Are Never-Ending Job Interviews The New Normal?


Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Looking for a new job? More and more companies are asking candidates to endure unending interview rounds. But what is the limit? Can too many rounds drive candidates away?

Back in the Before Times – ie: pre-pandemic – job seekers went through one to three interviews until a hiring decision was made, which is totally reasonable. But in recent years, an outrageous number of interview rounds has become the norm. Sometimes recruiters reach such an absurd number that they even drive candidates away.

Our editors have heard stories that leave us speechless:

A woman went through 29 – YES, 29 – 30-minute interviews for a senior director position. She met multiple employees, including the CEO, President, and COO. Two of her references were called, and both gave her stellar reviews. In the end, the company went with a different candidate.

This scenario describes a familiar story:

A person was interviewing for their job and had to go through six separate 30-minute Zoom sessions with each person on the company’s main team. For some reason, the sessions couldn’t be scheduled on the same day. Instead, they expected the candidate to be available every day over the course of a week. On top of that, they required five references who each had to fill out a 15-question questionnaire.

Most job seekers are simultaneously interviewing with multiple companies, meaning they have to juggle overlapping interview processes. With each of them demanding a ridiculous number of steps, this eats up valuable personal time. Let’s face it, not many of us can run an effective job search while doing our actual job.

And it isn’t merely the interviews. The amount of effort required simply to be considered for the interview stage is just as ridiculous:

A basic mid-level role position asked for an initial hour-long video interview, then an assignment that takes approximately 5 hours to complete with a deadline of a week later. This was followed by yet another interview and another assignment due a week after that. But wait, there’s more! A panel interview and an hour-long executive director meeting were held. And after that came another interview with the hiring manager.

There’s a fine line between what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate. While it might make sense to ask for a presentation regarding a candidate’s vision for an executive-level position, it’s totally over-the-top for a company to expect a full-blown marketing campaign.

This feels like companies are using the interview process to get free work, or even strategies for new initiatives from their job candidates.

Is it the remote work that paved the way for an application process that’s exhausting and, frankly, exploitative. Or, are companies competing against each other to be considered the most elite workplaces?

Perhaps the most straightforward answer as to why companies make the hiring process so difficult is simply because they can.

Hire or risk losing top candidates

Exceptional candidates only transition to the job market for a brief time. Therefore, companies must nail down their recruitment process and be completely transparent about the process from day one. This way, companies can avoid negatively impacting a candidate’s interest in a role, and possibly driving them away due to a lengthy, grueling, confusing process.

62% of US professionals say they’ll walk away if they don’t hear back from the company within 10 business days of an initial interview – this from global staffing firm Robert Half. Also, most job seekers aren’t willing to go beyond 4interview rounds.

Fact is, overly complicated hiring processes forces quality candidates to go elsewhere… and righteously so. It’s tough to make up for an enormous amount of personal time lost. Not to mention how painful it is to give away ideas and your work for free.

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