One interview is too few and seven, too many.

Candidates need to take time off for an interview and you need to run a thorough process so that you’re making informed hiring decisions. The interview process is a balance between time and quality.

To know how many interviews you should schedule, first you need to know what interviews you need to conduct.

Geoff Smart and Randy Street (co authors of ‘Who’) suggest that there are 3 types of interviews every employer should run.

  1. The Prescreen Interview

  2. The Who Interview

  3. The Focused Interview

The Prescreen Phone Interview

The prescreen interview is usually done over a phone call and its main objective is to assess if a potential candidate meets the basic requirements for the job. This interview should take between 30 to 45 minutes and can be scheduled during a candidate’s lunch hour or just slightly before or after official working hours.

If a candidate passes the prescreen interview, they’re invited for an in-person Who interview.

The Who interview

This interview uncovers the candidate’s career history and is the most common interview employers run. Here, you get to dig into a candidate’s past work experiences, accomplishments, reasons for leaving past employer, etc.

Once the Who interview is completed, invite suitable candidates for an in-person Focused interview.

The Focused Interview

The objective of the Focused interview is to dig into the details further. If you have specific concerns about the candidate, use this interview to assess further. The Focused interview is also a great chance to introduce the candidate to team members to test for culture fit.

Timing and Interviewers

While the prescreen interview can be done over a 30 minute phone call, the Who and Focused Interviews should be done in person and should take between an hour to three hours each depending on the seniority of the candidate.

Both the Who and Focused interviews should be conducted by the hiring manager while the prescreen interview can be conducted by the recruiter or HR business partner.

What if multiple people need to interview the candidate?

If the interview process requires multiple stakeholders to be involved in assessing the candidate then invite them to attend the Who and Focused Interviews with the hiring manager. Try to avoid scheduling separate interviews for different stakeholders for three main reasons:

  1. it prolongs the process.

  2. it results in candidates being asked the same questions multiple times

  3. it’s easier for interviewers to discuss their assessment of a candidate when the interviews are done together. If each stakeholder interviews a candidate separately, they are forced to depend on their memory and notes on the interview to share feedback with other interviewers.

What about interview assignments?

Incorporating an interview assignment is a great way to assess candidates. However, it doesn’t have to extend the interview process. Simply incorporate the assignment in to the Focused Interview session to save time.

If you plan it properly, all you need is two in person interviews.

Navin Muruga