How Many Interviews You Must Do Before You Hire?

How Many Interviews You Must Do Before You Hire?


The answer is easy: until you find the right one. Most probably the first candidate you see will not be the one and many HR administrators are reluctant to make a decision after meeting only one person. Of course there is no exact number for candidate selection but there are some easy steps you can take to find a formula that works for your company.

Telephone or even Video Interview

Save time and effort by starting the interview process with a telephone interview. Skype or a form of video conference is increasingly used for early stage contact. I would still start with the phone. Any technology used for video interviewing can be inconsistent between the interviewer and interviewee. If the first impression with audio only is good and video is the next step a system glitch is not the overriding impression.


Use a list of structured questions for the first phone contact; this is not a freewheeling chat. This is the time to confirm information on the resume and cover some basics. Inquiries about salary expectations should be part of the list. Ask the candidate, “What are you earning now and what your salary expectations for a new position are?” You may give, and hear a range which still can be helpful. The information will save time if your job opening is only slated to pay 10,000 per month and the candidate is already earning 12,000 monthly. A few telephone interviews can also serve as an informal salary survey if all of the candidates you speak to look like a match on paper but are seeking earnings 30 percent higher than your budget.

Be Patient

When a hiring need is urgent and someone sounds just OK over the phone, it can be tempting to bring them in to get the ball rolling. In my opinion, it is better to take a breath and wait for even the first telephone interviews until you have more than a few resumes at hand. It will help with your ranking candidates in order of preference. One of Internal Audit’s KPI questions of Performance Audit and many IA ask, “How long with it take to hire someone for this spot?” Again the right answer is “Hiring someone is easy; hiring the right person can take some time.”

Manage the Process with Head Hunters or Corporate Recruiters

A talented recruiter or search firm should be able to narrow down the field for HR Managers. The best search professionals don’t throw candidates your way to see which ones stick; they identify preferences and style and seek to find a true match. HR administrators should never accept a candidate whom the recruiter hasn’t met in person. If the search firm does not mention this as part of their contract, HR should ask to make their preferences known.


HR administrators should keep in touch with the recruiter to monitor progress and ensure that their search is top of mind and heading in the right direction. When progress is slowing down they may discuss tweaks in responsibilities, required experience, or compensation.

The Top Three

As an internal auditor when we are advising a decision maker to fill a role, I advise to get three strong candidates. In some instances we recommend only two with a backup who is not in the top tier. This third candidate typically ranks lower due to one key factor such as a specific skill, salary requirement, or the need for relocation. Three candidates provide a good comparison and a mix to help identify the most suitable work style. But HR shouldn’t throw in a ringer just to pad the list. If there is only one truly viable candidate and the others are distant comparisons, HR should interview the one. They can then make a decision to pursue others.