are just calling in from home.

      1. In office Elf*

        Unfortunately, not all of us are working from home and we still have to take time away from the office to go home to interview…even on zoom.

        1. Jora Malli*

          I did all my interviews for this job in my car in the parking lot of my last job because it’s not possible for me to work from home, which means I had to take my “lunch” at weird times, which was definitely noticed by some of my coworkers.

          1. Meghan*

            I rarely ever take my lunch before 12PM, usually I go at 1PM or later. Well, the company I am with now sent me a text at 9:15AM asking if I could be there at 11AM (they’re across the street from my old job). I was so checked out at old job that I just clocked out, did the interview and came back, didn’t even tell my co-worker that I was going to lunch/off property at 11AM.

        2. Frankly, Mr Shankly*

          Yeah- I rented “by the hour” office space each time. The process cost me almost $100, which I spent because, hey, I’ve done this job! They know me! They liked me!

        3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          For sure. I think Snow Globe makes a good point that companies probably think it’s no big deal to just hop on a Zoom interview (vs. having to come in person). But it’s not actually the case. I’m WFH at the moment and it would still be a pain to try to jam 7 interviews into my schedule without it messing up my current work. And it’s got to be 10 times worse for people who aren’t WFH.

      2. Lab Boss*

        I think it’s got to be part of it. The burden of clicking “schedule” on another Zoom call is lower than the cost of actually arranging human beings to put themselves into a meeting room at the same time, so it’s easy to keep adding more layers of interview.

      3. Aitch Arr*

        This is definitely part of it.

        In the Before Times, we’d fly a candidate in to one of our hub offices and they’d spend a day interviewing with different folks, or even do a panel interview or presentation.

        Nowadays, it’s whenever we can grab 30/45/60 minutes of someone’s time on Zoom.

        We still do the panel/presentation interviews for some of our roles, and those are a bitch to schedule.

        1. JR*

          That’s an interesting point about pre-pandemic multiple-interview days. Previously, maybe round 1 would have been a phone screen with HR, round two a one-on-one interview with the hiring manager, and round three a half day consisting of a series of, say, three back to back interviews, each with 1-3 people – grand boss, peers, etc. But if they’re scheduling what would have been the third round via Zoom, it’s easier on their end to just schedule the candidate with those several people at whatever time works on people’s calendars, without thinking about the fact that spreading a block of several interviews out on the candidate’s calendar is way more challenging than doing it all in a row. It might be the same number of interview minutes, but may more burdensome.

        2. berryjo*

          Yes, this is definitely part of it and from the interviewee side it is terrible and exhausting. On the company side, they’re just arranging half-hour meetings with 5 or 6 people, so some places will just grab any time that’s available on each person’s calendar the way you would any other meeting instead of viewing it as a coordinated block of time the way you would if someone were coming to the office to interview. But for the person interviewing these aren’t just any other meeting. When I was interviewing for my current job a few months ago, the second (out of five!) round of interviews was six 30-minute Zooms with each person on my main team. They wanted me to do a series of half hour calls throughout the week. I was like can we at least get these all on the same day? It’s unreasonable to expect people to be in the interviewing mindset every day for a week even if only for 30-45 minutes each day. And it is just asking for the interviewee to not be on their A game because something blew up at their actual job just before they have to hop on to the interview. In my case they did end up accommodating my request to have them on the same day but they were spread out all day so I still took the day off work so I wouldn’t be hopping back and forth between work meetings and interviews all day. I’m glad I took the job and I mostly like the company but the hiring process was not a good experience and this in particular felt super out of touch with how the process would be felt by the candidate.

      4. Nanani*

        “Just” working from home is not an accurate mindset. It’s still taking away people’s time and focus, and if they have a job with a lot of calls/meetings, still needs to be planned carefully to avoid people finding out before they’re ready to announce, just like if they were taking time off.

    4. Amy Bastien Atterbury*

      What an excellent topic. I have gone on job interviews to meet meet with the actual department head only to have that person take me all over the building in a tour! After 3 hours of this, all I could I think of is ‘ let me outta here!’ So yes I agree that how a company presents themselves during interviews can be very informative about their culture. Now days I am much more clear on what works for me, and what is just of waste of time.

  2. Justin*

    V much agree with Alison that they’re showing you they’re not well organized. Not a red flag per seeee but I wouldn’t expect them to be a more organized place to work, nor would I expect this request to go over well with such a place.

    In other words, the place that would respond well to the request is the place that probably wouldn’t need that request, I feel.

    1. AnonInCanada*

      This right here. A company like this would also be one who would put applicants through an arduous process (fill out this application form listing every job you’ve ever had going back to the paper route you had when you were 12 years old, along with all manager’s names, current addresses and phone numbers. And arrange for them to be available on Thursday morning from 5:40-5:50 for a reference check interview.) No thank you!

      1. Trombones Gigantes*

        At that point, I’d flat out tell them that I wasn’t a good fit and that I was removing myself from the candidate pool. There is a specific interview technique that does exactly this, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what it’s called.

        1. SixTigers*

          The “take this job and shove it” technique? The “I wouldn’t work for you if you were the last company on earth” procedure? The “I’ve seen disorganized companies but you guys take the cake” method?

          I mean, it’s good to be thorough when you’re choosing new employees, but there ARE limits!

      2. Moonlight*

        I find that retail and customer service jobs are really bad for this kind of process, but I’ve had corporate jobs that seem to expect this too. Like ok no??? You can’t just call random companies and ask to talk to my manager; many of my managers don’t work where I used to work, or the organization has a policy about not letting managers give references to people etc etc.. Most important, I have a list of references for a reason.

      3. Trawna*

        I ask about a firm’s interview process during phone screenings. A long process or no process means we are not a match.

    2. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I think some companies are also very sold on collaborative consensus when hiring.
      I remember doing one long day of interviewing where I must have met with at least 12-14 people, albeit that maybe 8 were in a group around a table asking me questions for about an hour. They were all nice, but it felt really excessive and took way more time than really needed.

      1. Overit*

        Three decades ago, I did an all day interview that began at breakfast and included interviews over lunch. The cast of interviewers changed every 60 minutes. Same questions asked every time. At the end of the fifth group, who had no apparent connection with the role, they asked if I had any questions. I asked why they were interviewing me and hiw they intersected with the role. Dead silence, followed by sidelong glances and a nervous chuckle. Silence followed. I was offered the job amd 2 weeks later, they rescinded the offer, citing that one period on my typewritten cover letter seemed “slightly dropped.” They then contacted me a minth later amd asked me to reapply. Nope! What a loony bin. Lucky break I did not get that job in the end.

        1. just passing through*

          …Did the role primarily involve typewriting documents for extremely picky clients?

          (I’m going to guess probably not?)

        2. TechWorker*

          Wait.. the first time I read this I thought you meant they were complaining about a resume gap.. but they rescinded the offer because of… a printing error? A typo? Wtf…

        3. Allonge*

          Was this perhaps a company training interviewers? It’s difficult to find any logic otherwise… to say the least.

      2. Alexis Rosay*

        Yes, this. With every hiring process I’ve taken part in that spiraled out of control (as an employer), it was because people kept wanting to add more stakeholders to the process.

      3. Rocket*

        We just went through a hiring process at my office. We’re a small team of about 12 and for the first candidate, our leadership wanted everyone to take part in the interview process. They absolutely thought it was a great idea for everyone to have a say and to bring their own lens to the interview. So this person did about 5 interviews with different configurations of people.

        I think it’s a nice *idea* – for everyone to have an opinion and for that person to be able to meet everyone, but…that’s a lot of interviews. And we really all came away with the same opinion (literally we all gave the hiring manager the same piece of feedback that we were concerned our work environment didn’t match up with this person’s work environment needs), so it wasn’t like we were gathering new information or they were getting lots of good, different feedback.

        Thankfully, I work at a pretty great place with decent managers who realized pretty quick this was not the way to go, and by the time we had a second applicant, they revamped the process to something that made much more sense.

    3. Smithy*

      I agree with this. While I’ve only had one interview process creep into that 8 interview territory just to be ghosted – most of my extended interview processes end up hitting that 4-6 interviews range are due to larger employer bureaucracies.

      The core issue typically is that there just isn’t the will to fight the HR processes, and instead they’ve developed workarounds. Interviews can creep in number because the first screening interview with HR is often only for screening and the information that makes it to the hiring manager is minimal. Three more interviews could/should allow for an interview with the hiring manager and two other options for either individuals, a panel, etc. But a large team can lead to numbers snowballing.

      I’ve taken jobs with two large nonprofits where the interview process definitely was in the 5-6 range. While I’d describe both organizations as having average to below average HR processes, I wouldn’t describe either organization overall as being a disorganized place to work but rather having some top down bureaucracy.

      If one’s personal preference is to avoid workplaces with bureaucracy that can lead to this kind of inefficiency – then that’s great information. But for larger employers, I do think that seeing disorganization in an HR process isn’t necessarily indicative of widespread workplace disorganization.

      1. Bibi*

        It is also a cultural thing.

        If you have to do more than 3 interviews for a regular corporate job in Europe, people will look at you as if you have two heads.

        I understand it can’t be quick all the time but there must be a balance. Finding time for job interviews, when you are fully-employed and you do not want the company to know, well it gets complicated really fast and it is pretty stressful.

        1. TechWorker*

          If you’re applying to a global company (or most likely, an American one with offices in Europe) then I don’t think that’s true unfortunately! The process can still be super long.

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, in my industry/location two interviews is the norm, three at the absolute most (usually for higher-up jobs) but a friend of mine applied for a job with a big American company’s London office and went through eight (!) interviews. And then didn’t get the job. Absolute madness, but it certainly does happen.

  3. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    ‘unless they have a very good explanation like “everyone involved in the interview process has been killed in a horrific llama attack and all their notes were lost with them”’

    I think I’d just do the extra interview at this point for the story about the llama attack. Were they particularly vicious llamas? Maybe they had been bitten by a radioactive spider and their spit became venomous…

    1. ecnaseener*

      How callous! You can’t press grieving people for gory details about their coworkers’ tragic llama accidents!

      1. SixTigers*

        You can’t press grieving people for gory details about their coworkers’ tragic llama accidents!

        You can’t? But — I mean —

        Oh. Umm. So that explains — uh, never mind! Okay!

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I’d end up blurting, “are the llamas OK?” And that would be the end of that.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        I dunno. Concern for the llama is a good trait in a llama groomer, or a llama vet.

      2. Goldenrod*

        Personally, I would hire you on the spot, based solely on your concern for the llamas. But that’s just me.

    3. Mental Lentil*

      If you have not seen the 2015 film Llamageddon it is currently on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

        1. Heather S*

          Guys it’s real! Someone actually made a movie about a vengeful llama from outer space! Now I have officially heard it all.

        2. New Jack Karyn*

          My roommate loves it, and has sat me down to watch the first 10 minutes–which is AMAZEBALLS! I did not have the stomach to watch the whole thing, and my girlfriend has thus far resisted even that opening ten.

      1. Dromaius*

        And the sequels:

        Appalling Alpaca Attack
        Volley of Vicuna Villains
        Ghastly Guanaco Aggression
        Cursed Camel Clash

  4. The Prettiest Curse*

    I think that, unless you’re interviewing for a C-suite position, the rule should be 3 interviews max. I can’t imagine that more interviews than that is a good use of anyone’s time.
    Also, I knew all those llama groomers would eventually somehow cause a llama uprising. ;)

    1. Triumphant Fox*

      I’ve seen 4 commonly, if you count the initial phone screen.

      1. Phone screen with recruiter
      2. Hiring manager
      3. Presentation/assignment/test of some kind
      4. Team or other stakeholders

      1. ThatGirl*

        For my current job, I had:

        -phone screen
        -talk with the hiring manager
        -assignment on my own time by email
        -round-robin of zoom meetings spread over 2 days with about 8 different people (the sort of thing that in person would be “here, sit in a conference room and all these people will come talk to you for half an hour each)

        the last bit was the most tiring, but it was still interesting to talk to a bunch of people I’d end up interacting with regularly, and I’d still count that as one “round” since they were all scheduled together.

      2. Kevin Sours*

        It’s really not that hard to come up with six or seven people you want the candidate to meet. Some of which are primarily for the benefit of the candidate. If you prefer serial interviews to panel interviews that six or seven separate interviews.

    2. Silmaril*

      Quite so – all those llamas who just want to stay ungroomed with tangled hair were bound to rebel eventually…

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I wish the llamas well in their struggle, and hope that the teapot painters will join the revolt soon.

      2. SixTigers*

        Well, if the llama groomers used the No More Tears detangler, maybe the llamas wouldn’t have been provoked into . . . into . . . into whatever it was they did! I mean, think about it! Most people don’t like having their hair pulled, and they gots hair alllllll over their bodies!

  5. darlingpants*

    I’m hiring right now and I’m noticing that doing virtual interviews means it’s really easy to do a large number of individual interviews because they don’t have to be blocked into one 4 hour on-site interview where you talk to 5 people all in a row (the way my pre-COVID interviews went). We’re doing an HR screen, a technical interview, a panel (which is 3-5 separate half hour interviews that could be back-to-back but don’t have to be), and for higher level technical candidates a presentation step as well. So that’s technically 7 separate teams meetings. But, if that was in person it would be two phone screens and one half-day on site, which seems pretty normal to me?

    I’m trying to respect the candidate’s time, and also my coworkers time, but it’s hard to balance reviewing a good number of candidates with doing a thorough interview process.

    1. Justin*

      I guess my question is why the panel is actually 5 separate interviews rather than one panel?

      1. Justin*

        I just had HR screen, interview with potential boss, panel interview (5 people at once), then potential boss called to clarify something (but only like 15 minutes), and that was it, and even that was a lot.

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Same. That part seemed weird to me. It isn’t a panel interview unless you are talking to the entire panel at once. That said, I have never had more than 3 interviews that lasted 1/4-1hr (HR screening, hiring manager+panel, sometimes biggest boss), so the idea of committing 1/2 a day seems huge to me. I’d do it, but it better be a unicorn position with one hell of a salary and benefits package.

        1. Anonym*

          After my recent interview experience, I’m officially a big fan of separate rather than group panel interviews! Sure, it takes longer, but I learned way more than I would have otherwise.

          I had 3 separate peer interviews recently to cover the panel portion, and I was able to draw out some interesting critical info from two of them that I doubt they would have shared in front of others. I got a good picture of the reasons for their relatively high turnover, team history and some challenging dynamics with other groups. If given the choice I would definitely do it this way again! (I did take the job, and all of the info was accurate – I went in much more prepared than I would have otherwise.)

      3. Amaranth*

        I don’t think that word means what darlingpants’ company thinks it does. It sounds like they’ve given themselves permission to disrespect the applicant’s time. darlingpants even mentions they don’t require them to be back-to-back, so are they scheduling at the convenience of the applicant or the interviewers? I’d definitely rather take an afternoon off of work to do a panel interview than have to find five different 30-minute blocks, not counting prep.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          Interviews I’m familiar with lean to serial one on one interviews rather than longer panel interviews. It just produces better results. Traditionally that’s packed into one half day “interview”. I think people may be feeling out how that translates to the Zoom world where setting up a single interview isn’t the logistical necessity it once was. Which isn’t to say that doing it as a block isn’t still the best approach, but without the overhead of the candidate coming to the office for every interview it’s no longer as clear. (And may not be a one size fits all situation for every candidate).

          1. As per Elaine*

            Yeah, while it’s potentially more grueling as a candidate, I find several short, serial interviews with 1-2 interviewers to be more useful to both sides than a panel (though a highly-organized panel where people just fire questions at you can be EXHAUSTING). You have much more or a chance for each person to get to know the candidate a little, and the candidate may well get better answers to their questions. It also gives the candidate a chance to meet the team somewhat, and for me, the people I work with every day are a huge factor in how much I like my job.

            It should definitely be scheduled in a block, though (or a block with short breaks), and if it can’t, it should be clear that you’re not expected to show up in a suit or whatever for every half-hour call over the course of two weeks. Also the interviewers should be coordinated enough that they aren’t all asking you the same five basic questions. (On my team people tend to ask about their areas of expertise, so one gets a sense of the candidate’s skills in a variety of areas.)

            For IT jobs I’ve been on one side or the other of, a half-day interview (sometimes a full day, even, though that was several years ago) or a block of zoom calls where you meet a bunch of people is pretty normal.

            1. Kevin Sours*

              The more I think about it, the more I think the critical thing is to *communicate* the process. As candidates we used to know more or less how it would work. You’d show up for an afternoon or a day and you’d meet some people. Maybe you didn’t know if it would be a panel or serial interviews or all of the people you are meeting, but you can roll with that. The important part is that you’d know that after four or six hours it would be *done*.

              Now? The HR people might know that they need to schedule five or seven short interviews but if that’s being done over a week or two even if it’s only the same four hours it would be before, it’s going to feel weird and disorganized because it’s going to come across as “by the way, one more interview” even if that was always the plan.

              1. Gumby*

                To be fair, if you tell a candidate they will be speaking to a manager and two peers and then they say something disqualifying in the first interview, you might not feel as free to stop the interview process at that point since you already gave them different details.

                In the before times, I had a job where our practice was exactly that – one manager, two peers in the first round. All on the same day. Usually 30 minutes per peer and 1 hour with the manager.
                But we didn’t tell anyone exactly that – just that it shouldn’t take more than 2 hours tops. That way it was not a big deal when the interview ended up being only 30 minutes in total because the first person they talked to could tell already that it wasn’t a good fit. Or because, say, they couldn’t answer a straightforward interview question to save their life because they were high.

                (Second round was with the CEO which was almost always followed by an offer if you didn’t tank the last interview. Said interview was not a difficult one at all more of a getting to know you thing but some people managed to mess it up anyway via remarkable stupidity/lack of situational awareness.)

                1. Kevin Sours*

                  And if you are doing them as a block that makes sense. But if you are spreading them out you might have to bite the bullet and just be more transparent with people. And I don’t know that you need to spell it out precisely but something like “we’ll have you meet with 3-5 people over the course of the 1-2 weeks” provides *something* to make it sound like you actually have a plan and aren’t just stringing along additional interviews.

                  Or maybe just stick with a block of interviews even though it’s over Zoom instead of in the office.

                2. Me*

                  Yeah, I’m with Kevin Sours — schedule them as a block even though it’s over Zoom. Set up one computer/Zoom account to be the “interview computer” and have the interviewers come into the room/cubicle in succession to talk to the candidate, and tell the candidate it’ll be 2 hours tops. That way you can still end after one 30 minute interview (if the first interviewer knows it’s bad) but otherwise they can just be replaced by the next interviewer. (Though I do suggest a 5 minute bathroom/stretching break around the hour mark.)

        2. Jaydee*

          Yeah, this is not a panel, and it’s very much inconveniencing the applicant.

          The candidate has to get into interview mode 5x instead of once, has to be away from work 5 separate, shorter times rather than just one half day or whole day (much harder to avoid suspicion), and has to tell the same stories and answer the same questions 5x. I guarantee that the 5th “panel” interviews are going to be much more lackluster than the first because the candidate has already answered the same questions and told the same stories and just can’t turn on the excitement anymore.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I’m sure it is easier on your end to spread those out rather than fitting them into a half-day, but on the candidate’s side it’s generally easier to take PTO for one half day vs carve out 5 separate meetings – even if they’re working from home.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        This is my take. The company: “oh, great! I don’t need to reserve a conference room. I don’t need to extend to an hour to do a tour/walk to and from/see candidate in and out of the building.
        Totally great for the company.
        Puts all the minor inconveniences (that turn into one big PITA) onto the candidate.
        I think with information from OP’s letter you can find a happy medium for both parties.

      2. BRR*

        This is how it is for me. It’s really hard to disappear for 30-60 min a few times in the som of a couple weeks. Even if it’s all remote, that’s time when I can’t respond to or check emails or IMs which if something comes up, would create a huge headache for me.

    3. Chc34*

      It’s often a lot easier for people to block out one afternoon for a half-day interview than it is to block out five separate half hour blocks on different days.

      1. Anonym*

        But not for everyone, especially with remote work. I much prefer them separated – easier to slip into my schedule under the radar, AND way less exhausting broken out over a few days or weeks.

    4. DG*

      Scheduling candidates’ interviews over multiple days/times may be easier for you, but it’s harder for your interviewees. Now they have to block off multiple times on their work calendar that are harder to pass off as a doctor’s appointment, wear appropriate Zoom interview attire several days in a row, secure childcare if needed, get in the mindspace to interview multiple times, etc.

      Plus in my experience the 3-5 interviews towards the end of the process are extremely repetitive. I end up recycling the same talking points and stories over and over again.

      1. Inexact Science*

        Depends on the current and prospective role. As a candidate I found the option of spreading out interviews over the course of a week immensely easier than bunching them. Both logistically and mentally.

        1. TechWorker*

          They could even *ask* the candidate which they would prefer (!)

          Surely that would generally get some good will right off bat. Yes, scheduling the interviewers is slightly harder if all the interviews are on the same day back to back but presumably that was possible in the beforetimes.

      2. Leilah*

        Yeah, I actually would prefer many 1-hours all on separate days (if I am working remote and the interviews are remote as well). That way I don’t have to take any PTO or get any coverage and can easily flex that one hour into my day. If they are back to back I would have to have 2 weeks notice and find coverage and burn PTO.

    5. Inexact Science*

      Carry-over of old processes is a big part of it. In the before times, the on-site portion of interviews was either a half- or full-day afair. Candidates needed to see where they’d be working, and the overhead of getting to the interview location in the first place meant that an extra hour of the candidates time was often not much of an imposition.

      For hiring managers and/or HR departments that had low confidence in their process, it was inevitable that they’d go overboard on the number of interview rounds.

    6. FarAway*

      I once had a 5 hours long onsite interview with about 5 or 6 separate people for a position that paid about 24k. The last interviewer rated me in front of my face as I gave my responses.

    7. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think the key thing to remember though is that it’s easier *for your team* to not have to group all these into on block of on-site interviews. On the candidate side, many probably find one or two big blocks much easier both to prepare for and to get the time off that they need. Especially if they aren’t told up front how many interviews they should expect.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I think remote interviewing opens up a lot of interesting possibilities, significantly increases flexibility, and often opens up larger pool of candidates. And I’m sure there are plenty of candidates who also prefer smaller chunks that they can tuck into their schedule along the way. But on the whole it’s a pretty major and sudden shift from what a lot of people likely expect from the interview process and I think if we continue with it then carefully planning and coordinating who has to speak with the candidate and whether any of those can speak together, and communicating clearly to the candidate what they can expect need to be important parts of the process.

    8. darlingpants*

      Point taken that this is not actually a “panel,” it’s what HR has been calling it but it’s not accurate (although serial one-on-ones instead of true panels is how more than half of my pre-covid interviews went). Sometimes they are scheduled back-to-back and sometimes not, I’m assuming based at least a little bit on the candidate’s availability.

      I’ve always preferred the one-on-ones because it feels (to me) at little less like a crowd is bombarding you with questions, and I feel like people are freer to give their real opinions about the benefits and challenges of the company. In our case, each interviewer is given a slightly different area to focus the conversation on so hopefully the candidates don’t feel like they’re repeating themselves over and over.

    9. Antilles*

      But, if that was in person it would be two phone screens and one half-day on site, which seems pretty normal to me?
      The overall number of your meetings might be pretty normal. Separating it into that many individual interviews isn’t.
      As for respecting your co-worker’s time, what would you do pre-Covid if the candidate was physically coming in? I’m betting your answer wasn’t “I’ll just have the candidate drive to our office five times because it’s more convenient for us”. You would have either finagled the schedule to work with everybody OR you would have just asked someone else to jump in as an interviewer because Bob’s completely wrapped up. I don’t see why you couldn’t just use similar things now to still get it done in one fell swoop.

    10. RagingADHD*

      The corollary to that is that most candidates would perceive the half-day onsite as basically 1 interview, and sometimes the initial phone screen is done as part of the scheduling call, so it doesn’t feel like a “real” interview at all.

      So from that perspective, it’s a huge leap – 2 interviews to 7.

    11. Boof*

      In my org (health care – hiring providers) even when we are zooming as best I can tell we are still doing the multiperson interviews in a block – they don’t necessarily have to meet with every person on a certain team or bust, they have to meet with a few representative folks and the main person who will be their boss. I am occasionally on the side of being one of the interviewers (but not the organizer); organizer will ask “do you have time to meet with X candidate for Y position on Z date” or else “we are interviewing [a bunch of people for several slots] during these time blocks on these dates will you participate”. Extra meetings can be offered if the CANDIDATE is interested in talking about something more but wouldn’t draw it out more than that!

    12. Me*

      The thing is, it’s much easier for YOU to do a large number of individual interviews. It’s much more difficult for your candidates (who are working other jobs and may be interviewing at multiple other places) to take time to do seven different interviews.

      Two phone screens and half a day on site is totally normal, but a 15 minute phone screen can pretty easily be done over lunch while a half day on site can be played off as one doctor’s appointment or needing a sick day or just needing a vacation day. Whereas seven different half hour appointments (when you’re also working full-time) means having excuses for your boss as to why you’re not available at every single time.

      I think this move toward “sure we can split it up!” respects the coworkers’ time at the expense of the candidates’ time. Try and block way more of those together (or consider whether you really NEED that entire 5 person panel) to make it easier for your interviewees.

    13. anonymous73*

      Why do you need 3-5 separate interviews for the panel instead of one with everyone? 7 separate interviews is insane whether it’s in person or through a video.

  6. MisterForkbeard*

    We typically do this for most of our hires:
    1) An HR short phone screen and then we set up the real interviews (not sure if this counts)
    2) A technical interview from a panel (1h)
    3) A “do I want this person” interview from a manager (or panel of managers if multiple people are hiring for similar positions) (30m-1h)
    4) A “this is the leader of the department, let’s talk about the job and give you a chance to ask anything you might want” interview that runs for 5-45m.

    We try to get the 2nd-3rd done sequentially, and the last happens as soon as the department leader has time. I think this works – the problem is when we’re juggling multiple time zones and sometimes it takes a few days to get it on the schedule.

    1. Triumphant Fox*

      This feels familiar to me, even applying for a higher level position. The technical interview from is usually a presentation of some type and may involve a panel as well. I see the big buckets that need to be covered:
      1. capabilities (presentation/technical)
      2. culture fit (panel/stakeholders)
      3. hiring manager

      These have been in different orders for me – usually 3, then 1 then 2 (bringing in a bunch of people or higher stakeholders once the hiring manager likes you and you know what you’re talking about).

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*

      That seems reasonable to me. Each stage has its own justification and purpose. And the burden isn’t too high, especially if not everyone makes it to stage 4.

      I’ve seen some that were like this except that 3 & 4 were combined and an interview with co-workers was added around stage 2. They can be helpful as a candidate to get a feel for what a work environment is really like without it being filtered through HR or management. But it can also be where “interview scope creep” sets in depending on whether it’s a panel or not. Each has strengths and weaknesses: people are more likely to be candid without other people there, but one-on-one interviews can turn into a grueling marathon pretty quickly (i.e., “let’s have the candidate talk with the whole team, one at a time!” Ugh).

  7. LinuxSystemsGuy*

    The only time I was involved in a long interview process it was somewhat legit. It was a sales involved, customer facing technical role so I had to interview with both the technical team and the sales team, plus the manager and an executive (it was a small enough company that the COO had final approval on all customer facing employees). Even then I think it capped out at seven. I can’t imagine getting to eight and having more than one still to come.

  8. Queen Ruby*

    I’m on-site every day. It’s really difficult to do remote interviews during the work day – my office is not private, being “missing” for even a half hour would be noticed, and video calls on my phone are not ideal. I try to schedule calls either early in the day, or at the end of the day, when possible, so I can do them at home. I’d rather not burn up PTO for a ton of interviews.
    But I also hate my job with a passion, so there’s not much else I can do about it. Knowing how many interviews I’d be going through would help, but there’s not always a clear answer. It’s frustrating.

  9. Pls stop doing this*

    A long interview process is just straight up a red flag in my opinion.

    More often than not, it signals a *lot* about how the company runs. Everything has to be debated ad nausem before a decision is made, there’s going to be a whole lot of bureaucratic processes and “approvals” in situations that don’t need one, and overall it’s just going to be frustrating.

    That’s not guaranteed, but I’d be very weary of a company that thinks it needs 7 interviews to hire Sr. Analyst or Associate Manager or whatever. All it does is tell me “everything here moves glacially slow and getting anything done is going to take way more effort than it needs to because nobody trusts each other to make a decision.”

    1. irene adler*

      Exactly! One time, the interviewer explained that “everyone” would be interviewing me (all via remote). Had to be at least 15 people. She explained that they’d made a bad hire (difficult, uncooperative personality) and were not going to make that mistake again. This would be “Hiring by Consensus.”

      They did line things up for one afternoon. Thought that was nice.

      No schedule was provided to me ahead of time. Had no clue who I’d be interviewing with.

      They changed the start time to 30 minutes earlier. I learned about it about 10 minutes beforehand.

      Out of 15 people:
      -4 never showed up-including the HR person. No explanation given. IN fact I never got to speak with HR at all.

      -one guy told me right off, he wasn’t going to ask a single question. He was afraid of possibly repeating a question asked by someone else. So I spent the entire 30 minutes asking questions and trying to work in something about me that pertained to the job. He also couldn’t or wouldn’t answer my questions. Stressful.

      -several spent their time telling me very different versions of what the job was about. Never got clear on what the responsibilities were.

      -some were late (or kept popping in only to find they weren’t scheduled at that time).

      -most didn’t really know how we would interact. It was made clear to ME they were not sure why they needed to be involved with this.

      Clearly these folks were nuts. Pass.

      1. Penny Hartz*

        If you hadn’t said “remote” I would have thought we’d interviewed for the same job.

        Took two days off to fly 900 miles each way (luckily my husband was already living and working in the area, that’s why I was looking.)

        This was after two hour-long phone interviews.

        More than six hours spent interviewing/hearing myself speak/listening to people I may or may not have to interact with in the position tell me their life story. Some never showed up so I had to talk to the folks I had already talked to even longer.

        Dropped off personalized thank you cards the next day.

        They ghosted me.

  10. V. Anon*

    My company used to be *terrible* about this. Just no coherent process, different departments doing different things, a more-the-merrier attitude that served no one but the egos of junior people who shouldn’t have been a part of the process in the first place… and then it took forever to make decisions because as much as this wastes candidates time, it also wastes the interviewers time. Trying to set up meetings to make decisions, and then those junior people all have to perform how thoughtful they are and use all the buzz words… We lost excellent candidates all the time because they accepted other offers while we did this whole routine. The ONLY thing that stopped it was the current situation of workers having the upper hand. Suddenly it is important to move fast, define what you’re looking for, and make decisions. May it never change.

  11. Dinosaurs rule*

    Just to clarify – if you have a 2 hour interview and you meet with Amy, Brian, Chris, Denise and Georgina, does that count as one interview or five interviews?

    1. L.H. Puttgrass*

      That depends. Are all five sitting in the same two-hour long interview at the same time? One interview with five people. Are they individual interviews, one after the other? I’d call that five one-on-one interviews.

      The reasonable medium is somewhere in between, IMO (if only, as the LW says, so you don’t have to answer “Why do you want to work here?” and “Tell me about yourself” five times).

  12. A scientist*

    In my last round of interviews at a series of major pharma companies, I had an HR screening, an initial call with a hiring manager, followed by either a presentation and panel interview or a series of 3-5 individual interviews with different team members. To be honest, I preferred the companies where I had the individual interviews as it gave me a better chance to assess the company. And I agree with others that this is roughly equivalent to a pre pandemic combination of two screening calls and a day on site.

  13. DisneyChannelThis*

    My current job did an interview setup I liked. They asked for a full workday of my time. But then they had all the interviews and meetings and presentations in that time. I had 3 1:1s, 1 presentation to the department and 2 panel interviews. I had 2 followup phone calls, 1 was HR with the offer and 1 was with the department head just wanting to make sure I had time for any questions or thoughts since then. The rest was all emails.

  14. learnedthehardway*

    You could certainly ask what the interview process will be like for the company – in fact, it’s a good idea to do so. If the company says that you’re going to have 3 panel interviews by video, a presentation exercise and then meet with the board, you can decide whether or not you’re willing to commit to that.

    That said, for senior roles, that’s not uncommon. At manager level, I would expect at least 2 and probably 3 interviews / meetings.

    (I remember my second “real” job – I had 5 interviews before I asked how many more there would be. At which point, the interviewer told me they were trying to make sure that I was comfortable with them. I said I’d be more comfortable if they offered me the job. They did.)

  15. musicalmanager*

    My company does “amazon style” interviewing where there’s an initial screen done by either HR or the hiring manager followed by a “loop” (4 to 6 individual interviews back to back) filled either behavioral interview questions. Usually the process concludes at that point unless the decision is a no for the role but a yes for the company – in which case if the candidate is still interested the recruiter may try to find other roles they may be a fit for and then they loop for those.

    I’d probably advise not pushing back on number of interviews but I think it is okay to push back on number of days expected to commit.

  16. Just Your Everyday Crone*

    We do four rounds, a screener (15 minutes), 2-3 people at the level being hired into, 2-3 managers and 1 or both of the department heads (1/2 hour each). Seven rounds seems a lot, though maybe it’s not a huge amount of time and Zoom makes it easier to do piecemeal. I disagree with the LW that being asked similar questions by each panel is a waste of time. Reading someone’s notes of the answer to (to use LW’s example) “tell me why you want to work here” is not the same as hearing it from the candidate. It is also a jumping off point for other questions. We, the hirers, do have probably 80% the same questions, but having a panel interview of 8 people for an hour is a bit much, and scheduling would be difficult.

  17. Sad Desk Salad*

    Horrific llama attack?! How dare you besmirch the good name of this gentle creature?!

    Great advice, as always. A nice, direct line between the somewhat extremes of pre-emptive assertion and full doormat mode. No one’s going to set or enforce your boundaries for you, and if a company is sending you down seven(!) rabbit holes of repetitive interview questions, they’re likely to waste your time and abuse your boundaries once they’ve got you on their payroll.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I just want to say that I know someone who was severely injured by a llama and ended up on a British TV show about helicopter ambulances!

      But seriously, for a mid-range position, I would take this as evidence the company is disorganized, their decision-making process stinks, and I wouldn’t be able to get a damn thing done while working there without going through endless meetings and/or committees. I don’t even think four is reasonable. Three maybe, but not four, and certainly no more than that.

      1. Sad Desk Salad*

        Well, here’s a sentence I never thought I’d type, but I stand corrected on the ferocity of llamas!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Well technically, it wasn’t a ferocious llama; it was a scared, freaked-out one who knocked her down and she hit her head. But they’re big enough to knock you down, so there’s that.

      2. Yikez*

        I recently started a new position, the interview process took almost 2 months. First screen, then interview with the hiring manager, then interview with the director, then interview with the president and the director, then touch base with the hiring manager, then interview with the CEO. I took it as a sign they were taking the process very seriously. It’s a company based in an EU country with strong collaborative values. I couldn’t imagine deciding not to move forward just because there were many interviews. As long as everyone stays in communication and the process is organized then I really can’t see a problem. But I knew they were my “top choice” after speaking with the director.

        And so far I love my new position, they give me good bagels :)

    2. whingedrinking*

      Horrific llama attack?! How dare you besmirch the good name of this gentle creature?!
      I dunno, some llamas have given me a vibe like “If I weren’t basically a sheep crossed with a camel, I’d mess you up”. (Maybe it’s the way they always seem to be looking at you with their teeth.) Still quite cute, of course.

    3. Gracely*

      Llamas can be scary.

      Alpacas, however, are usually pretty chill. (And make a delicious steak, if you’re ever in Peru)

  18. Allison*

    My spouse is job searching in the tech industry and this is SO common right now. Doing 6 – 8 interviews has become the norm, and it seems that this is happening just because it is easy for the company when everything is virtual.

    1. Raboot*

      I job searched for a senior software engineering position recently and it was still recruiter -> maybe technical phone screen -> 3-5 hour long interviews, mix of technical and behavioral. The only real difference I noticed from the Before Days is the company that offered to let me split the “on sites” (now virtual ofc) over 2 days if I preferred.

    2. wildcat*

      That has been my thinking too! Positions that do not need multiple rounds now get them because they don’t have to pay for flights and hotels! I’ve tried having them at lunchtime and so I dash home, put on makeup and interview appropriate clothes, do the spiel, wash makeup off, change and run back to work. It’s a lot!!

  19. CatCat*

    This is so dissatisfying. A bunch of time will have already been wasted if you find out after one or two that like five more are required. Are companies really going to react poorly if you ask about this out of the gate? Like, you see a job ad you may be interested in and reach out to their HR to politely ask something like, “Can you provide an estimate of the number of interviews required in the process before a candidate is considered for a final interview?”

    1. Midwestern Scientist*

      I think if you frame it as a question in an initial screen/first interview (e.g. “Can you tell me what your process typically looks like?”) that would be better received than the hard limit that the OP described

      1. WindmillArms*

        This seems like a great way to do it! It also gives a bit of bonus information, which is: do they *have* a process?

  20. Llama Llover*

    I would just like to say that llamas would never!

    Maybe it’s my age or how busy I am, but people have to have a really important reason to get on my calendar. I work for the federal government, which is notorious for its slow and painful hiring process, but I have never done more than two interviews for a job, and it’s only been twice: once to meet the grandboss and another time when the first one was a phone interview. I can’t even imagine a for-profit company to waste resources like this.

    1. whingedrinking*

      No kidding. I’m really blown away by these people saying “oh yeah, in my industry four interviews is pretty reasonable”.
      This may be because of the industries I’ve worked in and the way people tend to acquire jobs in my current field – ie, mostly through their connections – but I’ve never been through a process of more than three interviews, and in that case at least one session was almost more of a chat.

    2. Anonym*

      As a candidate, I definitely want to meet with more than just two people to learn about a job, especially if one of them is HR, who presumably can’t offer much insight into work and team dynamics. And at this point, if not in dire straits, I would bow out of a process that didn’t offer multiple peer interviews.

      I had 5 for my recent job change – initial hiring manager (who was actually the grandboss), three peer interviews which were by far the most informative, then the direct manager who had just been hired (role wasn’t filled when I started interviewing). I was pretty happy with the process. The grandboss was focused on the larger vision, the peers filled in a lot of the dirt / reality of the team and job, and the direct manager was able to talk about their management style and specific expectations.

  21. Eldritch Office Worker*

    ” some cases because they’re overly reliant on consensus”

    I am gutting myself trying to fix this in my company…but at the same time internal processes work this way too and maybe it’s good for people to know. We absolutely lose people over it though.

    1. Goldenrod*

      “or in some cases because they’re overly reliant on consensus and are involving an excessive number of people in the process, at the expense of the candidate’s time and energy.”

      I would keep trying to fix this, if you can!

      I had one all-day interview that involved me meeting with three different groups – and 2 of the groups had 15 people each! Also, there was ONE person who was in ALL the interviews, and the GROUPS ASKED REPEAT QUESTIONS. It was really awkward. At one point, when I got the same question for the third time, I had to turn to the one person who was in every interview and ask, “Is it okay if I use the same example?” I mean, I prepared, but I didn’t have many multiple different answers for every question!

      And this was for an Executive Assistant position! It’s not like it was super high level (or high paying) or like I was going to be supervising anyone. It really seemed excessive and turned me off.

      At the very least, they could have coordinated their questions….

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Ooof! Ours isn’t that bad, and we do coordinate our questions, but it’s still not ideal. I’ll keep trying! It’s a hard culture to break when everyone is used to having a say even when they don’t have to.

    2. I went to school with only one Jennifer*

      Maybe point out to someone how expensive all these meetings are? The old figure used to be $100/hour/person and maybe it should be higher at this point. So for Goldenrod, let’s say that was 35 employees interviewing someone for 1 hour each – that process just cost the company at least $3,500, plus more for behind-the-scenes admin work, plus all that lost work time.

    1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Any animal can attack if they feel threatened. I’ve seen turkeys, geese and ducks go after people. I’ve had a bird (a robin) attack our cat because he got too close to the nest. It kept diving bombing and flopping him on the head as he sulkily walked away.

      I imagine llamas might spit, kick, shove, or head butt you when angry.

        1. Dinwar*

          I mean, they’re dinosaurs. They’re about the size and mentality of a velociraptor (the ones in Jurassic Park were Deinonychus or Utahraptor).

          Viewed in that light, the Victorian practice of keeping geese in the barnyard takes on a whole new light. They literally used dinosaurs to protect their animals!

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Google “llama berserk syndrome”, be prepared to have your life changed

    3. Fresh Cut Grass*

      Oh yes. Llamas are MEAN. Alpacas are gentle souls. Llamas want blood.

      Around here, people put a single llama in with their flock of sheep, because llamas are fearsome enough to protect the sheep.

      Don’t mess with a llama.

    4. Dinwar*

      Normal people fear predators–wolves, lions, bears, things with sharp teeth and claws. Biologists fear herbivores.

      You’ve got to remember, a predator fights to eat. If you put up too much of a fight, they go away and look for an easier meal. Something as simple as wearing a mask on the back of your head (so it looks like you’re facing that way) can scare of some of the largest predators in the world. On the other hand, herbivores fight to live. Lunch for the lion is a life-and-death struggle for the gazelle. And the lion loses 80-90% of the time. Add to that the fact that many herbivores have hooves, or eat tough foods (and therefore can bite through a steel bar), or have antlers/tusks/spiky bits, or are just enormously massive (buffalo buffalo for a reason), and herbivores become terrifying.

      Or, think of it another way: We took two of the most voracious predators in history (wolves and cats) and brought them into our homes. After 15,000 years of trying, we still can’t domesticate some herbivores, in large part because the herbivores in question are just too mean.

      Having experienced both, I’d MUCH rather come across a mountain lion than a moose in the wild. The mountain lion will avoid you if it can. The moose will straight up run you down, and not stop until you are a red smear in the dirt.

      Lamas may not be as massive as a moose, but they’ve got legs, and they’ve got hard heads, and they have tempers. They’re small-ish Camelids that haven’t forgotten that their ancestors were two stories tall and faced down short-faced bears!

    5. Forkeater*

      If you see them where people are swimming, shout, “Look out, there are llamas!”

  22. El l*

    Another way of saying Alison’s point:

    Give them a chance to be good, before you start putting your foot down. And keep the discussion dry – no talking about “ghosting” etc.

    Which to me means – do it in 2 interview blocks. Then I’d say that if they want a third interview, especially if the second one wasn’t concise/full, THEN start enforcing boundaries. And keep the language professional.

    Like, “I have deadlines I have to honor in the next 2 weeks. Could you please spell out a firm timeline for the process before we settle on a time for interview #3?” Or, “Would by email be possible for a few exercises?” Or, “I have an existing commitment next week, so 2 more interviews isn’t possible. Can we just do one time block with all the remaining stakeholders who need to speak with me?”

  23. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    I’ve noticed since the pandemic started that there seem to be more interviews than usual. I think it’s because they are now remote and hiring teams thing well why not–it’s just a zoom call? But it’s still a real time suck if you’re working a full time job, and in most cases, not necessary.

    Still, I do not think I’d bring it up until perhaps interview #3 unless there are unusual circumstances.

  24. Alia*

    I’ve been job searching for the past few months with some flexibility – I moved back to the US after finishing up an international contract, and wanted to move with a job in hand but didn’t need to – so I was fortunate to be a bit selective. I ended up pulling out of selection processes for several jobs I would’ve loved to take simply because they had 6-8 touchpoints for positions that definitely don’t need that many touchpoints. (I’m 28, still relatively early career but verging on mid-level roles, not managing anyone.)

    One org’s process started with an hour-long video interview, followed by an assignment (that would only take “5 hours to complete”) due a week later, then another interview with a different person after they’d reviewed the assignment, then another assignment due a week after that interview, then a panel interview, then an hour-long executive director “meet & greet,” then “a chance for me to interview them” at another 45-minute meeting, followed by one more hiring manager interview. Another org wanted a phone screen, individual interviews with all 5 members of their team, an assignment, and another panel interview with the same 5 members of the team.

    Thankfully other job offers came through and I was able to pull out of these intensely long processes, but it’s definitely not a candidate-friendly system – especially while working full time! I did give that feedback to the potential employers. They said that the number of interviews was part of their goals to be more equitable, but weren’t able to explain how making people schedule so many unpaid hours to interview and do projects contributed to equity in hiring in any way.

    1. Goldenrod*

      This is absolutely ridiculous! I’m glad you got another offer and got to dump them. Hopefully, they will continue losing candidates!

    2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Yikes!

      I would pull out of that too.

      At my company, we do the following:
      -very short (60 second) intro video
      -phone screen (30-45 minutes)
      -exercise (which should take no more than an hour to complete, but could be shorter)
      -role play (20-30 minutes)
      -interview with manager (1 hr-ish)
      -depending on role, there will sometimes be a short call with one of our founders, but not always

      At each stage we score candidates on various things against a rubric and only move forward those that score over a particular threshold.

      It feels to me as though it is thorough, but not excessive.

      1. Gumby*

        Unless the job involves being on camera for the customers/public or video editing or something, the “intro video” just reads to me like “we want to screen out people who are not like us” – whether that be race, class, gender, makeup/hair/clothing choices, or whatever – much like photos on the resume read in a US context. (I do realize there are places where photos on resumes is common.)

  25. Anonymousse*

    I don’t have a long work history, but I have enough that I’ve been on a few panel interviews and managed some. I just can’t understand why a company would do it this way unless they are a mess.

  26. I like hound dogs*

    My husband did eleven interviews with a company last year. I think it was a situation where “everyone’s a partner,” etc. He was annoyed by it. Even though the interviews were remote, it seemed like a giant waste of time.

    I got my current job after one phone call with their internal recruiter and one 45-minute interview. The recruiter called me “to connect” a couple of days after the interview and I was completely taken by surprise when she offered me the job. But I guess I appreciate it? I like the job.

    1. BasketcaseNZ*

      That sounds like me landing my current job.
      12 minute chat with the external recruitment company they were using, a 45 minute interview with the team I’d be working with, and the next thing I knew (and faster than I expected) an offer.

  27. Bill*

    You can put a limit on your time, but it will definitely take you out of the running at some companies. All of my open positions right now will require 5+ “interviews” and some require 6.

    Usually that’s one or two phone screens and then 3-4 “on site” interviews conducted virtually. We consider the 3-4 on sites one “round”, but more and more candidates are spreading these out over a week or more. Before covid they used to be all in a day which was both more exhausting and also made the process move faster. For some specialized roles we’ll add an additional 1-2 interviews. And every candidate gets to chat with me. It isn’t an interview since I’m just trying to sell them on the team/company. But it probably feels like an interview to the candidate.

    Could we do less? Probably. I think we’ve tried. I like having an “extra” interview because it lets the candidate completely mess up one of the interviews. Not like red flags mess up. But maybe they just don’t have a good anecdote for a specific question or they brain fart on a term. Cool, if they did well on the rest we’ll still hire them.

    1. Mockingjay*

      It takes 6-8 interviews to figure out if a candidate will fit?

      And yet it can take only one date to figure out, nope, not gonna be my life partner.

      1. Bill*

        We can usually tell if someone is not a fit at all either at the resume screen or phone screen stage. The rest of the interviews are to find out the depth of technical skills, ability to work independent, leadership ability,

        I know that our interview process is long. It is pretty standard for our industry. I’m part of a committee that’s trying to make it shorter.

      2. TechWorker*

        The obvious ‘no’s’ tend to be much easier than the definite ‘yes’s.

        To continue your own analogy, would you start a relationship or move in with someone after one date? Likely not :p

    2. Esmeralda*

      The chat with you is for sure an interview. You intend it to be selling your employer, but a savvy candidate will not take it that way.

      Great advice I got from a mentor when I was starting out: *everything* is an interview. Someone picks you up at the airport? The drive is an interview. There’s a reception or dinner or a meet and greet? That is an interview. They give you a break for personal care? If you run into someone in the restroom, that is an interview. You are always on until you are completely off the premises and no one from the employer is near you.

      1. Bill*

        Yeah, I know. I coaching people on the same thing. Everything is an interview.

        But I do tell candidates in that meeting that we wouldn’t be talking unless I wanted them to join my team. I explicitly say “you can’t fail this chat unless you do something incredibly offensive”, and I mean that. I try to get them comfortable enough to ask at least one or two questions about things that would be deal breakers for them. Like travel, hours (we do some weekends and evenings), raises (only once a year), etc.

  28. CupcakeCounter*

    8 interviews?!?!?
    We just hired 2 people and were freaking out when we asked for a second 30 minute video call because the candidates had already participated in a 15 minute audio only call with our internal recruiter and a 45min-1 hour Teams interview with the hiring manager and we were concerned we were asking for too much time.

  29. Temi*

    The number of interviews tells you a lot about the company. I worked for a really risk-averse company and there was a screening interview, one with the hiring manager, her manager, her peer manager, intelligence testing and personality testing. I would have preferred the money they spent hiring me as a bonus!
    If you aren’t looking forward to the next step in the interview process, maybe you really don’t want to work for this company? Trust your gut.

  30. Evvie*

    I went through four or five interviews for a TEMPORARY job with the potential for it to become permanent, sometimes with MONTHS between interviews. And then they seemed beyond shocked that I had taken a full-time, permanent job…

    Places that think this is a good idea are losing candidates.

    1. wildcat*

      Love it!! I always wish all the companies with long drawn out interview processes lose their top candidates and have to start from scratch each time!

  31. T.*

    I interviewed about 10 years ago at fruit named famous tech company. 6 rounds of interviews plus a video for an entry level in store job and I didn’t get it. Too much! People don’t mind how many interviews if you lay it all out there, don’t just keep adding “just one more”.

    I just left an interview with a candidate that I had meet with extra people because we could see 3 different roles he might fit. I was extremely apologetic and said “would you mind if I bring a few others in while you are here because I want to give you a few options that might be a better fit than this role and don’t want to make you come back again”. He was happy just to be considered.

  32. WhoHasThatMuchFreeTime?*

    My husband has had this issue applying for jobs in IT (software engineer). He has backed out of the process because of the number of interview sessions, and also the length of “skills tests” – someone wanted him to do a series of tests that they estimated would take 20 hours! They did offer an hourly payment, but as OP said, on top of a full time job, it is too much to expect.

    1. RedinSC*

      OMG! I did a “skills test” it was a research project and took me probably 12-13 hours to complete. I didn’t get the job, nor did they compensate me for that time.

      1. Moira Rose*

        When I was looking last year, I too did a programming-based skills test that was on my own time and rather lengthy. I enjoy writing in the language they were testing me in, but still, this wasn’t “prove you’re not totally lying on your résumé,” this was “do a ton of work that proves you’re not lying 50 times over.”

        I went with the company that didn’t test me at all and figured I probably wasn’t lying on my résumé.

    2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Yikes! I have a friend whose husband is a developer and he has been through interview processes that LITERALLY require him to take a week vacation from his job to work with their team for a week (paid), and I was appalled that he did it. I can’t imagine there isn’t a shorter way to figure that out.

    3. TechWorker*

      I have backed out of an interview process twice – once for a graduate quant role where they sent me a 2 page reading list and example technical questions and I quickly determined it would be weeks of work to be able to do well (I studied mathematics, but not economics or finance). The other was for a FAANG company that seems to *pride* themselves on their technical interviews and has tonnes of online videos about how to prep. I can tell you now that the most important skills/most difficult problems in my job do not involve coding algorithmic problems up on a whiteboard, and yet, this is their hiring process. I *can* do that shit, but I didn’t want the job enough to revise for a week in order to do the interview.

  33. RedinSC*

    So, to end up with a job on my team you probably will have 3 – 4 interviews.
    1. Phone screen
    2. panel interview
    3. team meet – less formal (and only if you make it past panel)
    4. potentially meeting with the CEO (for the higher level roles – he’s a micromanager and wants to know everything)

    Looking at 2 – 3 hours of time, even for the more junior roles.

    Cultural fit for both candidate and business are super important, and now that most interviews are actually virtual having a bit more time with a person feels more important, too.

  34. Love to WFH*

    The big tech companies put candidates through a marathon of interviews, over weeks. It’s a huge time commitment and very stressful. They get away with it because there are so many people anxious to work for them. People read books, memorize things, and drill on code challenges — coding things wouldn’t ever actually get used in real life. It excludes people prone to anxiety, or who have job or family obligations that are onerous.

    They get TONS of qualified applicants. Instead of filtering on “ability and willingness to flog myself for an extended period of time”,
    I think they should just screen resumes for basic qualifications, and then randomly select a suitable number to move forward with.

    I recently got a job at a tech company that is _not_ like that. I had three interviews, each with one person. I selected a convenient time for me from their online calendar.

    1. Elder Millennial*

      These procedures at the big tech companies sure seem like a great way to make sure that group that actually makes it through the whole hiring process isn’t that diverse.

      I’m sure it wasn’t the intend, but I would not be surprised if it is the consequence.

    2. TechWorker*

      Ding ding ding! Idk if the hiring companies genuinely think that coding algorithms on a whiteboard is an important skill set for the job (like, yes, it’s helpful for some stuff but it’s hardly the be all and end all) or if there’s just confirmation bias. (Everyone who passed the test is here! So the test is the correct way of hiring!)

      I also once failed a coding test because I had a one character typo in the easiest question despite passing all the more difficult questions (my fault, I wasted time adding nice comments vs more aggressive unit test). Like… yes I get they just have a blanket rule of dropping candidates who fail the first section but clearly not much nuance.

  35. Sarah*

    I understand why companies do lots of interviews, but on the job-seekers end, it can get really draining. I’m in the middle of the hiring process for four jobs–had two interviews last week, two this week, three next week. I didn’t have the “can someone please just give me a job” attitude when I started applying, but I sure do now.

    1. Sarah*

      I know I’m hardly an expert, but I can’t see why a junior level position isn’t capped at a phone screen, two interviews (not including panel interviews–don’t get me started on how much I personally disdain them), and a practical test if it makes sense for the role.

    2. kiki*

      Yes, I think companies tend to forget candidates are usually applying multiple places at the same time, have other jobs, and aren’t getting paid for the time they spend going through the interview process. At a certain point, you can’t know how good a hire will be, no matter how many times you interview them or how many skills tests you give them. Hiring always means taking a chance to a certain degree.

  36. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    Or you could just mentally ratchet your price up by $10K for each interview after the fourth.

  37. Overit*

    I bowed out of a job I really wanted after the 6th interview. (Note that the job site was an hour in heavy traffic.) Or rather, the 6th interview was supposed to begin by me picking up my woild-be boss at 7am for a breakfast 6th interview. (Which meant I left me house at 530am to ensure I was on time.) I showed up and he has not there. His secretary told me he was out of town and noted he “has trouble remembering his apointments.” A few days later, he contacted me to reschedule. No apology. Nope.

    1. Workerbee*

      Sounds like his own secretary has trouble playing attention to her boss’s schedule as well. And to ask a job candidate to PICK UP an interviewer, AND for a breakfast – aggh!

    2. Lysine*

      lol what? Picking your interviewer up at 7am for breakfast? I’d be askance at the request alone. Unless they’re promising me double my current salary I can’t imagine going forward at this point.

  38. A Person*

    I have to say, my standard hiring process is 5 interviews, and it would be really rough if a candidate wouldn’t do that as then I couldn’t fairly compare. However, we are also completely upfront about it as it’s indeed standard – I agree that if you’re told you’ll do N interviews and they keep adding it’s a red flag.

    * Recruiter screen
    * Hiring manager screen
    Below is what would be the “interview day” in the beforetimes, now video calls scheduled in a block (with flexibility depending on candidate preference)
    * Technical
    * Technical / cross functional
    * Cross functional

    This is probably less than pre-pandemic, actually, since if someone was on site we’d probably also add another hiring manager interview at the end mostly for candidate questions as well as lunch with the team depending on timing.

    1. Jaydee*

      As long as the screens are fairly short (15-30 minutes each) and the other three can be scheduled as a block, that doesn’t seem that bad, especially if you can tell the candidate in advance so they know what to plan for. It also seems like you’re pretty clear on what the role or purpose of each interview is, so it’s not too repetitive for the candidate. Honestly that sounds very different in important ways from what this LW describes.

      1. A Person*

        Agreed, but I think this is why this person having a specific set “4 is too many” number is problematic – a 5 interview screen above is really not that bad (although the screens aren’t quite that short, 30 and 45 minutes). In my industry my process is on the short side, too!

  39. MicroManagered*

    This is really timely because my friend just completed 7 rounds of remote interviews for a fairly normal job. We were joking that they don’t vet brain surgeons this hard!

  40. Purple Loves Snow*

    The multi-interview process just boggles my mind. I am not in the USA and am in a union heavy industry so that may be why. I have never had more than one interview for the role I was applying for. Each interview consisted of a 3-persona panel with the hiring manager, work manager and union representative. Then you either pass the interview and move onto references/background check and job offer; or you fail the interview and that is the end of the road.

  41. AdequateArchaeologist*

    Honestly, I’m baffled by jobs that need more than 3 interviews. I don’t think I’ve had a job that has ever needed more than 1-2 interviews (across a range of fields: retail/food service, administration, archaeology, and one short-lived call center job). I can see an initial screening plus 1-2 more rounds to flesh out details about skills etc. But 7 rounds?!

    Especially for entry to mid-level positions. I don’t mean to be rude, but how essential is it that every last person you might possibly work with get to pick your brain before you’re hired. I’m sure there are some positions/fields where it matters, but I’m having a hard time believing it’s that prevalent. It also sounds like a logistics nightmare for everyone involved.

    1. OyHiOh*

      I am likewise baffled. My org is hiring a senior, director level person right now. They’ve had two interviews a piece (one with a technical expert panel, one with a staff/board panel), and we’ll make a decision by the end of this week or early next week.

      Ask good questions (we’ve paid an HR consultant to help us draft good questions), and you’ll get good information out, quickly.

      I will say that staff is currently split. Our board adore one finalist over the others. The staff prefer one of the not-a-board-favorite candidates. The winds point towards the one the board likes (we have work fit concerns) but we’ll make the best of whomever gets the offer.

    2. Kevin Sours*

      Are we counting rounds or interviews? Because it would not seem abnormal to me to have a line up like:
      HR represenative.
      Tech Lead
      Hiring Manager
      QA Lead
      Product Manager
      Peer team memeber
      And maybe throw in CTO or other higher up

      Before the Zoom era you could run through that in an afternoon.

    3. Bill*

      In big tech in the US 4-5 has been pretty standard for about 20 years. Usually 1 recruiter screen (“can you legally work in this country?”, “can you perform the job duties listed here with accommodations if necessary?”), one technical screen (30-60 minutes), and then an interview day if you pass the technical screen. Interview day is usually 4ish technical interviews plus lunch. And that process is used for interns through VPs depending on the company.

      Some companies have added a homework assignment instead of some of the interviews, but I’ve found that takes a lot more time than just giving them a day of my time.

      I honestly can’t imagine having someone designing and writing software or monitoring data centers or similar with only 30-60 minutes of conversation.

      1. TechWorker*

        We hire grads for software development with 30-60 min of conversation and a short (20-30min?) aptitude test. I think for experienced positions maybe you want to dig into experience more, but we generally get enough info (and definitely get good hires)

        1. Momma Bear*

          We might do three rounds if we need to, but generally it’s two. We pull in the key players as a group when we can so we can make quicker decisions. Then the feedback goes to the powers that be who might have their own interview before making an offer. Six is unheard of here.

  42. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    I agree with Alison’s response. I think it would come off as very odd and kinda presumptuous to say at the outset that you’ll only do 4 interviews. It probably doesn’t help you – they’re not likely to agree to a hard limit like this – and runs the risk of hurting your chances. But a reasonable company won’t be mad at someone asking what their recruitment process looks like. Like you, I really wish that employers, as a whole, were much more conscientious about what they ask applicants to do.

    I also like the language about finding a way to make sure that the company gets what they need in order to evaluate you, while minimizing the disruption to your current work and other obligations. It’s showing respect for your current employer, which would be a good sign for how you’d act if they were your employer.

  43. BBB*

    SEVEN ROUNDS OF INTERVIEWS?
    3 is like the absolute max. how does the company have time for that?

  44. Elder Millennial*

    Reading these comments, I have a question: what kind of jobs are these that need interviews with 5-7 people? And what do you talk about in these meetings? (I’m talking about the ones mentioned above, so not including phone screening or hiring manager. There seems to be a whole other pool of people candidates meet during a procedure.)

    I’m not trying to be sarcastic here, I’m genuinely wondering in what field there would be that many people who need (and are able) to give useful input on a hiring decision.

    1. OyHiOh*

      In our current interview process, panel one looked at technical fitness: Do you actually know what the standards and best practices are? Panel two: public policy, how will you work with local elected officials, build regional consensus, and “do you actually understand the geographical scope of the role” (we asked that much more professionally and in a way that drew out enthusiasm and knowledge).

      1. OyHiOh*

        Oh, and we’re a non profit hiring a department head who will be working in an area that’s a blend of tech (broadband projects) with public policy (get a lot of folks who aren’t used to working together, to do just that).

    2. Alia*

      I work in research and comms (essentially a hybrid advocacy-type role) and the suggested interviews were just with various other teammates! The whole team, or, in some cases, people from all the teams that the role would intersect closely with. Definitely not necessary – also doable with just a well-chosen panel interview.

      The role did NOT need this many interviews and I did not need to meet that many people. They seemed lovely, but it really seems like hiring in a lot of these companies or nonprofits had become a full team/department decision instead of a hiring manager decision.

    3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Our panels are generally the hiring manager, 1 peer, 1 or 2 managers from departments that the role will be working closely with, and 1-2 community partners who will be working most closely with the new hire. Hiring manager screens for behavioral/”tell me when…” cases, peer generally covers the technical skills, other managers screen for whatever they are looking for in the role, and the community partners judge experience working with their specific communities and language skills if applicable. I’m SO glad we added the community partners because they have sniffed out a goodly number of folks who claimed experience with that community who had, at best, passing familiarity and clearly just Googled/Wikied for more info.

    4. Giant Nerd Party*

      I work in tech, a typical “onsite” round of interviews looks like:

      A) Coding, algorithms and data structures focus
      B) Communication skills, leadership, collaboration skills, working with a global team
      C) Coding, performance and scaling focus
      D) Project planning, prioritization, etc
      E) Debugging, problem solving, and handling production issues

    5. onyxzinnia*

      I do marketing for the tech industry and I am currently interviewing with multiple organizations while holding down a full-time job. 5-7 interviews per company seems to be the norm these days. It’s usually the recruiter, the hiring manager, 3-4 peers/directors of teams the role works closely with and the head of the marketing department. Sometimes the CEO as well. And there’s usually a presentation/assignment given somewhere around the peer interviews.

      It’s out of control.

  45. Sal*

    oh my god, feeling so grateful my last two jobs were one interview apiece. The one before that was only three and they graciously agreed to combine no. 2 and no. 3 since I had flown from Nashville to NYC for No. 1 a week prior and then again for No. 2 (which was TERRIBLE on my entry-level/new-grad wallet but the nature of the beast pre-Zoom interviewing).

  46. Xaraja*

    Goodness i thought the three interviews i had for my most recent job change was a lot. The director i would be reporting to called me and we kind of chatted for about 30 minutes as the first one. Them we did a video interview with him, his VP and the COO which was a little nerve wracking for a mid career IT position, but ok. And then they decided they wanted a technical interview because none of them were experts in the skills they needed me to have, so they brought in a consultant to do that and all of them plus the HR director watched quietly. (The HR director told me later the consultant annoyed her because he kept interrupting me.) So three interviews, and different questions on each, and no stupid “what word would describe you” or “what cartoon character would you like to be” questions, just straightforward business and tech questions.

    Unsurprisingly i love this job!

  47. I AM a Lawyer*

    Wow, we are looking at dropping from two interviews to one for most positions because the market is moving so fast that candidates are taking other offers before we can get to the second interview. Seven is so excessive! I can’t imagine the value of them. (We do use interview panels of 4 to 6, which helps keep the number of interviews low.)

    1. BeckyinDuluth*

      This is my question: What are people actually learning that is making all of these valuable? Assuming you are preparing with good questions, it just seems like it is something to make the company feel better, and not a way to actually get better candidates. I would love to see research on this, but I don’t know how you’d do it (too many variables that have a bigger impact).

      I understand having the person meet coworkers, but like…can you not do that in a (small) group interview? My department has a lot of room for improvement, but I do appreciate that we do hiring teams that include the hiring manager and at least one direct teammate and sometimes someone else in the department. We all interview together, even if there are a couple of rounds.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        So to expand on my list
        HR Rep. Initial screen for interest, basic qualifications, salary range match, etc.
        Tech Lead. General technical competence, technical communications etc.
        Hiring Manager. Is this somebody I can manage, etc?
        That’s the core of the interview process.

        QA Lead. General fit issues. Allow the candidate to ask about processes.
        Product Manager. Same from the product aspects.

        Peer Team Member. Mostly for the candidate’s benefit. Allows asking questions they might not want to address to Tech Lead/Hiring manager. But can also be used to check for red flags around diversity issues if the other interviewers don’t check those boxes.

        Big Boss. Usually a brief “Am I comfortable with this person check”. Honestly probably not necessary but sometimes the Big Boss wants to do it.

  48. Anon for this*

    I was on a video interview recently for an HR position with the head of HR. This position would be *reporting to her.* She said “I’ve seen your LinkedIn profile but I don’t have a copy of your resume, so could you fill me on your background?” (For the record, I had submitted a resume to the recruiter who set up the interview.) Huh? You’re the head of HR, you’re interviewing me for a position that *reports to you* and you didn’t review my resume first? It was definitely a red flag, made worse by the fact that when I interviewed with that person’s manager, he was clearly eating his lunch the whole time and grossed me out with all the loud chewing and burping. I get that we’re all busy and sometimes you just have to eat when you can, but come on, man. My shock and disgust must have shown on my face, because I didn’t end up getting an offer from that company. I consider that a bullet dodged.

  49. Gracely*

    Keep in mind, if they all die from a horrific llama attack but their notes are preserved, you should not feel obligated to more interviews.

  50. BA*

    When I interviewed for the job that actually started me in the industry I’m still in, I interviewed with the boss, who then brought me in for a second round of interviews with the team. Then an offer was made.

    The team talked the boss out of another round of interviews, just because the boss was hesitant and didn’t want to make the “wrong decision.” The team asked them if there was anything in the two rounds that hadn’t been asked, and if there was anything new I might bring to the table. Those questions prompted the decision.

    While two rounds is atypical of most places, I think the questions my coworkers asked the boss are ones companies should be looking at. Are we asking all the questions we want to ask and is there anything new that a candidate is going to be able to share in a round of interviews that hasn’t been shared already? Yes, you need to have candidates meet with (some combination of the following, depending on size of company) recruiter, HR, team, boss but a company also needs to ensure that the people in the process are all asking pertinent and different questions, and those questions are designed to draw information out from the candidate. Bringing someone in for another round of interviews with different people who are just going to ask the same questions isn’t helpful to your decision-making process or the candidate’s decision making process. As we’ve read here a lot, interviews are a two-way street and if the candidate isn’t enamored with your process, they’re not going to join you even if an offer is made.

  51. Esmeralda*

    For our office, most positions take a morning or afternoon of interviewing: search committee, presentation, interview with staff/collaborators, hiring manager. That’s four things (three interviews, one presentation) but it’s over in a little over three hours.

    Faculty positions require an ungodly number of encounters, but it’s all done in 1-1/2 days.

  52. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Maybe it’s different here in the UK but I’ve never had more than 3 interviews for a job and even that was rare (current post funnily enough).

    The company I work for is very strangled by red tape and regulations and paperwork etc but I still manage to do a standard one interview for people in the team. Although I suppose the technical test could count as a separate one if the candidate chooses to do it later/earlier.

    I don’t need the approval of my boss, my team don’t get a say (although I hope I find people who’ll work well!) and that’s about it. If I got past two interviews and somewhere said they needed a few more I’d probably ask them for exact details of time I’ll need to book off/gather spoons for (talking to people exhausts me).

    If they look to be going for a ridiculous number I’d bow out. A company that unable to make decisions is one where it’s unlikely you’ll ever get a raise/promotion.

    1. Notatworktoday*

      Likewise, I am UK-based and find this fascinating. I currently work freelance, doing between 5 and 10 separate contracts per year for different companies, everything is project-based and fixed term. It’s a very ‘who do you know, who have you worked with’ industry, sometimes interviews can be quite formal – a panel of 3-4 people on zoom, asking the same questions of every candidate. Other times I get a phone call out of the blue, “I’m looking for a [job role] for six weeks from 3rd August, Gussie Winkleworth recommended you, are you available?”.
      But either way, it’s one interview. At least 75% of the time they never get back to you with a decision, and you find out from social media that a friend got the gig, but that’s a whole different problem…
      Even when I worked in a more corporate environment, I never had more than 2 interviews for any job. Maybe I was never high enough up the ladder to warrant more?

    2. londonedit*

      It’s the same in my experience of UK book publishing. Haven’t applied to any jobs in the last two years but pre-Covid you’d apply, you’d be invited to a first interview with the Publisher/Editorial Director and probably the next-senior member of staff on the team (Commissioning Editor or similar), usually with an editorial test (or for more senior/commissioning roles then you might have to prepare and pitch a book proposal or two during the interview). Then if you got through to a second interview it’d be with the Publisher/Editorial Director and someone one level above them, like the head of division for a bigger publisher or the CEO/owner for smaller companies. It’s generally a fairly swift process, and the Publisher/Editorial Director would have the final decision. HR don’t usually get involved until the making an offer stage.

  53. Annie Mouse*

    For anyone who interviews/hires with a lot of interviews, can you shed some light on how these long processes come to be? Is it a matter of doing a round of interviews and then deciding you want Sally to talk to the candidates, and then James, and then Sue from accounting? Or is it planned and structured that you expect to have 4, 6 or 8 rounds from the get-go? Coming from a large organization with a regimented [reasonable] process, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around companies thinking this is necessary or even a good idea.

    1. Recruiter*

      I can give some context on this – I’m an in house technical recruiter and what I’ve seen over the past few years leads me to believe that when it was more of an employer’s market (that is, employers have the upper hand and can really make candidates jump through as many hoops as they deem necessary), companies would emulate those bigger companies’ hiring processes (think FAANG, or should it be MAANG now? lol) who go through multiple stages with candidates to really get to know a candidate. In that market, employers could be more selective and would have more applicants per role than they do now. (I’ve also seen this in public education as well on the recruiting side.) The thought process for both industries is that companies that do this are very risk-averse and want to be super sure that they’re not making a bad hire.

      Hiring by consensus is also a way to gather feedback from different people within the company – a good example is that a candidate might behave one way with a certain interviewer (let’s say the candidate talks to male interviewers one way and talks to a female interviewer a totally different way) – that’s an important thing to assess and something you want to know about prior to hiring. It helps employers within the company feel invested in the process and make them invested in how the candidate does throughout the process and help root and advocate for them. It’s also a possibility that the hiring by consensus practice leads to one person saying a negative thing and having everyone else follow suit or perhaps experience analysis paralysis.

      Fast forward to now, when it’s a candidate market and candidates have many more opportunities than ever before – candidates have the upper hand and can be a lot more selective on their time and efforts in the process.

      1. Recruiter*

        *It helps employers within the company feel invested in the process

        ack, it helps *employees* (who are doing the interviewing)

    2. Anonym*

      My old team was really small, and when we hired our third person, she just interviewed with my boss and then me. But my current team is larger, and my role is more mid-senior (program management and communications strategy), so I interviewed with boss, grandboss, and three peers – one on the team, and two who closely partner with the team. I would absolutely do it exactly that way again. We could probably skip the grandboss (in my case, boss was also being hired at the same time), but I would want the candidate to have what I had, which was really good insight into the work, the team, and the larger dynamics from several different angles. It’s less convenient, but I think best for everyone when your eventual hire is really well informed.

      My partner works in tech, which usually has long-ish interview processes. A few years ago he took an offer that came after only one interview, but was really uneasy about it, and unfortunately he was right. The team was an utter disaster. Total lack of any management and even the most basic of processes were absent. The lack of rigor in hiring reflected the total mess of the team and job. Pay was good, but turnover was through the roof – they kept driving people away and then hiring any qualified warm body instead of fixing things.

    3. V. Anon*

      At my company, I think it was originally a by-product of how busy the most senior people are. It’s very hard to get on their calendars, so they would delegate the hiring, but didn’t want to delegate making the final decision. And then the person who did the initial interview didn’t want to be out there all alone saying yes or no, so they got more people involved under the guise of “hey I’d love your read on this candidate, culture fit, blah blah, went to your school,” and then this stupidity kind of hardened.

    4. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I work in an industry that has a lot of peer company pressure, and every company tries to emulate every other company, so they all end up having the same interview process, same performance evaluation process, same benefits, etc. They are all obsessed with corporate culture. Before the pandemic, doing 7 – 8 interviews was absolutely standard. Here is what a typical interview line-up would be:
      1. Recruiter (initial phone interview)
      2. HR
      3. Hiring manager
      4. Hiring manager’s boss or department head
      5. Co-worker (technical) who will likely interact with this role
      6. Co-worker (non-non-technical) who will likely interact with this role
      7. CEO or other executive
      8. Hiring manager (second follow-up interview)

  54. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    Yeah, you’re going to have different folks with different preferences here. My current job took 6 30-60 minute interviews over 2 weeks, which I imagine would have been much easier for me if I could work from home more than I could at the time, but it was very difficult to have so many “appointments”. But, at the same time, there are people that would prefer that over the one half-day interview. Luckily my last job was pretty flexible and I didn’t get questioned, though I also was the first person in many years to leave for a new job.

    1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

      For the record, most of these were closer to 30 minutes or less than 60 minutes, and unless it was with the recruiter (who took 2 out of the 6) and with one exception (I think my two coworkers could have done my practical together instead of one doing the practical and the other asking me similar questions to my boss) they were good interviews! But… it was still iffy. It’s only been two weeks, so I can’t say whether that process = disorganization yet, but I’m sure the folks on the site here will know if I find out.

  55. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    6, 7, 8+ interviews for a job?!?!
    Kinda makes you wish that there was a 3 interview rule rather than a 3rd date rule, right?

  56. winger*

    It’s amazing how accustomed I have gotten to really prepared interviewers clearly telling me, at the end of the first meeting, “we will ask some candidates to come back for a second round, with me and X Y Z others, and then there will likely be a third round with the CEO, and we anticipate having someone in the role by May 15.”

    Having a fourth interview, and having them tell me there will be “at least” one more interview, would be a bit of a deal breaker.

  57. Lady*

    For me personally, I would just excuse myself from the process if I found it excessive for the position. I have a few things that are hardstops for me in an interview process for my industry and that’s one. Personality test are also a hard stop for me. Not because I’m bad at them. I just can’t respect people that can’t form opinions themselves and rely on an inconsistent test results. Because of that people are typically not very well matched to their positions.

    If you feel like something like this is excessive or a “hard stop” for you. Then it’s a red flag that’s not the place for you. No reason to work with them just move on.

    1. Ali + Nino*

      The worst “personality test” for me was when I was asked to submit two hand-drawn pictures of trees. One tree per picture. My initial submissions were rejected because I cited inspiration from specific paintings in “The Art Book” and…apparently these had to be my OWN drawings, NOT copies. No, the job had nothing to do with graphic design/illustration/literally anything where this could possibly be relevant. Though I was desperate at the time, I didn’t mind not getting that job.

  58. Jess*

    At my last company I (Lead Llama Groomer) had to report to the Manager of Grooming Services, and that position required 6 different interviews for a mid-level position. I had 5 managers in 3 years, and what that system did was filter for people who are really good at interviewing.

    1. Sarah*

      “what that system did was filter for people who are really good at interviewing”

      Bingo.

  59. JourneyOfMan*

    I had a Loop series of interviews that made no sense. First, a phone interview with the lowest level HR person. Then, an in-person high-level interview. Finally, a Skype interview with both of them at a conference table with what I can only imagine was my giant visage staring down at two people from a monitor high up on a wall. They then proceeded to ask exactly what each had asked me at the last interviews. It was so bizarre that my frustration must have come through since I did not get that job.

  60. Heather*

    I was cofused, does the OP mean 7 rounds of interviews like a day with 30 min interviews with each of 7 people, or a multi-hour block of interviewing…and then do that 7 times? The former I would say is typical in my experience, the latter would be excessive.

    At my company (a large manufacturing company), I’ve sat on a number of interview panels since I joined. The “onsite” (Zoom) interview panel is usually about 5 or 6 one-on-ones for 45 mins each. We need to get feedback from stakeholders in multiple groups that would work with the candidate. Each interviewer brings a different perspective, so yeah, they may ask some of the same questions but take away slightly different things. Sometimes the panel reconvenes to share feedback and for various reasons we realize we really need to add one more interviewer to be able to make an informed decision. We’re engineers, not professional interviewers – each interviewer can only learn so much in one time slot, so hopefully we can pool our impressions and make a good decision.

  61. Chauncy Gardener*

    So maybe this won’t be a popular opinion, but at my company we do 4 or 5 rounds. We are an entirely remote/distributed company, and it REALLY matters that the candidate be a good fit and that they and we know it. Our interviews consist of hiring manager, founder (we are a small company), two other managers, the CFO/HR and then usually a peer conversation. The peer meeting is NOT an interview, but a chance for the candidate to ask questions about a “day in the life” etc. All interviews are set up to flow both ways so we interview each other to ensure that we ALL understand roles, culture, expectations, etc.
    The hiring manager is supposed to discuss the process up front with the candidate to set expectations and why we do this interview process. We also coordinate questions amongst the interviewers so it’s not the same damn thing all over again for the candidate. The feedback thatI have received, even from candidates who turned our offer down (2 of 13 in the past 12 mos), was that they loved our process and felt like they knew us and once they were hired it made the onboarding so much easier. I personally think this is how it should be done.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Why can’t some of these interviews, such as the 2 managers, be combined?

  62. Sarah*

    We do 4 regularly. 1. HR phone screen, 2. Hiring manager 3. Interview panel of 3 or 4 managers in adjacent departments 4. Coworker panel- folks at approximately the same level who can answer the interviewees questions.

    Anything at VP and above has a much more extensive process

  63. Wesley*

    Is this a USA-specific thing? The idea of doing more than two interviews for anything other than a high-up exec or CEO is insane in Australia – I’ve started two mid-level roles in the past year and both consisted of one half-hour interview.

    1. Gracely*

      Definitely not a USA specific thing. More than 2 interviews for most job is not the norm here.

  64. Christine*

    I am also interviewing and this problem is OUT OF CONTROL. For one job, I’ve done seven and just got asked to schedule an eighth; and for another I’ve done four and just got told I’m now invited to “start the series of four new interviews. These are well established organizations you would recognize the names of; for manager or director level roles.

    It must be the remote/zoom thing because I’ve never seen anything like it and it’s horrible. I’m exhausted before I even start, and I’m honestly so resentful of the process it’s hard to stay excited. These companies are totally abusing the remote option and I really hope this is a short lived trend.

    1. Allison*

      Yep, this, 100%. It’s been absolutely exhausting. And, a bunch of companies are asking for case studies and/or presentations to be prepared as well.

  65. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    This is so relatable. I just went thru 2 interview processes that took 4+ weeks and was moving at the same pace for each. Had to use my lunch hour for remote interviews and I’m exhausted. I spent 2 days on a project for one company and made it to the next interview but wasn’t a top 2 finalist. I still want a new job but it’s an exhausting process. Employers, please make it shorter. (And please look at existing projects, because I can’t take 2 days off work each time an employer wants a sample).

  66. I just work here*

    OMG, this is like my nightmare….I’ve worked in HR in the past and there are some managers that have no sense of urgency…I think they just enjoy the process of meeting interesting and competent candidates… they lose really good people because of this.

    After having a candidate come for 7 interviews, it’s time for HR to put their foot down and tell the hiring manager to make a decision–yes or no. If the Congress can “hire” a Supreme Court Justice after a week of interviews, surely you can hire an employee to do XYZ after 7 interviews.

  67. Cam*

    At my job we do an interview with a panel of three (1 hour), a test (20 mins) and a tour of the department (10 minutes).
    At most you would be here an hour. We don’t do a screening call or anything like that because whether they have the right qualifications and background should be in the application form and cover letter (only 500 words) that we ask for. We would only do more interviews/visits if the candidate asked. They’re given a number and email to get in touch with for extra questions and we’ve had people come for another visit before and/or after their interview because they wanted to have another look, but it would be purely for the candidate’s sake.
    If anybody wanted me for interviews/tests for more than a morning I wouldn’t go any further. But maybe this is just my industry.

  68. HM*

    A perspective from having recently hired for a position: we used to have a 3-step interview process that stretched out over about 3-4 weeks. But we kept losing great candidates between rounds 1 and 2, or 2 and 3. We changed our interview process to shorten the whole process to about 7-10 days. All that to say, with the tight hiring market right now, companies are learning this process isn’t sustainable and refining on their own.

  69. Jennifer*

    I feel like a lot of people are maybe forgetting how long many in-person interviews used to be? Like, sure, I have 6 45min (on average) remote interviews for a company… but that’s a total of 4.5 hours. I don’t have to travel at all and I can spread them out for one each day (which makes it easier to do without making my current job any the wiser). In the past, I would have either a full-day or half-day interview (4-6.5 hrs) in addition to the recruiter screen and likely a hiring manager screen.

  70. Liz*

    I had to do this once too. I was interviewing for a job years ago that was beginning to drag into month 3 of interviewing. While I know that’s not terribly unusual for some companies, I only had one or two actual interviews but kept being asked to come in for additional meetings. At the time I was working at a horrible company and did not want to disrupt the interview process. But when you have to take off work several times in a short period, factor in a 35+ min drive, and try to remain discreet about it – all for what ended up being 15min “update” conversations (shorter than the actual drive) – yea it becomes almost impossible to continue that.
    I ended up politely asking for any further conversations to be over the phone, as it was becoming difficult to continue taking time off work without raising suspicion. They agreed – but a bit too late. Because their process dragged on so long, I ended up receiving and accepting an offer from another company shortly after.

    I get some companies require a lengthy interview process, but if it’s not necessary, employers will lose out on good candidates if they don’t respect their time.

  71. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    In my industry, doing around 7 – 8 interviews was standard in the Before Times. And it was always NUTS! I had always been very vocal internally about how that was way too many interviews. But it’s just “how things are done”, and yes, there is a problem with the consensus thing – especially the dreaded cultural consensus. But it was that way for well over a decade. Now, the job market in my industry in my location is so red hot for job seekers – salaries have increased, titles are too high, and the average number of interviews has dropped slightly out of employer desperation, but is still at least 5.

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