how many interviews are too many?

A reader writes:

I’ve seen a lot of questions on your site about interviewees who feel that the interview process is too lengthy or burdensome, which got me thinking about my practices as a hiring manager and how many interviews will scare off strong candidates. This 2016 letter writer from the archives was subjected to 10+ interviews, which is clearly unreasonable. This letter writer from 2013 thought four was unreasonable.

My team is currently recruiting for a mid-level role with:

1. Short recruiter phone screen
2. 45-60 minute video interview with hiring manager
3. Either (depending on whether candidate is local):
(a) In-person two-hour interview with up to four team members (separately) plus a short 30-minute interview with hiring manager (for in-person introductions and follow-up questions)
(b) 30-minute phone interviews with up to four team members (for this, we usually shoot for a two-hour chunk of time to get them all done at once, but sometimes it is more spread out if interviewers have conflicts at those times)

Some candidates would count this process as up to seven interviews, but I think of it as a three-step process. How many interviews do you think is ideal, and how has this changed with the normalization of video interviewing?

If that’s three separate appointments — the phone screen, the hiring manager meeting, and the more complicated step 3 — it’s perfectly fine.

But step 3 gets tricky. If step 3 all happens in one appointment, great. But if it gets spread out into four separate calls … then yeah, you’ve got a seven-step process and that’s too much. In that case, you’re asking people to carve out time from their current schedules seven separate times (in addition to other interviews they’re likely conducting). It’s often much harder for people to do that than to just take PTO for a half day and get it all done in one swoop.

And it’s not just that. It’s pretty common for people to spend time preparing before each interview (going over their “tell me about a time when…” examples, practicing how they’ll handle a particularly tricky question, etc.) so you’re asking people to do that prep seven times. It’s too much.

I think you’ve got to commit to making step 3 happen all in the same chunk of time, even if it means involving fewer team members in that step. (I’m also curious how you handled this before Zoom interviews became so ubiquitous! I’m betting you wouldn’t have asked people to come to your office four separate times for part 3.)

If you can’t do that, at least make sure you’re laying out the whole process at the beginning so that people know what to expect and aren’t thinking midway through, “When is this going to end?” But it is indeed going to read as seven interviews, and that’s a lot to ask.

As for how many interviews is ideal in general … it depends on the job. More senior positions typically need more interviews, but that should mean two or three (maybe four for very tricky positions and/or roles with a lot of stakeholders), not five plus. Virtual interviewing has made it easier/more convenient on the employer’s side, but on the candidates’ side, you’ve still got the issues above with carving out time from existing jobs and all the prep time involved. Plus, for people who aren’t working from home, finding a private area to do multiple interviews during the workday can be pretty onerous. So employers need to be really careful not to fall into thinking they can ask more and more just because candidates aren’t traveling to them.

{ 248 comments… read them below }

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      This is what I was going to ask. I had an on-site interview years ago set like step 3, where I was there for about half a day (so had to quickly take off work) and met separately with four different people, who basically asked all the same things. By the time I got to the last one, the hiring manager, I was super burnt out and kinda over it. I didn’t get the job.

      1. World Weary*

        This happened to me. I interviewed with six people. I was given no water, nor a bathroom break. The last interview of the day was the technical interview, which I blew. It was 2 pm by the start, and in the period I would have had a snack and lunch and been about ready for a second snack, so my blood sugar was way too low. It would have been better for everyone to have the technical interview first, and two or three panel interviews for the rest.

        I didn’t get the job and wasn’t sorry.

        1. Janet Holmes*

          I’ve gone through some fairly lengthy and intense interview processes, and I think the OP’s plan could work with some tweaks.

          1. Cut down the hiring manager’s first interview to 45 minutes.
          2. Pair interviewers for 45 minute interviews with a plan so that each pair covers distinct areas so there is no overlap between the two 45-minute interviews. If there is going to be a technical interview it should be the first interview in the pair. (And make sure there’s a break in between if they happen on one day.)
          3. The final interview should be short (30-45 minutes).

          Make sure the candidate is advised of the plan no later than after a decision is made to advance the candidate past the screening interview.

    2. High Score!*

      A panel interview can feel like a 4 against 1. Some time in a panel interview is fine but the candidate should get some one on one time with possible team members as well.
      I’d prefer zoom over phone interviews being a visual person.

      1. Lucia Pacciola*

        I kinda feel like if a panel interview feels like 4 against 1, there’s something wrong with the team, or with the candidate. Where is “against” coming from? These are people I expect to interact with as a group, working together in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. That’s not an adversarial situation, and there shouldn’t be anything adversarial about the interview process. If I feel like interviewing with a group is being ganged up on, how can I possibly expect to work in that group without feeling ganged up on?

        1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

          Agreed. I love panel interviews. Aside from the people making the decision all getting the same information, it provides for a much more relaxed, conversational atmosphere where people can interact vs. a 1:1 “grilling.”

          1. Just Another Zebra*

            So I’ve had both experiences. I recently did a panel-style interview, and it felt VERY adversarial. It was an uncomfortable experience, and I think it had more to do with the attitudes of those on the panel than myself. I was offered the job, but turned it down because I was so uncomfortable.

            But I’ve also had panel interviews that were great! They were relaxed and I felt like I got a better view of the culture of the company, rather than just having a one on one. So I think they have value on both sides, when done correctly.

            1. Chilipepper Attitude*

              I’d argue that the panels worked just how they should – you found one team adversarial and learned it was not for you.

              1. MM*

                I agree. Talking to a group gives you a chance to see how they interact with each other, which can tell you more than “I got a weird vibe from this conversation but maybe it’s just that person, or maybe said individual was having a bad day, or…”

                1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

                  YES! Especially when the panel is made up of people on the team you’ll be working with watching them interact can give you so much insight to how they will work with you/together.

            2. Rain's Small Hands*

              I’ve had both adversarial and non adversarial panel interviews (including one where I sat across the table from six guys and the first thing one of them said was “HR said we needed to interview a woman”). I’m an introvert and connect better with people one on one, so I much prefer one on one interviews – even if the panel is friendly. And the size of the panel matters as well, sitting down with two people is different than sitting across the table from six.

          2. ISP*

            Panels are ok with a reasonable number of members. Once I was interviewing for a marketing manager job – step 1 the hiring manager step 2 panel interview with 21 people. I kid you not – 21!!!!!
            They were nice but clearly an unmanageable process. I withdrew my application at that point.

            1. The Real Fran Fine*

              I don’t blame you – 21 people in an interview is insane and a horrible use of the employees time. I also doubt you were the only one that noped out.

            2. 15 Pieces of Flair*

              This reminded me of a toxic former employer that had applicants interview in front of the entire team of 12 people as a final step. I was offered the job on the spot after the second interview and thereby bypassed that gauntlet. When I saw the final interview as a participant, I was horrified by the dynamic of the group grilling/jury trial. Fortunately anyone who failed the large group interview was spared the ongoing hostility of working at that organization.

          3. L-squared*

            Getting all the same information is one of the reasons I prefer a panel, or at least doubling up and only having 2 instead of 4.

            For one, you just don’t really know if you are just seeing things different, or they actually answered and were different. I’ve been on hiring committees, and the differences people who talk separately can have can be huge. There have been people I loved that others hated, and their complaints sounded like a totally different person. If its 4 separate conversations, its much harder to gauge why that might be.

          4. Another freelancer*

            I had both a panel interview and a series of one on one interviews with the same company for the same role. It was…interesting and I didn’t get the job. That being said I would rather have a panel than a series of one on ones. As others have said you can get so burned out by being asked the same questions over and over in a two hour timeframe. So tedious.

        2. sofar*

          Yeah, I’d also prefer a panel interview. The main reason is that people always ask the saaaammme questions and you end up having to answer the same questions over and over again. If you have a panel of, say, four, those four people can glean your answers from a question someone else asked without having to ask it again.

          1. michelenyc*

            So totally agree. For my last position I went through a ridiculous interview process but it was 2020 during the height of Covid. I was asked the same questions over at least 7 interviews. In hind site I should have run far, far away but given the uncertainty of the pandemic I chalked up it to getting through the new normal. I was so wrong, so very wrong. Red flags are red flags and I will never ignore them again.

        3. The Real Fran Fine*

          All of this. I’ve done many panel interviews over my 12+ year career – at no point did I feel ganged up on. In fact, there were times where I was on a panel with someone I really didn’t gel with, but had others there who were nice and calming, which made me relax in turn and perform up to my usual best standards.

        4. Smitty*

          Not adversarial, but for people with anxiety, having four people interview you at once can feel quite different than just one person.

    3. ferrina*

      That was my thought process too! I usually have this as 30-60 minute panel interview–30 minutes if it’s with people that will be their co-workers and I just want to make sure that no one hates them; 60 minutes if it’s with SMEs who will be assessing knowledge/skills as well as fit.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Higher ed is notorious for getting its money’s worth* in the interview process. Typically, there will be a phone screen/zoom meeting with either the search committee or possibly HR that’s an hour or so. Then finalists are invited to campus (or do a series of Zoom meetings, depending on pandemic/location/travel budgets) for a half-day or full day of interviews with various team members, supervisors, students, and other colleagues around the university. Some of those are panels, a lunch meeting, some are 1:1, and there might be a presentation to a group as well, depending on the role.

        But, yeah, it’s generally all done at one time so that the person doesn’t have to keep making trips to campus or carving out time to meet during multiple days.

        *My personal record for a 1-day interview was interacting with 53 people. My personal record for length of interview process on-campus was 2.5 days.

        1. Anne of Green Gables*

          Yes, this is pretty much how we do it at my community college, and I’m not in a faculty department. We have typically a 90 minute session with the formal hiring committee, if it’s a degree-required position there will be a presentation, then sessions with small groups of people–typically a group of peers and then the admin team. If it’s on-site, there may be lunch as well. We tell people before scheduling about how many hours to allow. This is for the in-person or 2nd stage; for most positions we do a first round phone screen first, which is either 30 or 60 minutes depending on position. So two different times someone needs to schedule/take time off, but that second one includes multiple sessions.

        2. Nesprin*

          I had a 2 day interview which involved 17 different 1:1 meetings at 30 min a pop and 2 hour-long presentations. Not sure I hit 53 but omfg was it too much.

          1. rayray*

            that is absolutely insane. Why is it so tough for employers to make a decision anymore?

            I wouldn’t be surprised if they did this to multiple people and still didn’t pick anyone and then complained there are no good candidates anymore.

        3. DogTrainer*

          Yes, I just did this! It was a 9-hour day of back-to-back interviews, meals with students, and presentations. I was exhausted by noon and just wanted to die.

          They had originally also requested a dinner with the search committee for that same evening (so, like a 12-13 hour day), and I declined due to other plans. They did, however, schedule that meal for another evening.

          This was wild to me.

          1. anona-ope*

            I am a strong public speaker and crowd-worker, I don’t have any reservations about being one-on-many or anything like that, and academic interviews absolutely DRAIN me. My partner knew to give me a wide berth after one because I needed quiet and recharging, and I frequently said I had no idea how my more introverted / less crowd-confident colleagues managed if that was what it did to me.

            Thankfully no longer in academia, but govt hiring was certainly it’s own gauntlet in a way as well!

        4. Esmeralda*

          Right. Plus (before Covid) breakfast with students, lunch with some other group, dinner with the search committee and a few others, sometimes a reception or cocktail party to which grad students are invited , time sitting in an office where anyone who couldn’t come to anything else can show up and yap at you.


    4. darlingpants*

      Virtual panel interviews are hard to run well in my experience: everyone’s always talking over each other. Plus the best way to have the interviewee get real answers to sensitive culture questions is to have them talking to a peer-level interviewer with no management in the zoom/room.

      But for my field, mid/mid-senior level candidates (aka anyone with a PhD) does at least this + an hour research presentation so I’m a little biased.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Either everyone’s talking over each other, or everyone’s on mute and only unmute to ask the formal questions. Either way it’s a really difficult atmosphere as a candidate!

      2. MsSolo UK*

        I think if you’re going to be working remotely, a remote panel interview tells you a lot about how well the organisation handles remote meetings. If they’re talking over each other or it’s really stilted, or if the panel are all together in person and you’re not and you have to keep asking them to speak into the mic etc, then you get a sense of what being remote at that org is going to be like.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is what we do for our Step 3, and we also try to put it immediately after the meeting with the hiring manager (but we don’t care about in-person, unless the candidate does). If the hiring manager is 100% no on the candidate, then we have the option to can the team interviews.

      The head of HR at my last company was one of those people who felt candidates needed to show how much they wanted the job by coming back multiple times – drove me nuts and lost me a few very good candidates who had jobs they didn’t want to take time off from multiple times. They also refused to disclose salary until the offer process, which was a waste of everyone’s time – she was under this misguided impression that someone would interview and be so blown away that they’d want the job so badly they’d take anything to do it. Where I work now, the salary is discussed in the initial recruiter call to make sure we’re on the same page.

    6. DataSci*

      At my company the four half-hour interviews (which are always back to back, with a short break at the halfway point) cover different areas. As long as they’re back to back, how does it benefit the candidate to have all four people in the room the whole time?

      1. Edge Witch*

        A lot of the questions are going to be repeated across each interview, which right of the bat can feel at least mildly disrespectful of the candidate’s time. It can also be really useful to get a sense of the group’s dynamic.

        On the flip side, what’s the benefit to the employer to have four 30-minute interviews instead of one 1-hour interview? Do all four interviewers have entirely separate areas of expertise and lines of questioning, or does it just boil down to the individual time commitment for each interviewer, or are there also four candidates being interviewed at the same time and they rotate or something?

        1. DataSci*

          That’s a huge assumption that the questions are going to be duplicated, and not one I’ve ever encountered, on either side of the table. The whole point of pulling in more people is to assess skills in different areas. Duplicate questions means poor planning, not that the setup is fundamentally flawed. So yes, all four interviewers have different areas of expertise and lines of questioning – if they didn’t, you wouldn’t set it up like this.

          1. A Person*

            I agree with DataSci here (not a big surprise since I’m in analytics) – we have an interview process really similar to OP’s (I think it’s 3 instead of 4) and have really clear cut different interviews. For example:
            * Cross team communication and culture fit (30 mins)
            * Technical interview with peer (45 mins)
            * Less technical but job related interview (30 mins)

            We also make sure everyone knows the questions different people will ask and limit duplications.

    7. learnedthehardway*

      It can be hard to schedule that many people at the same time, and it can feel very much like an interrogation vs. an interview. That said, sometimes it’s necessary.

    8. Educator*

      I agree that a panel is the way to go. Appointing one panel member as the facilitator responsible for introducing everyone, watching the time, prompting other panelists to ask about predetermined topics, and facilitating who answers candidate questions really helps panel interviews feel focused and sets a positive, non-adversarial tone.

      I like panels as a hiring manager because I have found my colleagues notice really different things in candidate answers than I do, so debriefing with all the panelists helps me evaluate candidates more comprehensively. I am always trying to remove any of my personal implicit biases from the hiring process, and having different perspectives on the panel is a great way to do that.

    9. Esmeralda*

      That’s what we do. Initial zoom screening interview (30 min) with the search committee.

      Second round is about 2-1/2 hr. One hour with search committee, about 45 min for a presentation to the department and answering questions about the presentation, 30 minutes w hiring officer. Breaks between each of the three components.

      Good candidates will have prepared questions to ask us. We do evaluate the quality of the questions asked by candidates as these will give us insight into candidates’ thinking and values.

      We welcome follow up questions from candidates after the interview (email or phone).

    10. allathian*

      The last time I interviewed for a new job, I had a 15-minute phone screen, and then a panel interview on-site with the hiring manager, team lead, and two peers. It was a discussion rather than an interrogation. The hiring manager asked most of the questions, the others were there to answer any questions I might have about the job itself. The interview was scheduled for 90 minutes, but it ran almost 45 minutes over time and the hiring manager was in no hurry to end the interview. I guess I was lucky that they hadn’t scheduled another interview right afterwards. I got on the shortlist, and was asked to take a test for the job, but they decided to hire someone else.

      I’ve also been on a panel to interview someone who would be my coworker, doing the same job, and it was an interesting experience.

    11. Yellow+Flotsam*

      I did an interview day of small interviews for one job. When I got the schedule it was a bit panic inducing – but it turned out so much better than a panel!

      I’ve found panel interviews give you very little insight into a company/work, and the higher ups are always there. One-on-one I could ask more questions, and speak with people more at my own level, hear so much more about the place and have better opportunity to have real topic discussions rather than “tell me about a time”.

      But I do wish I knew more about the style of the interview going in, and if these had been spread out that would have been very painful. If nothing else I only owned one set of interview clothes and could only take so much leave.

  1. Ann Nominous*

    ‘Mid-level’ means different things to different people, but just initially this seems like a bit much. Why are the step 3 interviews seperate? Could they all meet with the candidate at the same time? Unless they are wildly different in scope (like a technical interview with your engineering team followed by a more broad interview with the direct manager) I would imagine the questions would have plenty of overlap.

    1. Koalafied*

      My company uses a similar process, and the reason why Step 3 is separate is because not everyone from Step 2 advances to Step 3.

      Typically for us, the process looks like:
      1) Phone screen with HR person to verify basic fit and alignment on salary
      2) Interview with hiring manager
      3) Interviews with hiring manager’s manager + peers

      I’ve yet to see anyone not make it from the Step 1 to Step 2, because HR only screens candidates that the hiring managers tell them to screen, so the manager has essentially already decided to conduct the Step 2 interview before the Step 1 phone screen even happens. Unless it comes out in the phone screen that the candidate wildly misrepresented their background or there’s a big divide on salary, they’re going to interview that person.

      Step 3 interviews are for finalists – sometimes it’s two or three finalists and the hiring manager will use feedback from the Step 3 interviews to help make their decision. Other times, it’s just one finalist and Step 3 interviews are so that 1) someone above the manager has a chance to intervene if they see the manager is unlawfully discriminating, engaging in nepotism, or just making an extremely bad choice, and 2) as someone said above, make sure their prospective coworkers don’t immediately hate them.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Oh, then I am going to ask you the question about Zoom that Alison put in her reply.
        How did the growth and normalizing of Zoom meetings change your final step?
        Was it previously panel or individual?

        1. Koalafied*

          Didn’t change much at all – it was always back to back panels. But we’re a large international organization, so even though we became a lot more remote-first/office-optimal during the pandemic, we also already had systems in place for teams that were spread across multiple locations.

          In the before times the candidates were usually local to the office the department was headquartered in, so the panel interview would have had the candidate coming to the office in person, and some panel interviewers would have been physically in the room with them and some on the big v-con screen that all our conference rooms have been equipped with since the mid-00s. Nowadays we don’t have the candidate come in person, and if 2+ panel members are in the same office that day, or any of them are too junior to have an office with a door they can shut, they can book a conference room on their own to use, but it’s just as likely to be a mix of panel members dialing in from home or from multiple different offices.

      2. DataSci*

        I’ve removed myself from consideration after the HR screening more than once. One time the recruiter misrepresented an in-person position in another city as fully remote, once it was salary disconnect, once it was general fit (they wanted startup hours, I didn’t.)

      3. Kat*

        Yes, I work for a multinational engineering consultancy and we use the same process. Ideally in person for step 2 and 3, but also common to do them over Teams either because of covid or distance.

    2. Koalafied*

      Ah, and I’ve just realized you probably meant, why are the Step 3 interviews conducted as four separate interviews, rather than why is Step 3 separate from Step 2!

      Yeah, I’d echo that. In our Step 3 it’s just two interviews: one with the manager’s manager (and sometimes that manager’s manager, too), and one with their prospective peers, 45 minutes each and scheduled back to back.

      1. Ann Nominous*

        Yep that’s what I meant! I get having the 3 steps. I was more confused about why so many individual interviews rather than combining them into 1 or maybe 2 back-to-back meetings.

  2. ggg*

    I do not find panel interviews to work as well as one-on-ones. But it is key that every interviewer knows what role they are playing in the process. They should definitely not all be asking the same questions.

    1. Marie*

      “Every interviewer knows what role they are playing”

      This is really important- are you sure all four individuals are needed in separate interviews? Are you having four interviews because you’ve always done it that way, or because there’s valuable information being gathered in each interview?

      1. High Score!*

        If they are taking turns, that also gives the candidate a chance to talk to more team members. It’s good for both sides.

        1. Pineapple Countess*

          If the person will work with different departments it can be helpful to get different perspectives. One-on-one interviews allow more informal discussion and follow-up questions on both sides. It’s harder to get that with a panel interview.

      2. ferrina*

        Agree. What are each of these people bringing?

        Usually when I see this, it’s with the team that the person will be hired onto. You don’t need separate interviews for that- that is just to make sure that no one hates this person (especially if it’s junior staff who are new to interviewing). That’s generally 30-45 minutes on a panel interview, followed by a gut check.

        Once I saw this where the role would span multiple departments, so multiple stakeholders were doing interviews to assess skills across each of their areas. This ultimately ended up being a waste of time, as none of the interviewers could agree on what skills were the most important, or even what the role would ultimately look like. (Sorry to all the candidates who had to participate in those shenanigans!)

        This does make sense if the role will need to manage some political intricacies- I’ve seen this type of process for a public-facing Director who had to manage some, er, interesting personalities. But that was a final day-long interview, and only the top two candidates went to that stage (that role also was six-figures+)

        1. ggg*

          We like to have new entry level hires talk with a junior person one-on-one (or sometimes two junior people together) — someone who has the job they are applying for. This gives the candidate a chance to learn about the day-to-day work and to ask questions that they would not necessarily ask managers or senior people.

          FWIW when I interviewed nearly 20 years ago, the process took two full days and I spoke with 18 separate people. That was excessive.

        2. Eyes Kiwami*

          This happened to me as a candidate. The role worked with multiple teams in multiple regions, stretching out the interview process over 5+ separate meetings, and no one had the same idea of what the role would look like. It was exhausting and took months to plan everything, even doing everything by Zoom. The final interview had someone barely relevant to the job asking me to walk them through my resume, which they had in front of them, which I had already explained in more detail to a dozen other people!

          I ended up going with another offer. It would be exhausting to work there!

      3. ThatGirl*

        My current job had a similar process to the one laid out above (this was Dec 2020, for the record) – I had a phone screen, a phone interview with the hiring manager, a writing exercise, then Zoom interviews with about 7 people, split into groups of 1 or 2. Normally the last step would have been me sitting in a room while people came in and out but instead it was split over 2 days because of vacation schedules. It was a lot, but they did move pretty quickly. The reason for having short interviews with so many people was that they wanted me to talk to a lot of folks I’d be working with. And it made sense when I started – it’s an extremely collaborative department that values consensus.

      4. Triplestep*

        Some interviewers are only there so that they can feel like they’ve had a say. This is without value to the hiring manager. That said, it can be valuable to the candidate to assess fit (i.e. these are the people I’d be working with every day – any red flags?)

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      Curious what your purpose is with panels vs 1-1.

      We use panels so that 4 different individuals are assessing the candidate and scoring them. We use panels so we can see if the candidate does things like only look the men in the eyes or only treat to the person in uniform like they’re important.

      We find they work very well.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Or if they use a mild curse word and look at the woman present to apologize for their foul language (rolls eyes)

    3. HedgehogOBrien*

      Oh man, panel interviews are so hit and miss. When they’re done well, I like them both on the hiring side and on the candidate side because multiple members of a team can meet the candidate in a shorter amount of time. If you take turns asking questions and everyone knows what role they’re playing I think they work. They can also feel more like a conversation and less like an interview, which I think encourages people to be more natural.

      When done badly though, like anything I guess, they can be super painful. The worst panel interview I was ever on, if you can even call it that, was for an executive level position, with the hiring committee of like 15 people and the CEO. Only the CEO asked questions and everyone else just sat there sort of nodding. It was sooo uncomfy.

    4. irritable vowel*

      Yeah, agreed. If each of those interviewers in Step 3 is asking the “tell me about a time when things didn’t go well” type questions, that’s pointless and those people should all be part of a panel interview. If they truly need to get at different aspects of a candidate’s expertise/qualifications, then they should be coached beforehand to ask questions that are specific to those needs.

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      In my experience, panels are less likely to ask the same question over and over whereas, with one-on-ones where the interviewer didn’t see the last discussion their teammate and the candidate had, they tend to cover the same ground. All of them are going to want similar information, and the idea of dividing up questions so no one’s asking the same ones seems like it would leave you with each member of the team having only a fraction of the information they might want.

      The panels also give the candidate an opportunity to see how the team interacts with one another. For some of my highly-collaborative teams, this can be helpful to assess whether that’s a group you’re comfortable working with 8 hours a day/5 days a week.

      Either format, poorly implemented, is going to be ineffective, but I find that the panels work best for team interviews, with the right guidance and pointers.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed – panel interviews work best for when you want the candidate to present to an audience representing different functional areas, and follow that up with some questions.

      Sequential interviews need to be planned out so the interviews aren’t redundant.

  3. Elle*

    I went through the interview process where I met with several team members separately. They all asked the same questions and it was redundant. I had trouble telling the same stories over and over again and it probably made me seem unenthusiastic. I didn’t get the job.

    1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      I once called in work late to do an in-person interview- and the hiring manager didn’t tell me I’d need to fill out an application onsite, meet with her, and then meet (independently) with three other people. It took almost three hours and I was fuming by the time I left- everyone asked the same questions (and commented how they didn’t want to take up my time because they knew I took off work!). I didn’t get the job, but to be fair, I don’t know if I would have wanted to work there anyway- the hiring process was such a disorganized mess that I’m not sure I’d have wanted to deal with them every day anyway.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        I had a similar experience interviewing with a pretty well known manufacturing company with a heavy tech bent, and I ended up choosing my current company to work for instead partially due to the fact that they kept me at the in-person interview (pre-COVID) nearly four hours when I was told I’d only be there two hours tops. They were completely disorganized (I think their HR rep/recruiter was largely to blame for this, though) and no one bothered to adjust their Q&A times to make sure I could leave within a reasonable timeframe (they knew I was actively employed and had to take time off work I didn’t really have in the first place just to be there). Then they wanted me to speak to everyone and their mother, and I was over it, lol.

        1. Moo*

          yeah in my sector and country its normal to have panel interviews where there’s a chair, usually with a 10 minute presentation. The chair usually asks you the standard ‘talk us through your cv’ questions. And the other panel members (never more than 5 incl chair) split up the questions between them. They’re never longer than an hour, and they usually do their best to be nice, so when you have one that isn’t nice it’s a clear red flag.

          Maximum you might do 2 of these and if they have a recruiter, you might phone screen with them in advance, but you’re often appointed after one panel interview.

          The thing that boggles my mind when we talk about this here is that the country with the worst leave is the one that seems to require the most interviews, presumably requiring leave at short notice. I know its easier if you’re working remote and do a remote interview, but in all other cases, I presume you have to use up some of that valuable PTO, and I can’t imagine the personal cost of using up huge chunks for one potential job, when you might even be interviewing for several. I don’t know how people manage it. And I would also resent any company that made me do too many interviews.

          Here, they usually give you two weeks notice for the interview, so you can use your normal leave, or if it’s remote you can schedule. When we were more in person I’ve been fortunate to have jobs where I roamed about a bit so I was able to sneak away to nearby interviews as needed. I still remember one day returning back to my building and stopping to ‘freshen up’ and removed make up and messed up my hair so I wouldn’t look like I’d been interviewing! Anyone wearing a full formal suit was a dead giveaway!

  4. TamsinH*

    Are the team members in step 3 included in the decision making? If not then I don’t think step 3 is needed. I’ve had hiring managers want to do the whole team thing, my advice has always been unless your team are making the decision then it’s an unnecessary step (& time consuming) for all involved.

    You could give the candidates the option of meeting some of the team, say a quick 15 minute call/zoom/off site coffee chat, which can be beneficial for the candidate to get a feel for their potential new team (and same for your employees). But as the hiring manager I think you should know who would fit well into your team.

    1. YellowJello*

      It seems this has become more common as companies try to have a more diverse group of people involved in the hiring process. If the top two people are, say, both white or both men then those are the only types of people who decide who gets hired. That’s not good!

      But companies should also make the process less onerous.

    2. Anonym*

      I think it’s important for candidates to be able to ask questions of their potential team to get a feel for the job from peers, and for the team members to weigh in on someone they’d work closely with. There are limits, of course, many well explained by Alison and other commenters, but it’s definitely valuable for both sides. Essentially, I share your premise – I think the team should be involved in the interview specifically because they should be part of the decision making.

      I wish I’d gotten to interview with peers for my current job. My teammates are awesome, but the job and the boss are not, and I would have been able to figure out at least some of that by talking to them.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      We get really positive feedback from candidates on letting them interview with members of the team (without a manager present) to be able to get the day-to-day, boots on the ground information.

      We don’t do the entire team, but we typically do a panel interview with 2-3 team members, preferably with the jobs. It does not happen often, but we will nix a candidate that the team is solidly opposed to hiring.

  5. CharlieBrown*

    I would really bail after my second 30-minute interview (part 3) if I just got asked all the same questions for the second time in a row.

    What is the purpose of having four different people conduct four different 30 minute interviews? I hope there is a plan and a structure for this and they are not just asking questions at random.

    1. Pool Lounger*

      My partner works for a big 5 company and most jobs require 3-4 30-45min interviews. Each person asks questions from a giant list, usually different questions. Then the 3-4 people get together and discuss and vote on the candidate. It’s usually scheduled so it’s one big chunk of time, especially if the candidate comes from outside the company.

    2. Kevin Sours*

      When I’ve done it, is been something like.
      * Development lead. Main interview hitting skills and team fit.
      * Manager. More general culture fit questions.
      * QA Rep. General “plays well with others” but mostly to allow the candidate to ask questions about QA process. Generally a shorter interview.
      * Project Manager. Same as QA.

      Might include a junior team member, primarily to allow candidate to ask questions they might not want to ask the lead.

      But, yes, trying to avoid overlap is a good idea.

  6. CheesePlease*

    I would manage the step 3 the same way as in-person or virtual – schedule 2 hrs of their time and have your team members on a panel or cycle in and out of a conference room.

    FWIW, this is similar to our hiring process for junior level technical roles (ex: 3-8 yrs experience) – a 20min HR phone screen (basic resume review, confirming role responsibilities and interests), 30min hiring manager phone screen (more specific to the job) and 1.5-2hr in-person interview with hiring manager, team and senior manager. Each interview is a gate process. So based on the HR phone screen, the hiring manager may or may not call the individual. And based on that phone screen, we may or may not bring them in person.

    1. Inkognyto*

      3-8years is junior technical?

      I’m in IT (specially InfoSec) and this baffles me.
      Junior is entry level which is 1-3 years.
      Once you are past 3 years you into mid level.
      Anything 10+ is Senior.

      1. CheesePlease*

        we’re a small org (manufacturing) so we have entry-level, junior-level, manager and senior. Those are not the official titles we use, but essentially junior is anyone who has some experience who isn’t going to be managing a team, or entering a senior role. We hire straight from college or internships for entry level, so 0-2 yrs experience.

  7. spcepickle*

    Please don’t make people interview with 4 people separately – I have done this by person 3 I am exhausted, I am answering the same questions over and over which makes me short. I think the best would be 1 hour with up to 3 people on a panel, plus an very informal interview with someone who is at the same level as the person you are hiring, so they can ask questions about what the job is really like.

    1. ferrina*

      It’s also really frustrating from an interviewer perspective. It wastes my time to have an interviewee who is clearly answering the same question for the third time, and I like seeing what follow-up questions the other interviewers ask.

      We used to do 30 minutes with hiring manager, then 30 minutes with two other senior team members (each of us would have 15-ish minutes to ask questions). No repeat questions, and you could build on each other’s questions. I was a top interviewer (it’s literally something I’m trained in and paid to do), and I could uncover different information than other interviewers. This meant that they got to see first-hand the same thing I did, which could make the difference between an offer and a No Thanks.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      Yeah, I am so over the standard “table stakes” screening questions in my field that I now burst into laughter when I hear them. I’ve been in my field for over 22 years, and they are asking me junior level screening questions that I only ever talk about in interviews! If it was about teapots, think “How do you pour tea out of a standard teapot? What is the correct water temperature to brew a plain black tea? What are different ways to measure water temperature?”

    3. rayray*

      I agree. It can also be rather jarring if the first two people are kind, polite, and professional and then the third person is rude and abrupt. I had a job interview once where the first two people were great but the third guy was kind of a jerk so not only was I getting burnt out repeating everything for a third time but getting flustered because he was a bit rude. That third person was the lasting impression on me and once I was sat for an assessment, I just didn’t care about the position anymore and basically BS’d through the assessment so I could just get it over with.

      1. darlingpants*

        Don’t you think it’s a good thing you interacted with the rude guy ahead of time though? Rather than just meet a key member of your team who turns out to be a jerk on your first day?

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          Rude guy could have been included in a panel interview with the first two so that even if rayray had gotten flustered by his behavior, the other two could have lessened the negative feeling, which would have allowed rayray to focus better on the assessment.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            I think darlingpants’ point is that rayray knew there was a jerk on the team before getting hired, and having to deal with said jerk on a daily basis.

  8. A Little Bit Alexis*

    OP, unless step 3 is a panel interview (and it sounds like it’s not) then this sounds pretty unreasonable. If I were a candidate for this position, this would actually be a red flag to me about the company itself: four separate interviews with different team members that all hold the same rank? I’d imagine each of those four interviews would not be substantively different from one another, so what’s the utility behind it? It would not bode well to me about the company’s ability to have a focused, organized process in determining best candidates, and would raise my worries that the org more broadly has a culture issue given that so many cooks are allowed in the kitchen, so to speak. I can’t tell if these 4 team members interviewing are equal in rank to the role being hired or not, but an interview with the team lead, rather than the team members, might make more sense. Or, if that’s not possible, a panel interview with the other team members. But multiple separate interviews with different persons that all hold the same role (team member) is a waste of both sides’ time since it’s not going to net you any additional information about the candidate– information that could be discerned from a panel interview just as easily– and is not just likely, but almost certain, to frustrate any candidate on top of it.

    1. somanyquestions*

      Four 2-hour interviews as just one stop of this process sounds insane to me. They’re asking people to give up an enormous amount of time. If these are jobs where people are making hundreds of thousands of dollars and have great responsibility, sure, but I get the impression this is just the standard system and the OP thinks it’s reasonable.

  9. sav*

    “employers need to be really careful not to fall into thinking they can ask more and more just because candidates aren’t traveling to them.”

    1000x this! It is so important to remember that just because something is easier on your end, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easier for the other person!

    1. KRM*

      I had interviews with 6 different people (well, 5 individuals and 1 panel of people) for CurrentJob, but they were all scheduled on the same day so I got to just take one day off. And I liked that they built in free time, I was able to get a cup of coffee, take the dog out quickly, grab a snack, and not worry about being late for the next one. I do realize that may seem like a lot for some, but for me it’s great because I got to talk to a bunch of people about their specific research, and then the head of the department about how he runs things. So at least in science I feel like it can be beneficial to speak to a lot of different people, so you get a good idea of how the department works. It’s not *always* true–I once had a whole day interview where I spoke with (among other configurations) 3 different panels of people, none of whom would be in the department I’d work in, and they were all obviously not enthusiastic about being asked to do the interview. But that was a red flag in what turned out to be a day of red flags, so by the end it was clear that they had no idea how to run an effective department, much less an interview.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      This, all day long. I’m one of those people who still has an in person job, so even if it’s not a problem to carve out the time for the interview, finding a place to be while I sign in to zoom is tricky. The most secure place to not be overheard would be my car, but I can’t exactly slip out to the car for a two hour interview without people having questions.

  10. Fluffy Fish*

    So for me it’s not just # of contacts with your company before an offer, it’s the time spent.

    1 – phone screening is not normal in my industry, but that seems reasonable both in time and amount of effort required
    2- also, no problem with this in and of itself an hourish seems reasonable
    3- you’re starting to lose me here tbh – 2 hours during which i have to talk separately with 4 different people AND another 30 minutes talking to you when I just talked to you for an hour earlier?

    So for #3 I’m going to ask why. What is the purpose? Why is it necessary to talk to 4 different people? Why is it necessary to talk to them separately? What are you trying to glean from your candidate with this process?

    And I think that’s the crux of it, right? What are you trying to glean from candidates with your process and does the process actually reasonably accomplish that.

    Our process for just about all jobs except the very top most jobs in each division is (we interview all qualified candidates) –
    -Round one interview that’s usually a panel and any testing we require
    -Round two that may be just the manager
    – In extremely rare circumstances where it’s down to 2 super highly qualified candidates there might be one more discussion.

    That’s it. If we don’t get what we need from you after talking to you twice, more talking isn’t going to help.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      Yep. You’re losing me at step 3. Do all of these people simply not have some better way to spend their time? Unless they are people I am going to be working with, and have some voting authority as to whether or not I get the job, I just don’t see the point.

      1. ThatGirl*

        At my current job the people I talked to WERE all people I would be working with, and they didn’t get final say but their input was given to my hiring manager. YMMV of course.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          This is wild to me. We might have 1 person that would be a colleague, but vetting candidates through multiple people…why? I would hope the hiring manager knows who would be a good fit for their team.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Didn’t you answer this above though, saying “we use panels so we can see if the candidate does things like only look the men in the eyes or only treat to the person in uniform like they’re important”?

            1. Fluffy Fish*

              Yes I did. I was referring to our panel interview. I can see where it might be confusing but our panel interview aren’t made up of the candidates potential coworkers.

              I’m specifically talking about the concept of having multiple team members evaluate a candidate. That I don’t understand the purpose of.

          2. ThatGirl*

            All I can say is it fits with the company culture – they really value consensus. That is not always a good thing, but it is what it is.

    2. Gracely*

      Yeah, if you’re going to do step 3 this way, either do it as a panel, or cut back the number of people doing the interviews–and make sure they have a list of questions they’re looking for answers to in order to cut back on repetition. And don’t schedule over multiple days! If people doing interviews want to be involved in hiring, they have to prioritize that.

      Where I work, for non-faculty positions, we have the initial HR/phone screen (and this is short–never more than 10 minutes unless the candidate has a lot of questions). And then we have either a panel interview(with 1-3 people who need to ask technical/job specific questions agreed on ahead of time) that includes the hiring manager, OR a series of interviews (one after the other, scheduled as a block, so thus, one time) with the hiring manager at the end. So we essentially skip your step 2 by splitting it between steps 1 and 3. Then either later in the day or the next day, everyone separately re-ranks the candidates (so as not to bias each other going into the discussion), then everyone gets together and shares what they thought, good and bad, and that gives the hiring manager all they need to know.

      The hiring manager/committee should be doing the initial whittling down before hitting step 1. You rank who you’re interested in, hand the list to HR, and if someone decides the pay or benefits or whatever aren’t going to work at that stage, HR calls the next until there are 3-4 candidates for you to interview.

      1. Gracely*

        And I should note–if we’re doing the series of interviews option, those are usually 10 minutes–max 20 minutes, and preferably no more than an hour total of the interviewee’s time–including the hiring manager’s interview at the end. The panel option is never more than an hour unless the candidate has lots of questions

  11. Atlantis*

    I went through a job interview that sounds a lot like this, with the bonus of my own 45 minute presentation I did before the actual interviews. I’d say that if you’re doing it all at once, it’s at least reasonable if it’s your final step, you only subject your true final candidates to it, and you make it as efficient as possible (ie interviewers don’t have the same questions). If I had to take two or more separate time blocks to meet virtually with team members, I don’t know that I would have stayed in the process. I would limit your team members so if you have to have them, you make sure people can do it within a time frame, even if you only have 2-3 team members so you’re not demanding too much of your candidates time.

  12. Tio*

    Two hours of interviews with a rotating cast of members sounds like a LOT. What is the goal for having this many people step in and talk to the candidate, exactly? If it’s to get a feel of how the team likes them, this can probably be one 30 minute panel interview. If not – is this really necessary?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I have done the two-hours-four-people interview before on the candidate side and I thought they mostly worked well but with the caveats that:

      1 – the hiring manager was one of the four people, so there wasn’t a separate 45-60 min interview with the hiring manager

      2 – the people had different job functions and for the most part asked different questions

      Talking to four (potential) teammates for 30 min each probably would feel like a lot to me too.

    2. DataSci*

      You could ask without assuming the answer is stupid. It’s because for many roles, assessing their skills genuinely takes that long. Our four half-hour sessions (always back to back, with a short break halfway) for a data scientist include statistics and algorithms, tech stack and model deployment, stakeholder interactions, and general fit. There’s a lot to cover, and we’re far more likely to find that nobody has time to get to a particular issue than any duplication.

  13. Pineapple Countess*

    Depending on the position and the number of applicants, is there a way to combine steps #1 and #2? It’s more work for the hiring manager, but eliminates a step for candidates.

    Personally, I like the idea of having “first interviews” and “second interviews” on separate days. The first interview is technical “Can you do the job?” and the second interview is “Are you a good fit?” It gives the employer and candidate a chance to think about the questions and responses. (If I’m a candidate, I can ask why the questions focused on A and B, when the job description also includes C and D. I might not realize during the interview, but would think about it afterwards.)

    I agree that step #3 should be all on the same day and within the same general time period.

    I assume that the letter writer meant that there might be a break, but it would be the same day. For example, talk to Janet from 9:30 am – 10:00 am. Talk to Mark from 10:00 am -10:30 am. Take an hour break. Talk to Marissa from 11:30 am – noon.

  14. Goldenrod*

    I’d like to also say something about panel interviews! I once interviewed for a scheduler role which required a Zoom interview followed by a FULL DAY of interviews that included 2 separate panels. The 2 panels had, seriously, like 15 people each. But ONE key person joined both panels….which meant that I felt funny about repeating answers. (Oh, yeah, also, they didn’t coordinate their questions to make sure they didn’t repeat.)

    I mean…it just wasn’t the level of job that should have THAT many interviewers. Granted, I would have been scheduling for the president of the company, but that is still seriously too much!

    And I think panels should hever be that huge! I wished they had filmed it and showed everyone later if they really needed that much buy-in.

    (I didn’t get the job. But by the end of that process, I didn’t really want it anymore!)

    Oh, one last thing – after that DAY of interviews, they actually emailed me a question that “they forgot to ask.” Come on now!

  15. Ginger Pet Lady*

    Husband once did a series of interviews like this, and the 5 team members he met with all asked the SAME QUESTIONS. They were on a few sheets of paper stapled together and the interviewers just left them on the table in between. Interviewers were restricted to talking about these questions only, for “consistency”. The interviews were scheduled on the half hour, and if they finished early, my husband was left waiting alone in the conference room for 5-15 minutes in between.
    Such a colossal waste of my husband’s time. He got an offer but declined because the process was so lousy.
    Respect the time of your applicants!

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      It sounds just like the experience I had once. I spent 2+ hours in a windowless “conference room” that was maybe large enough for 3 people tops. I got the same line about consistency, so we only did the questions on their sheet. I think I spent more time sitting in that room a lone than I did with the all interviewers combined.

    2. Just Another Zebra*

      This sounds similar to an experience I just had interviewing. I was told the process would take 2 hours. I arrived on time, only to wait 15 minutes because my interviewer wasn’t “ready”. Then someone not in the interview process (I learned later) took me on a building tour, which was interesting and informative. This took about 30 minutes. I was then seated back in reception for another 10 minutes, moved to a different seating area for an additional 10 minutes, and finally brought into a conference room for the most uncomfortable panel interview of my life. None of the interviewers seemed a) prepared to be doing an interview, or b) particularly interested in me as a candidate. Questions I asked received vague nonanswers.

      They were shocked when I didn’t accept the position. Respect applicants time, for sure!

      1. Just Another Zebra*

        Adding – this was also after 2 x 30 minute phone screens and about 2 hours worth of homework. I had to complete a skills assessment (which the HR person admitted wasn’t part of the job, but “everybody is given the same skill test”) and a personality test.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          IMO any “personality test” or “cognitive aptitude test” is a straight up huge red flag for me. They are both bunk and discriminatory against people who are not neurotypical or have cognitive disabilities that don’t even interfere with their ability to do their job! I seriously push back on that type of crap. Sure, I can almost deal with people testing me for skills in a job that I’ve done for over 20 years, but asking me to rapidly tell the difference between two striped shirts that are only a little different, when I don’t work with colors or shirts?

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      Wow, that’s really bad. I would generally struggle with interviews that don’t allow for flexibility or a deeper dive into or clarification of a candidate’s answer (or scribing everything everyone says, no thanks).

      Even if the interviewers were restricted, were the candidates allowed to ask other questions? Interviewing is a two-way street, so if I can’t also ask the questions that are important to me, that is a total waste of my time.

    4. Fikly*

      This is a DEI thing, and it’s DEI done badly and thinking that equal (everyone gets the same questions, and only the same questions) means fair (the actual goal of DEI).

  16. Roland*

    Reading the answer and comments is really driving home how different industries are, haha. What OP described is completely 100% normal in software engineering, except that for us usually step 3 is 3-4 one hour interviews, not 30 minute interviews. And yes, it’s in one block traditionally (though since COVID, as those interviews became virtual, I’ve been offered the choice of splitting step 3 into blocks if I prefer).

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      So I’m super curious because there’s always what is standard and then there’s what is actually useful.

      So for your industry, what is the intent behind multiple interview with significant time commitment and then do you personally feel that doing it that was accomplished the goal?

      Alternately, if you could decide how interviews were done from now on, would you keep it the same or would you make changes, and why?

      1. Roland*

        These are almost always multiple technical interviews, with some amount of behavioral questions mixed in or having a dedicated hour. Some companies might also have some kind of deep dive into a previous project. Technical interviews tend to be one coding or architectural challenge that you work through during the time provided and each one sheds light on different aspects of your work, or just sometimes you shine more on one question compared to another.

        I will be the first to say that the specific technical questions could use tons and tons improvement for most companies, but having been on both ends plenty of time, I think it makes sense you’d need to be asked more than once to a) give enough signal and b)put your best foot forward.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Okay so this makes a little more sense.

          For most industries, there are technical interviews. So it really is literally just talking to people about your work/work history.

          Which is probably why most of us in the comments are like dude – no. There’s only so many different questions you can ask that suss out how someone works.

      2. talos*

        If you have 4 tech interview questions then you can probably still perform okay even if you bomb one (and bombing one is pretty common and doesn’t necessarily make you a bad candidate, sometimes there’s just a thing you don’t recognize or it takes you half the time to realize your idea was bad). Less than 4 and that gets less reliable.

        It also lets interviewers hit a couple different areas of technical expertise (like coding in a particular domain, or software architecture). So I don’t think I really have a huge issue with the process.

        1. talos*

          Heck, how you handle bombing a question is also good signal, so it can be good for a company to ask enough questions that you get a bad one also.

        2. darlingpants*

          I believe my husband’s UX job interview was a 45 minute presentation on UX he’d developed and his design philosophy, 3 separate code tests with 3 different people (one that he bombed), then a group lunch that doubled as a culture interview. It was from like 9 am-1 pm (pre-covid, so onsite and all at once).

          1. darlingpants*

            The code test he bombed was run by someone he ended up sharing an office with, which made his first week stressful but entertaining.

    2. An Australian In London (currently in Australia)*

      Here to say the same thing. Tech jobs particularly developers/SWEs are easily this many interviews; at BigTech it’s even more.

      It’s pretty common in Biggest Tech that all tech roles have a pre-screen, a screen, a tech interview, a manager interview, possibly a take-home coding test, and then some form of “loop” which is a full day of 6+ interviews with different people. They will do this even for their most junior roles.

  17. SEM*

    The initial recruiter and then 3 rounds seems like enough to me. But I know my company will sometimes put people through a few other rounds. Anything more than 3-4 seems excessive

  18. Been there done that*

    Why can’t step 3 be a panel, regardless of whether it’s virtual or in person? This is way too much.

    I have a three interview rule max. If after investing that much time you can’t decide whether I’m a fit, then I’m not. I’m also a hiring manager and I have the same philosophy. No more than three interviews.

  19. talos*

    Big tech hiring for junior devs through…mid-level-ish managers (I think) typically goes like:
    – 30 min phone screen with recruiter (also various other calls with the recruiter throughout)
    – 45-60 min technical interview
    – a 4-hour block of 4 more 45-60 min technical interviews
    – 30-min calls with specific hiring managers until you match with a team (it’s common to have 3 or 4 of these). Very large tech companies tend to hire for a role companywide, then put you on a team later.

    For junior devs! People’s first job out of college!

    Maybe this is why the process the LW uses didn’t feel too bad to me.

      1. The Real Fran Fine*

        That part. I could see sacrificing some time for these insane number of steps if I were interviewing for a job that was going to pay me $180k+ out the gate. But most of the companies that do this pay ass, so it’s unreasonable and disrespectful to boot.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yeah, most of the big tech companies pay junior devs something like $80k/y, not $180k. But the interviews are still brutal in the amount of gatekeeping and hoop jumping that a person has to do.

  20. jtr*

    I would probably combine 2 and 3 IF you trust your HR/phone screening person to be sure the candidate is qualified*. I would also make sure that each of your interviewers are covering a different area – e.g., 1 person covering technical expertise, one person covering team work/working culture, etc.

    When I was actively interviewing I also made sure that a support person (admin assistant in our case) spent a decent amount of time with the candidate (again, in our case, they picked up the person from the lobby of the main building and walked them over to our building, got them settled in the interview room, etc.), and also was in the post-interview debriefing**.

    I also had 2 or 3 team members at about the same level take the candidate to lunch in the cafeteria, so the candidate could ask questions peer-to-peer. (Obvs in person, not sure how to do that on zoom…)

    Intense, but only 1 day off work required, and lots of different viewpoints available.

    * This was pre-COVID, but we did have one person who passed the phone screen with flying colors, and obviously knew absolutely nothing at all in the in-person. I don’t know if he had a friend do the phone screen or what…

    **And this eliminated several candidates who were a-holes to the admin. One, she actually teared up in the debriefing. Of course, this was also the guy who was condescending to me, the young-looking female HIRING MANAGER.

    1. Roland*

      I think scheduling support staff and lunch buddies to attend debriefs is too much. They should of course be empowered to speak up in the cases they do have any issues, and they should be listened to, but for the majority of candidates that aren’t assholes, feels like a waste of those folks’ time to attend. Pre-covid I worked at a company that did peer lunch buddies to answer candidate Qs and we didn’t get invited to debriefs because it was lunch, not a lunch interview. I could have emailed the recruiter or HM if the candidate gave off red flags but otherwise would have nothing of value to contribute.

    2. EngineerDE*

      I was a hiring manager, and I usually wanted to talk to the candidate first before we scheduled interviews with others. I wanted to cast a wide net and was also very selective, so the HR phone screen was effective for screening out definite “nos” but not for screening out bad fits. I didn’t want to waste company interviewers’ time if the candidate turned out to be a dud.

    3. DataSci*

      It’s not about trust. HR lacks the skillset to tell if someone is qualified for any remotely technical job.

  21. sewsandreads*

    Alison, if this is the wrong place to ask, please delete and I’ll ask in the Friday thread, but it got me thinking — how many people would you typically place on a panel? Would that change depending on the nature of the role?

    We’re hiring for some annual apprentice level positions. One exec manager is happy to conduct these on their own (or let the direct manager proceed with the interviews), and another exec manager wants three execs on the panel, plus an external panellist from a sister organisation. Most of us in our department think the second one is a bit of overkill, but I’d be interested to see what others think!

    1. irene adler*

      RE: the second option
      Overkill. C’mon, at apprentice level what is it we think will be uncovered by these execs?
      What value or insights will the “external panellist from a sister organisation” have that might sway the hiring? Or will those insights be brushed off (“You won’t be interacting with this hire anyway!”)?

      1. sewsandreads*

        My thoughts exactly — we’ve said that these execs will have no better insight than the actual manager (and in the case of the second one, which I realise isn’t clear, the exec pushing for the panel of four isn’t even the direct manager!). I got hired for an executive support position and didn’t have that many people on my own panel!

    2. Michelle Smith*

      I’ve been to a very large panel interview before, where every high level exec in the office plus the head of legal hiring (who I’d had my first interview with) were in the room. I think there were about 7 or so people (it was several years ago so it’s hard to remember exactly. Not more than 8, definitely more than 5.) It was overkill. Some of the people in the room didn’t ask any questions and I really think they were just there to give the actual decision-maker (equivalent of CEO) their feedback based on watching me. It was unnecessarily stressful, IMO, trying to make eye contact with a table full of people when I wasn’t at an end, but whatever. I got through it and I got the job.

      I have had much more pleasant experiences with panels of 3-4 people. That’s a small enough group for me to make eye contact easily with everyone and for everyone to ask me their specific questions. It feels less like an interrogation from a parole board and more like a conversation when you have fewer people.

      One thing I have never experienced, in dozens of interviews, is being interviewed by someone who doesn’t work at the organization I applied to work for. Having an external person weigh in on internal hiring is quite strange and could be a conflict of interest if that candidate is applying both places. That part seems very weird to me, even if the candidate would be working frequently with that person in the future. I’m an attorney and that would be like me interviewing with a firm and having in-house counsel from a business the firm does work for sit in on my interview. It would be confusing and off-putting. Can’t say it is unprecedented, just that I’ve never experienced it.

      1. ISP*

        don’t have 21 on panel. this is my personal record of large, ineffective panels. at a Fortune 50 company too.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      My general thought on panels is that everyone who’s there should be there for a reason. It’s not a numbers game, it’s “who’s input here is valuable?” (to both the candidate and the process).

      One of my teams has a manager + four members who work together closely. The manager does the first interview and as many of the team as can make it do the panel – but they’ll all work directly with the person, can describe the work/workplace, and they know each other well enough to have a good flow and not step all over each other.

      One of my other teams has multiple managers and is large and slightly overlapping. In that case, the most relevant/direct-report manager will interview first and then pick 1-3 people whose job most closely matches the one we’re hiring for to do peer/panel interviews, depending on how scheduling shakes out.

      For management roles, we do an interview with me, with the head of HR, and then with at least two of their peers OR principles with whom they’d be working directly.

  22. John*

    At Big Corp where I worked until recently, 7-8 rounds was pretty common. (There were times our area was asked to do a courtesy interview and the candidate would tell us how many zillion rounds they’d been through and plead us to help it end.)

    It wasn’t usually the choice of hiring managers. I saw senior leaders increasingly expecting to be personally involved in their process for two- and three-downs and expecting reps from the major areas that the candidate would be working with to also have a say.

    So the issue seems to be about properly empowering hiring managers

  23. irene adler*

    I just wish when there’s a list of sequential interviewers one has to meet, they would take the time -beforehand- to coordinate what topics they intend to ask the candidate about (can’t they compare notes afterwards???). It gets so exhausting to answer the same half dozen ‘ice -breaker’ questions 4-5 times.
    Bonus: could be a time-saver as well!

  24. Lobsterman*

    If I saw this process, I would conclude that this was one of those companies too disorganized to actually hire and peace out. My 2c, YMMV.

    1. dcm*


      This 3-step process may seem standard to many people on this site, but in my world (Writing/Editing/Marketing) this amount of screening is, well, bonkers. Is it any wonder employees are pushing back against these kind of industry norms?

      1. ThatGirl*

        That’s funny, because I am a marketing copywriter and this was very similar to the process I had at my current job. Of course, I have only worked in-house, not at agencies.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          This. Three steps was what I’m used to and I’m in comms (and before that, content development and proposals, which also did the three steps at a minimum).

  25. Dawn*

    Rather than “can you do the interviews this way, can you do the interviews that way,” let’s start with, “Are all of these interviews actually necessary?” and “Is this procedure variable depending on the position?”

    I get that you want all of these interviews, but I’d start from a place of asking what is actually needed, because you’ll often be pushing strong candidates away if you’re doing lots of interviewing just because you’d like it or because the current procedure mandates it. Remember that, while certainly not a blanket determination, many of your best candidates are already going to be employed full-time, and the more of a burden you place on them the more likely they are to back out of your process or find work with a company which moves more efficiently.

  26. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Four is too many IMWO.

    The initial screen makes sense. The hiring manager needs to talk to the candidate after that. I can see an in-depth follow up with finalists afterwards or exposure to peers, but after that 3rd round, it’s hire the candidate or stop wasting their time and yours.

  27. stacers*

    I recently interviewed for three different mid-level jobs.

    The first: 30-minute screener, three-hour in-person interview going around building talking to … 6? 8? people (can’t even remember). Then separate 60-minute in-person interview with hiring manager (mostly because she called in sick the day I was there). Exhausting. Annoying.

    The second: 30-minute screener, 90-minute Zoom with panel (they took turns asking questions, then chimed in variously with answer/comments). Went reasonably well.

    The third: 30-minute screener, 30-minute Zoom with would-be boss, 30-minute Zoom seven days later with grandboss. Perfectly acceptable.

    No offers from first two; offer accepted with third, been here six weeks (thanks for the tips, AMA).

  28. Queen Ruby*

    For my job, I did a 10-15 minute phone screen, which included a quick company intro, background about the job, and a quick run-through of my background. The next week, a 30 call with the hiring manager. The week after that, 3 half hour interviews on-site with Quality, Ops, and hiring manager. Got an offer 2 days later. I’ve been through a lot of interviews, and I think this process hit just the right note in regards to time spent and the quality of the conversations. Any more would have seemed….just extra.

  29. Hera*

    I’m not sure exactly what role OP is hiring for, but I’m a software engineer, and that sounds very similar to the general interview process I’ve seen at every company I’ve both worked and interviewed for.

    1. A short phone screen with the hiring manager.
    2. A one hour technical screen.
    3. If you pass the tech screen, a series of panels (usually 3 or 4) from 30-60 minutes each, where you solve a discrete technical problem in each panel. There will also be a non-technical panel included in this for general work and culture questions on both sides.

    The panels in the last part are all separate because they’re separate problems; the interviewer who gives you the second problem has no need to know anything about the first, so having all of them on a panel doesn’t make sense and is also generally more stress inducing on the interviewee side to have more people watching.

    Before work from home step 3 would typically be done as a half to almost full day interview in the office. Since remote interviewing became ubiquitous, I’ve typically seen it be the candidate’s choice of whether they want to do this in a big block on a single day or split up in shorter blocks over several days. (So for I’ve always done the latter because it’s actually easier to schedule.)

    As someone who’s been on both sides of this process, it’s never felt like too much for me. That might be because there’s not really any special prep to do for any of the technical stuff; either you know it or you don’t, and if you do want to do some studying beforehand then it applies to all technical panels. So at least in my industry what OP is describing sounds very standard, and I don’t think anyone would blink at it.

  30. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    I’m a high-level individual contributor and this is… too much. Make that third one a 30-60 minute panel interview with all four people, and you’ve changed my mind.

  31. KellifromCanada*

    Oh my god, 7 interviews! I live in Eastern Canada, and around here, unless a position is very senior, most candidates have one or two interviews.

    1. Forgot my name again*

      UK and similar. In my org and my personal chain of command there’s greatgrandboss, grandboss, boss, me, my line reports. All hires from boss downward would be: advert–>application–>interview–>hire (or otherwise), with a single panel interview of 3-4 people. Often candidates are given a tour before the interview by a peer or junior staff member, but the whole interview schedule takes about 2 hours per candidate.

  32. LB*

    With that many interviews with separate people (or groups of people), you’re either:

    -Making the candidate answer the same questions over and over again (perhaps wondering if they now need four separate anecdotes for each behavioral interview question, or alternately making them respond to the same question as though it’s the first time they were asked each time)


    -Making them answer less and less relevant questions, if there aren’t repeats.

    I sincerely doubt this many people need to be involved in the hiring process.

  33. Don't kneel in front of me*

    You can call this process whatever you want to call it, but the fact is you have:

    One phone screen
    One video interview
    Four back to back interviews
    One additional interview

    That’s a phone screening plus six interviews.

  34. Don't kneel in front of me*

    Remeber when you were in school and the teacher would say “don’t worry about the test–there’s only 3 questions!” Then you get the test and you see 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, 2a, 2b.1, 2b.2, 2c, 2d, 2e . . . ? That’s your “three step” interview process.

    1. Gato Blanco*

      Haha my sentiments exactly. This is a pretty awful bait and switch if the company is really going around saying it’s a 3-Step process.

  35. RCS*

    I recently had a 4 person interview in an auditorium type room and we were all spaced out at least 10ft apart. They 4 interviewers were in a U shape at tables and I was in a chair. Only 1 person asked questions, but I had to answer while swiveling every couple of sentences to get eye contact with the 4. AWKWARD. Almost felt like a parole hearing.

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      … did we interview for the same company? Because this is exactly how I’d describe the most recent panel interview I sat through. It was the worst.

  36. TeenieBopper*

    If I have to block off more than three periods of time, company needs to get its act together.

    1. TeenieBopper*

      And to add, more than like four or five hours of time is unacceptable, too. You’re either serious about hiring someone and you respect their time and ability, or you you’re not and don’t.

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      I would agree. Even if it’s a Zoom meeting, I have to prepare – I have to show up on time, dressed appropriately, with all self-care dialed in to perform at my best. I will make sure I’m able to give the events at hand my full attention; that will likely involve a day off work, among other things. Also, I need to review my application, so I’ve got my pitch for the job freshly in mind. Showing up with my game face on takes effort! I’m the weirdo who actually enjoys a rigorous technical interview; quiz me all day long, it’s fine. But I’m going to wonder about you if I have to keep showing up. Once is great, twice is acceptable…three or more times, the job had better be awesome, because what are you people doing?

  37. toolittletoolate*

    I wonder if anyone has ever done a good quality study about whether more interviews = better hiring outcomes and, at what point does the efficacy fall off? I actually think there might be a point where more interviews may actually result in a poorer hire because you go with the compromise candidate.

    1. irene adler*

      Yeah, good question.

      In my candidate experience, I sometimes wonder if those doing the interviews ever put heads together **beforehand** to agree as to what the goal is (beyond “hiring someone”). It can be mighty aggravating when everyone has an independent idea of what they want to see in the successful candidate. Sure, a great way to spot a yellow (and possibly red) flag for the candidate. But too much grief!

    2. Dawn*

      Well that and your top candidates – people whose qualifications are in demand – are just going to drop out of your excessive process and go with another offer unless they REALLY want to work with your company specifically.

    3. LabTechNoMore*

      In my experience, more interviews and interviewers means more cookie cutter hires. Everyone has their own idea of what makes “good” versus “bad” hires, and the more people you add, the more it effectively turns every role requirement into a big cliche “must 5+ years experience, masters required, zero resume gaps, 15+ minutes early, detail-oriented-take-charge-hit-the-ground-running-works-independently-and-in-groups be-an-able-bodied-white dude” requirement.

  38. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    For one job, I recently went through 4 interviews with 7 people from the company, over 3 separate days – for an *entry-level* bottom rung position. It’s too much, especially for the lowest person on the totem pole. Companies really need to check themselves and scale back!!

  39. Free Meerkats*

    We are required by law to use civil service rules for uniformed services (police and fire), so we do it for all non-exempt hires. For Public Works mid-level, that would mean apply online that may include a supplemental questionnaire with job specific questions which a panel evaluates for qualification, the top 8 or so get a panel interview and if necessary, a practical. Panels are typically 3 people who weren’t in the review panel and not the hiring manager using the same questions for each person; practicals can are done immediately before or after the panel and could take an hour or two. All the scores are combined and the top 5 from that process go to hiring interviews with the hiring manager.

    For entry level, there is usually a written test instead of a supplemental.

  40. Keyboard Cowboy*

    This is interesting because a whole-day or half-day slate of interviews is the norm in my industry (software development), and this interview setup doesn’t sound so unusual.

    “Why couldn’t your four 30-minute interviews be a panel?” Because each interview is a different technical challenge, typically; and because each interviewer is evaluating different areas of expertise; and because we don’t want to cross-contaminate an interviewers’ opinion with that of the others. Maybe it doesn’t need to be – I keep hearing about the evils of whiteboard interviews for programming jobs – but at least for my area, this interview process sounds fine.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      How do you have this much time in your day for all these interviews? Or in your industry is it more common to interview with one company at a time, or to quit your job in order to make this (to me, insane) series of interviews work?

      1. darlingpants*

        You do like 3 over the course of a month or two, or (if you’re lucky) you do one and then you get the job.

        I think maybe the disconnect is that: if you have the sort of job where your technical knowledge is probed this deeply, it’s also the sort of job where you can take 3 afternoons off in one month and no one is really going to care.

        1. Keyboard Cowboy*

          Yep, exactly. Software engineering is not a coverage-based industry (with the exception of oncall, and even then, it’s unusual for one person to be oncall for more than one week at a time, and usually that week happens once a month at most) so nobody cares if you take a day or half-day here and there as long as you’re still making progress on your development work.

          1. Yes Anastasia*

            Sure, but if your candidates are new/returning to the industry, this becomes an equity issue. People who are entry-level or have childcare responsibilities may not be as to flex their schedules this way.

            1. Don't Call Me Shirley*

              I had exactly that issue (returning post parental leave and interviewing) and the jobs are worth paying a babysitter or calling in favours. They want to know my ability to solve technical problems, and that takes time without child distractions. I did the written tests after 10pm for several applications, and had to ask around for babysitting, but now sitting on the other side of the table, it’s hard to judge technical skill in less time. In fact it’s hardest with people returning from a break or new who aren’t right out of a similar job and I want to probe for potential.

              I see the same think pieces advocating getting rid of whiteboard coding, but we need to get into specifics to know if someone can talk about the solution to novel problems and take critical feedback on their solution.

      2. Keyboard Cowboy*

        In addition to what darlingpants said – these full-day interview slates are only booked after you pass a preliminary interview, and the preliminary interview is only 30-60 minutes. So I expect for a candidate it could look like a dozen phone screens throughout the month, and a small handful of longer interview slates like this. That’s how it went when I was looking on my way out of college. So it’s not like you’re getting dragged in all day as first contact.

        1. darlingpants*

          To add again, a lot of times you’re getting flown out for the on site interview (especially out of college), and so doing anything less than half a day is also sort of… inefficient? in a totally different sense. I got flown from upstate NY to Alabama with an overnight stay for a 2 hour on-site interview and just ended up like…. why? Couldn’t you have given me a lab tour at least? Not that I got the job.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      I can see separate interviews for different expertise, because I wouldn’t expect a ceramic expert to be good at plastics.

      Where I had some issues is that the interview timing covered the time most folks eat lunch (around noon), but no provision was made for me to eat. (I’ve done meal interviews and don’t mind them.)

      What I am seeing in this conversation is that we are looking at time periods vs actual number of separate people we are talking to. If the time periods are kept reasonable, that isn’t as bad as a larger number of different times, even though the number of interviewers are the same.

  41. Gato Blanco*

    Honestly the process you describe sounds unacceptable. I am shocked that you as a hiring manager find it reasonable to make someone have what equates to 7 interviews–we all prep for each of these “conversations”–and doing 4 back to back is exactly as unreasonable as doing 4 spotted over several days. The former being because being “on” for 4 interviews in a row is exhausting and the latter because that is a scheduling nightmare. Do panel interviews if you must have this many fingers in every candidate pie. You are burning out quality candidates for little actual gain.

  42. Coffee and Plants*

    I recently went through an interview process just like this, and it ended up being seven interviews. I thought I had the job in the bag (because, seven interviews!!).. and ended up not getting it. I was pissed because it was nearly four hours of interviewing that I had to work around my full-time job schedule. Interviewers that use this method need to think about what the person that’s being interviewed needs to do to be able to attend all of these sessions. It’s not exactly easy.

  43. Michelle Smith*

    Never in my life would I subject myself to this. Learn how to do a panel interview effectively please! There is no reason to make me interview with team member after team member after team member instead of letting me meet them all at once. And the interviews should be an hour, not two, unless there is something really exceptional going on.

    1. DataSci*

      Not all fields work the same way! Please believe techies when we say probing expertise in different areas is 100% necessary in some fields.

  44. Bang-Shang-A-Lang*

    My husband is mid-level in his career and recently had this exact scenario happen where a typically 3-round interview (recruiter screening, hiring manager call, on-site visit with multiple people) wound up being a 7-step, multi-week process because only a few of the people he would have met during the on-site visit were actually available during that time. Several years ago he was actually fired for job-searching when another employer noticed a series of absences and correctly guessed that he was interviewing elsewhere.

    Thankfully, he received an offer without jeopardizing his current position, but this makes him concerned that any future career moves will use a process that requires him to risk becoming unemployed. He considered backing out of this interview process and I can see him doing that in the future if there’s ever a risk of tipping off a current employer again. (Admittedly, the company that fired him for job-searching was bonkers, but being unemployed was absolutely awful.)

  45. Imprudence*

    Is this a US thing? the whole thing sounds excessive to me. For my last two jobs ( mid level administration) I had a 30. minute exercise ( write a meeting agenda, precis a report, send a tactful email, prioritise a to-do list, that sort of thing) followed by a 45 minute panel interview with immediate manager and some if their colleagues.

    That was it.

    No phone screen, no second interviews.

    For my present job, the date of the interview was in the job advert, and my boss phoned the same afternoon to offer me the job.

    It seems to have worked out OK

    1. londonedit*

      It might be more of an industry thing than a location thing. I’m in the UK, in book publishing, and I’ve never had more than two interviews. Phone screens aren’t a thing in my industry – you apply for the job (often the interview dates are listed in the advert) and then if you get through to interview it’s straight into a first interview with the hiring manager and probably one other person from the team you’ll be working on (so, for example, if you’re going for a job as Editor then you’ll probably meet the Editorial Director and the Commissioning Editor for the list). There’s also usually a short editorial test, no more than half an hour’s worth, after the interview itself. You’re looking at maybe 10 or 15 people being brought in for first interviews. After that, a few people will go forward to second interview stage – maybe 3-5 candidates – and at that point you’ll usually meet the hiring manager again plus someone one level up (so in this example the Editorial Director plus the overall head of the non-fiction department, or whatever). Then after the second interviews they’ll make a decision on who gets the job. The whole process usually takes a couple of weeks from when you’re invited for the first interview, it’s pretty straightforward.

    2. MsSolo UK*

      I think it’s both industry and country specific, judging by the responses. Certainly, I’ve never gone for anything that was more than a test and a panel interview (mostly project management adjacent roles), max of three people on the panel. I think when you get into senior roles (directorate) there’s usually a second interview as well. A lot of what people talk about covering in phone screens – salary, annual leave, other benefits – is usually in the ad, so phone screens have less utility from a candidate’s perspective. I can see why if you’ve got a more involved process a phone screen is still useful, but there’s not a lot of point spending 30 minutes on the phone if you’re only going to spend a max of two hours interviewing.

    3. Rach*

      All my job interviews (professional services in UK unis) have been a single panel interview, maybe but not always with a task.

  46. EngineerDE*

    It sounds like a lot of folks don’t like the LW’s process, but that’s really standard in my location/industry (engineering). I interviewed for 2 new jobs for a company change while also interviewing candidates as a hiring manager. In my experience it isn’t too much to ask for a phone screen, call with the hiring manager, and 2-4 hours of interviewing with others at the company (typically in a block). Both companies did multiple panels with 2 people each. While some of the questions were repetitive, interviewers followed up in different ways and learned different things. Both companies had interview guides for the interviewers, and one of the companies assigned different competency question lists to interviewers that were often effective.

    1. Dawn*

      As an engineer, you might be aware that just because something is an industry standard it doesn’t necessarily follow that the standard is the best or most efficient way to do something.

      1. Avery*

        Or even if it is the best way of doing things in that industry, that that doesn’t necessarily apply to the rest of the world.

        1. DataSci*

          Absolutely! Now if generic people managers could extend techies the same courtesy that just because a single half -hour panel interview works for you doesn’t mean it works for everyone, we’d get somewhere.

    2. s*

      What kind of information are you asking that takes 4 hours to get out of people? Are you having them work for free?

  47. This sounds familiar. . .*

    Wow. I haven’t been on an interview in over 15 years (even though I have changed companies three times in that period). I would find that whole process maddening and I just wouldn’t do it. I’m in a pretty specialized profession that involves an obscure licensure so most people doing the hiring are no BS people who know the world (they live in it too). Most people also know each other or at least know of each other.

    I did have a recruiter once contact me on behalf of a national corporation. I told him I wasn’t interested (I was happy where I was) and then he said “Can I ask you some questions about your profession?” Essentially, he was getting people through the door and they were cutting contact after the first or second interview. Turns out, they were asking some of the weird profiling questions like “What kind of salad dressing would you be?” having them meet with random people who knew nothing about our profession and work (and who also weren’t able to divulge salary range). Another issue was not valuing the applicant’s (the licensed professional’s) time by getting them into the interview 45 minutes late, etc. I told him, you are going to lose 110% of your recruits if your client does that. Two weeks later he called to thank me for the guidance, he had the company change their tactics to match the expectations of the people they needed and that took care of that. I should have sent them a bill : )

  48. voyager1*

    How soon do you tell me what this job pays? I can then decide if this process is worth my time. The longer you wait on answering that, the more likely I am not going forward with this.

    1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I typically ask for their range on the pre-screen HR call. If they won’t tell, I’m not inclined to continue because we’re not on the same page.

    2. Triplestep*

      How soon can you tell me what this job pays WITHOUT first asking me my requirements? Just give me the budgeted range. Don’t pretend there isn’t one that was approved at least six months ago.

  49. Isabel Archer*

    How about this? Put HR, the job candidate, and all possible team members on a deserted island, with limited supplies….

  50. I'm just here for the cats!*

    I think it really depends on the position on if 4 interviews are too much. At my job I had a phone interview and 2 in-person interviews (one for each department I would be working in). But for others they may have more responsibility, like life and death, and so there are a lot more interviews.

  51. Keymaster*

    Interviews here for high level management = 2 1 hour panels.

    Interviews for high level technical roles = 1 hour face to face and a half hour technical test.

  52. RedinSC*

    We typically do 3.

    Phone screen no more than 30 minutes
    Panel interview
    If panel is successful team interview.

    All told under 2.5 hours, but also on 3 different days. Basically you have to pass each one to get moved on to the next one. And for roles that also work with the CEO we’d tack on an additional 30 minutes to meet with CEO.

    1. s*

      Who has this kind of time to take off of work? Why does your team need input? I’ve hired people and I just don’t think my team needs input.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Because you want to see if your candidate treats women differently from men, or POC differently from white folks.

  53. Chickaletta*

    Does anyone have advice for how to tell my boss he schedules too many interviews for his candidates? For context: I’m an EA to a Senior VP, so when he hires another Senior VP (or sometimes just a VP) he brings them in for a two-day interview gauntlet, and when I say gauntlet – he has requested up to 12 separate interviews at 2-3 locations – direct reports, other SVPs, coworkers, the CEO, business partners (project managers, finance partners); sometimes we partner them up or create a panel, but my boss wants a lot of them to be 1:1. It’s… insane. As the scheduler, it’s nearly impossible to build breaks into a day like this, and then they’re often requested to attend a dinner one of those nights on top of that. Even the head of HR made a brief comment about the number of interviewers, but we’re all quite junior to my boss and what the boss wants, the boss gets. I feel I need to say something the next time he hires because it’s obviously an insane schedule. To add insult to injury, we don’t even get feedback from all the interviewers – about a third of them never get around to providing feedback in a timely manner so their time with the candidate becomes moot, adding to my frustrations. My boss will start to hear what 3-4 people think and make his decision (often he’s made his decision by the second interview if the feedback starts coming back especially positive or negative by that point). He likes the idea of getting wide feedback, but he doesn’t practice it. What can I do?

    1. Free Meerkats*

      Give him the link to this comment thread. He probably won’t see himself in it, but there’s the chance he might.

    2. Goldenrod*

      This 100% depends on your relationship with the VP – is he generally open to feedback about his process? Does he respect and value your opinion? If so, you could bring up the topic.

      But…in my experience, the boss usually knows early on who they want to hire. The rest of it is just for show, to demonstrate “buy-in” and make them feel more comfortable about their (predetermined) decision.

      If this is the case, he’s likely to want to continue with the charade. Also, I haven’t known too many leaders who genuinely respect the opinions of support staff when it comes to this kind of thing (I’m saying this as an EA). The ones that do are probably already sensible enough not to enter into this kind of sh*tshow in the first place!

      All this to say….there is probably nothing you can do about this and it’s smarter to keep your mouth shut. (But I hope your boss is different/nicer than usual!)

  54. NoMore2Hour Interviews*

    I’m going to be very honest. I would never interview anywhere that wanted more than an hour interview and no more than two interviews total. What do you even need to know during two hours? are you giving people a break in between? I’ve hired a ton of people too and there’s nothing I need to know that I can’t get in 45min to an hour. You people are nuts.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      This is a bit abrupt. Several people in science and tech industries have said that technical interviews often have 3-4 stages, wherein a different team member assesses the candidate on a problem. Not all fields work the same.

      This would be bonkers in my field. But I’m not in tech.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. Last time I interviewed, I had a 15-minute phone screen followed by a panel interview. They interviewed about 10 candidates and about half were asked back for a technical “interview,” or rather a written skills test.

  55. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    For most jobs, I think about 2 calls and no more than two interviews. Something like this.

    1. Initial phone screen (usually HR)
    2. Short call with hiring manager
    3. In-person interview
    4. 2nd interview with the team/panel
    OR interview/call with the manager’s manager (I’ve had this happen surprisingly often).

    I can’t see a point to more than this unless you’re hiring a very high C-suite level or you’re in a field that requires a lot of testing or something.

  56. Triplestep*

    LW, if you want to be considerate, put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. For every interview of a currently employed candidate, she has to think of a reason to be away from her desk and/or out of the office. If she’s job searching, you are not the only person for whom she needs to think up excuses. Do not waste her excuses. It’s really inconsiderate.

    Also, if a phone call will do in place of an on screen interview, its a lot easier to schedule for the employed candidate. I had a hiring manager trying to schedule a Skype call with me, and when answering about my availability, I would say “If it’s a voice call, I can be available these times. If it’s a video call, it will be trickier to schedule.” I said some version of this multiple times as it kept getting rescheduled. Since she never said which it would be, I had to assume video since I didn’t want to seem dense in not knowing what “skype call” meant. (This was 2016.) My workplace had no non-glass conference rooms – I nearly took the day off of work so I could do it from home. So you can imagine my exasperation when I got on screen to find the hiring manager’s still photo, and her voice saying “Oh you don’t want to see me in my baseball cap.” Multiple red flags flown here.

  57. 15 Pieces of Flair*

    The number of interviews should be at least somewhat correlated to the position’s salary. In my personal hall of shame, back in 2019 one startup subjected me to 9 rounds including multiple skills tests (no transparency about the length of the process) for an offer of 75k with no benefits. I only did about half that interviewing for my current job making over 200k. I definitely dodged a bullet by not accepting the role with the crazy expectations startup.

  58. Jaydee*

    If you can get 4 or 5 people to coordinate their schedules to be available during a single 2.5 hour block for in-person interviews, is there a reason you can’t you do the same for the virtual/phone interviews? That seems like it would make the experience more similar for all candidates. Unless a candidate prefers to have them separately. But I think most would want to have them clustered together like the in-person interviews so they only have to prep, get dressed up, and take time off work once instead of potentially 4 separate times.

    1. miss chevious*

      I’ve found in my field (law) that if the interviews are via zoom or phone, the candidates prefer to have them broken up, so that they can schedule them into their day more easily (without highlighting to their coworkers that they are on an interview). That might be industry specific, though, as many lawyers seem to stay “interview ready” in appearance for their day-to-day work, even during the pandemic.

  59. engineering manager*

    I’m a little surprised by the advice & the comments, not because I disagree with any of it, but in my experience as an engineer (as well as now a hiring manager) within the tech industry, there are far more interviews than this and the overall time commitment is greater. I’m curious if the general take is just that tech interviewing is totally broken (which I wouldn’t disagree with, but given how large of an industry it is, it seems odd not to at least acknowledge that the advice here is far from the norm in many major companies).

    I have 15 YOE and have interviewed a lot over the years, and have also traded interview stories with many of my friends/peers in similar tech roles, so I’d say that this interview process applies to at least 100 or so companies purely from my own anecdotal data:
    – Round 1: Initial recruiter phone screen
    – Round 2: Hiring manager screen
    – Round 3: Technical assessment (might be an interview or a take-home/timed screen)
    – Round 4 (onsite/ final round): Several (generally 3 to 6) separate interviews with peers & managers, e.g. additional technical interviews, behavioral interviews, etc. Even if they’re scheduled in one block/one single day, these are distinct interviews that you have to prepare individually for.

    Sometimes rounds 1 & 2, or rounds 2 & 3, are combined somehow depending on the company/size/structure. But usually a minimum of 3 rounds, and the final round tends to be a minimum of 4 hours but up to 8 hours total.

    Personally, I’ve been very critical of the tech screens/coding screens that are rampant in this industry, but I never thought that needing to meet with several people was a big issue – it’s actually very odd to me to imagine someone might get a job just by talking to 2 people within the company.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Do you have any sense of why round 4 is broken into so many separate interviews?

  60. PX*

    A bit surprised Alison didnt put her usual caveat about things being industry dependent, because I feel like this one really is. For Tech and Engineering (I’ve done both) this is so standard that the one job I had where all I needed was one phone screen + 1 hour interview was absolutely an outlier. Assessing for both technical skills and cultural fit can just take a bit longer in some of these fields.

  61. Caroline+Bowman*

    Oooh this has brought up some Big Feelings for me!! I’ve just got a new job (yay) and thus been interviewing over the past couple of months, for the first time in a long time, with a former life as an HR in-house recruiter, so interviews and the whole process is my thing, or it used to be.

    Anyway. I was approached about a job in a new-to-me field, with lots of cross-over for my talents and skills. It sounded amazing, the company is big, well-regarded and all that. Oh. My. Dear. God. What happened next was an odyssey. Part of it was due to the fact that there are a couple of new roles, all quite similar in scope and nature and after my first, very pleasant and reasonable interview (followed by a ”surprise” second zoom call later that day with 3 team members – this is where I should have drawn a boundary but I was flattered, duh!), it devolved into hurry-up-and-wait for feedback, missed deadlines, interviews for other teams with different people, all asking very similar questions and grilling me on my knowledge of the company and what it does as though it was my first interaction with them. Finally I met the MD, who was great, again over Zoom, ”just for a chat” (to keep me on the boil essentially), and THEN I had a 3person Zoom meeting with yet another team.

    After that, I decided I didn’t want to work there. It was … disorganised and felt a bit disrespectful. Obviously it wasn’t intended that way and each person I spoke to was great, and each interview went really well and then it was back to square one again. This went on for a solid 6-8 weeks and then they said ”your XYZ skills just aren’t quite strong enough, so we’re going with an internal candidate”.

    Very poor experience on so many levels. I realise no one ever wants to ”not” get the job, even if they wouldn’t have accepted it, but man, that was just shoddy treatment!

    For the process to work, it needs to be clearly laid out what will happen and approximately when, interviewers need to talk to each other about what’s already been discussed at length, and then finally, don’t waste everyone’s time. If there’s an internal candidate, then see if they’re a good fit first.

  62. Skippy*

    The standard in my field (arts admin) is fairly similar, except for the fact that most organizations either don’t have HR, or their HR department has very limited involvement in the interview process, so there’s not always a screening call. Typically it’s a first interview with the hiring manager, usually by phone or Zoom, followed by a longer second interview with a few people that takes place on-site and lasts maybe half a day. I don’t find this particularly onerous, and I actually like having the opportunity to see where I would be working and to meet some of the other people I’d be working with. I feel like it helps me make the decision as to whether this is a place I’d actually want to work, and if the organization is upfront and thoughtful about their process and timeline, I respect that.

    I am far more bothered by rampant disorganization that does not respect my time, or interview processes where the hiring manager can’t seem to make a decision so they keep doing more and more interviews hoping some sort of divine revelation will magically appear — or, more likely, that someone will drop out and make the decision for them. I would also be very happy if I never had to do a project or performance task again.

  63. Coffee Bean Counter*

    I’ve been hired at 3 major (most people recognize the names of) companies and all did 1 phone screening with HR or the recruiter and 1 interview. The final interview was either a video call or in person. More than that seems excessive burden on a candidate and in my experience was at companies that ended up being disorganized.

  64. Dax*

    I recently had a 30 minute phone screen with a recruiter, then a 1 hour Webex with the hiring manager and 2 other people, then a 4-hour (!!!) onsite interview during which I spent 1 hour with the senior management team, 1 hour with 2 IT guys, a third hour with the hiring manager and the same 2 people who had interviewed me on Webex, then a site tour, then a 30-minute wrap-up with the hiring manager. And I wasn’t offered the role, which didn’t even surprise me, because I was so mentally drained by the end of the half-day onsite that I know I wasn’t even giving good answers. The hiring manager spent the final 30 minutes throwing the hardest questions of the day at me and I literally couldn’t even think clearly at that point – 4 hours is way too long to be fully “on” and a nervous wreck. Companies need to seriously dial back this process. I had to work from home one day and take an entire day off to make this all work with my schedule, and it ended up being for nothing on my end.

    1. Ez*

      Dang, this reminds me of several years ago when I was interviewing for a job in another city and had four hours of interviews starting around 9 am. They didn’t offer to help with travel (and I was too naive to ask), so I woke up around 4 am, made the three-hour drive, and despite exhaustion felt I did my best with the several people I interviewed with. I sent a thank-you email, then a followup, and never heard back until a month later when I get an automated rejection letter. What a waste of time.

  65. miss chevious*

    I am sympathetic to the argument that 4 interviews is too many, but I do use it in my hiring when we are down to the final two candidates, because I would like my entire team to have a voice in the hiring of a new member. On more than one occasion, we have caught a significant issue with a candidate (sexism, racism, lying about relevant experience), because of the additional interviews with people at different levels in the org. For example, one man seemed like a great candidate from my perspective and those who would be his peers, but was incredibly rude to the paralegal he would be working with and mentioned that he expected she would be available to pick up his lunch (!!!) every day. Another man was very nice to the other men on the team, but very patronizing to me (who would have been his boss) and the other female interviewers.

    I’ve also found that it gives candidates a chance to ask about me as a leader and ask other questions about the organization that they wouldn’t otherwise ask. And, of course, we don’t all ask the same questions–we coordinate to make sure we’re touching on fresh areas.

    I will definitely give some thought to how to reduce the number of interviews based on the comments here, while maintaining the benefits I’ve found from having multiple interviews.

    1. Skippy*

      I’ve done a lot of hiring too, and I find it really helpful to have my colleagues’ perspective during the process: sometimes they catch something I may have missed, either positive or negative. I think it’s just a matter of finding ways to make it easier for candidates who have to use PTO for their interviews, either by creating panel interviews or doing virtual meetings or consolidating meetings into a single block of time.

  66. blood orange*

    OP from what you’ve described I’d be more concerned about the amount of people involved than the existing number of steps. As Alison notes, the actual process might be fine if that 3rd step isn’t a lot of separate scheduling. However, it really sounds like you have more people on your side participating than is reasonable. Believe me, I do get when everyone wants to be involved in finding a new team member. I’m not sure if that’s what is going on, if the group has just gotten bloated, or something else.

    It might be smart to revisit what everyone’s role is, who the key players are, and narrow down to a smaller group. That should take care of your concern that your process might be too much, it should make decision-making smoother, and it will give a better impression to your candidates (because frankly for a mid-level role with that many people interviewing me, I think I’d get the impression that there aren’t clear roles in the organization).

  67. Bowserkitty*

    Hah, throwback to when my department panel interviewed candidates in 4-5 consecutive groups of 3 people…. (I experienced being on both sides of it and scheduling was indeed a nightmare)

    1. Bowserkitty*

      Oop, should note this was AFTER the phone screen and the interview with the bosses (also separately IIRC).

  68. Bill Johnson*

    What is driving this interview insanity? If you’re the hiring manager, make a decision. Hence your title”hiring manager”. Yes, get one more interviewer if you are confident in your decisions. Three-step max…recruiter screening, hiring manager, and maybe the hiring manager’s supervisor. Make a decision and go!

  69. H3llifIknow*

    Hmm when I was hired for one of the biggest Gov contractors in the world, I had a phone screen and then was brought in from 9am to 1pm for several interviews with my potential (but remote) team leads, local lead I’d be supporting programmaticaly, the local VP, HR, etc… but each interview did not ask the same questions. One was to focus on my technical skills/knowledge, another on my “culture fit” another to talk benefits and expectations, etc… It was a long day, but I didn’t feel “over-interviewed” although I was sure HUNGRY when I left.

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