Are Thirty First-Round Interviews for a Single Position Reasonable?

Kris Dunn Hiring Managers, Interviewing, Recruiting, Talent Acquisition, Uncategorized

I’m Gen X. I’ve seen some things.

Live long enough in the recruiting game, and you’ll have stories to tell.

AWOL Candidates. Hiring Managers under the influence. Ghosting at a level that would make The Blair Witch Project seem like a cartoon.

Do this job long enough, and you’ll become jaded, hardened, free of emotion about the process. Expecting the worse, surprised by nothing.

Until something you haven’t seen before emerges. What could make say, “I’ve never seen that before?”

For me, it was an interview request of massive scale. Delivered without shame.

“Did that hiring manager just ask for thirty first-round interviews for a professional grade position?”

Yes. Yes, she did.

It was a Tuesday in 2021. Like other Tuesdays, there were emails and Zoom. Every once in a while, the phone rings. It’s generally something urgent when the phone rings.

“Can you take a look at the email I just forwarded to you?”

The recruiter in question had forwarded me an email from a hiring manager. It took a bit to find clarity, to understand what I was reading.

“I like these five candidates, please setup myself and the following five peers to interview all candidates in individual thirty-minute calls.”

The recruiter had done her job. Rather than give the hiring manager a bunch of meaningless volume, she had conducted her own screens and interviews and cut it down to five submittals. After all, we talk a lot about what data says with selection and choice. The data is clear: five to six submittals leads to three interviews, which leads to one offer/hire.

That’s the behavioral science of choice behind recruiting.

Give them too many candidates, and they are overwhelmed and won’t take action. Give them too few, and they have FOMO. The middle ground is five to six submittals.

But it turns out that if managers haven’t experienced a hiring cycle before, they have no idea what to expect. And they are deathly afraid of making a mistake.

So I did what you would expect me to do: I reached out to the manager—new to hiring for her team—and offered up sage advice. It went something like this:

“Hey, Dana shared the interview scheduling request with me. I know this is your first hire as a manager, and I wanted to jump in. I think the company put you in that job to make decisions, and the flip side of this is, you’re burning fifteen hours of organizational time.”

That provoked the hiring manager to talk about the value of consensus at the company. I listened for a bit. It’s important to let people get their thoughts out there, right? Did I close my eyes as a way of summoning patience and understanding?

I did. It worked.

The phone call ended with the following agreement: she would spend thirty minutes with each candidate and try to cut it to down to three finalists. I also pre-sold her on the need to cut the final round down to four people interviewing the three finalists rather than six. She’s thinking about that.

The moral of the story. You’ve never seen it all in recruiting, and while you’ll be indignant at times for seemingly ludicrous requests, it’s often fear and uncertainty that are driving the requests.

Good recruiters have to be therapists at times. Get a portfolio to write in and don’t interrupt the patient.