How many interviews are acceptable before candidates lose interest?

How many rounds of interviews should it take to accurately assess candidate suitability and make a good final hiring decision? At what point does being thorough tip into excess? And how long are candidates willing to wait around before they lose interest? In short, how much is too much?


The BBC recently put the matter under the microscope. For a quick summary of its fascinating article on the subject, please read below.


Companies typically host several rounds of interviews to assess a candidate’s suitability for a specific role and team as well as for corporate culture. This allows key stakeholders to explore their skills, values, motivations, ambitions and personalities.


Job seekers tend to view an invitation to a second interview positively because it suggests serious interest. They are likely to view a third interview as the precursor to an offer. But when the process drags on to a fourth round or beyond, candidates may see it as a red flag in terms of company culture. In the context of today’s buoyant job market, they are likely at this stage to cut their losses and go elsewhere.


Google recently examined its past interview data and determined that four interviews were enough to make a hiring decision with 86% confidence, noting that there was a diminishing return on interviewer feedback thereafter. It promptly reduced the number of rounds of interviews required for a decision to be made. Further, having found that four interviewers could make the same hiring decisions as a larger number of interviewers, it also reduced the number of people involved.


Too many cooks really do spoil the broth. So only the employee’s direct manager, that person’s supervisor and HR should be involved in the hiring process. In the case of a C-suite position, it’s acceptable (and expected) for other C-suite executives and longstanding employees to be involved.


Of course, companies may not deliberately string out the process. Final hiring approval may be delayed because of evolving budgets or recruitment goals. Be that as it may, if valid reasons aren’t communicated clearly to candidates, they will eventually disengage from the process.


For further reading on the topic, CIPD members can access valuable resources here. If there are any other HR or recruitment-related topics that you’d like to read about in future newsletters, please let us know. ABL Recruitment is the UK’s leading multilingual recruitment agency and we are, as always, here to help!