Job interviews are horribly stressful. But when we get that phone call or email telling us they want us to come back it is so exciting. When they want us to come back for a third time to meet with someone else it is still exciting and we gain more confidence. When they ask us back a fourth or even fifth time (or 12th in some cases) we wonder if they are ever are going to actually give us the job? Is just surviving and showing up for all these interviews part of the game? We talked to some people who had to go through many interviews before finally getting the offer as well as some employers on why this tactic is used.
First of all, this is a pretty common recruitment tactic, especially in industries like marketing. Forty-four percent of advertising and marketing executives polled recently said candidates for staff positions typically participate in three job interviews before employment offers are extended. An additional 19% require four or more meetings. ”Arranging multiple meetings with promising candidates has become increasingly common as firms strive to avoid costly hiring mistakes,” said Tracey Turner, executive director of The Creative Group. “This means a lengthier interview process for job seekers, who often meet with would-be peers as well as prospective supervisors.”
Turner noted that this hiring strategy puts applicants’ interpersonal skills to the test. “Companies conduct multiple interviews not only to learn more about prospective hires but also to assess their compatibility with coworkers. During these meetings, candidates must impress various personality types and adapt to their communication styles.”
Rina Shah is a 28 year old political consultant in Washington D.C. When she worked as a Congressional Aide to two different members of Congress she had to go through four interviews which she said wasn’t unusual at all.
Career Coach Lynn Kindler went through no less than three series of multiple interviews (12 total) for the position of Executive Assistant to the Publisher of TexasMonthly magazine back in 1989. “There are still people in high-up positions there today who can vouch for me and remember well how Mike [the editor] used to put the potential assistant through the ringer to make double sure they could handle the rigors of the job (and him!)” she told The Grindstone.
Tara Tyler works as a marketing manager. She said she had to interview with every person in the company. She told The Grindstone:
“I had to set up Skype interviews with each member of the team, find out what their role in the company was, ask questions, and then report my findings (including each team member’s favorite movie) all the while competing for a job with 2 other candidates! Since it is such a small team, each person in the company has a hand in hiring new team members. In the end, one candidate dropped out due to the lengthy and intense process and the team ended up hiring me and my other competitor! It was very worth it though because I got a chance to see how the company really worked and meet all my co-workers before deciding if this was indeed the job for me. And I am happy to say it was!”
According to Dr. Hansen, “The Career Doctor,”: ”Both parties are trying to evaluate whether there is a spark, a level or rapport, and the potential for future greatness. Just as you can’t always tell whether a guy could make a good boyfriend after one date, so too with both job-seekers and employers. Both need the time and multiple contacts to decide whether there is a fit. Some companies can make these decisions after just one interview, but most companies now do at least two or three interviews, often times with a different mix of people. And while it certainly makes economic sense for the employer, it also makes sense for the job-seeker; you need the multiple contact points to make a sound judgment.”
Shannon Mouton of Topaz Consulting told The Grindstone:
“I went through five in-person and one phone interview before I was finally offered the position, which I held for four and a half years. It was a new position and one the company wanted to make sure they got right from the beginning, hence the intense process. I’m proud of my accomplishments while there, I laid the groundwork for many initiatives that have continued and become institutionalized.”
As for how to get through a multi-interview process without killing yourself Turner suggests the following:
- Address individual needs. Emphasize qualities that appeal to the interviewer. For example, when meeting with a senior executive, discuss how you can help the firm meet big-picture objectives. When talking with a project manager, comment on your ability to meet deadlines.
- Stay on message. While you want to target your remarks to each interviewer, be consistent in your comments on general topics, such as your career goals. Providing a uniform impression adds to your credibility, as long as you don’t sound scripted.
- Try the mirroring technique. Using body language and a speaking style similar to that of your interviewer can help him or her feel more at ease in your presence, allowing you to make a stronger connection.
- Meet in the morning. Scheduling meetings at the start of the day can be advantageous, since interviewers are less likely to be tired or distracted.
- Say thank-you. Get a business card from each interviewer so you can send a note expressing appreciation for his or her time. E-mail is also acceptable, but follow up with a formal card.