Six rounds of interviews? An endless loop of the talent search process


"A six-stage interview? Keep that job for someone who is dying for it because it is surely not me".

This remark, while resonating with a broad audience, sparked a flurry of responses. Some shared their tales of enduring more than three rounds of interviews, only to come up empty-handed in the end.

Amadi chimed in with a dose of scepticism, questioning, “Three-stage interviews are jarring because what are you asking me on the third interview that you could not ask on the first and second?”

In today's job market, it's not uncommon for companies to subject candidates to up to six rounds of interviews, all in the name of getting to know them better. While the intention might be to thoroughly vet potential employees, this exhaustive process often ends up being both frustrating and time-consuming for candidates.

As a result, many job seekers are left feeling disillusioned by the experience, with a lingering sense of dissatisfaction.

Damian Ndolo, a human resources manager, says the purpose of these multiple stages is to allow graduated engagement for the candidate to get to know the employer better and vice versa.

“It also creates the bonding between the two so that should the candidate be chosen, then they will be at least be comfortable and appreciate the role he/she will undertake,” he adds.

While candidates may encounter different interviewers across the interview stages, Mr Ndolo explains that this approach allows each interviewer to gain a unique perspective on the interviewee, enriching their overall understanding.

“The higher the rank a candidate is undertaking, the more likely they will be engaged in the various stages both formally and informally,” he elaborates.

Nonetheless, in certain situations, the position a candidate initially applied for could be redefined or adjusted as they progress through the interview stages.

He says: “For example, an applicant could have applied for position X and then through the interview, the organisation may realise I have potential in role Y, which probably was not advertised. My interview in position X could be repurposed for role Y. That may open a new line of interviews to align you with that role.”

However, Mr Ndolo puts a caveat on the interview process by saying, “Three rounds are sufficient. For a very senior role, if you go beyond five, you are wasting time.”

Complementing this viewpoint with a focus on candidate experience, Muthoni Njeru, a talent director, highlights the drawbacks of prolonged interviews. She points out that extended processes can turn away potential candidates, especially when they find themselves in a drawn-out waiting period for feedback, like from three weeks to as long as three months.

As Ken Blanchard once said, “Feedback is the breakfast for champions,” getting information on how you performed in the interview is crucial at each level. Since most interviewers ask an applicant whether there are any questions, Ms Njeru says it is prudent to enquire on how you faired in the interviews.

“What element do you think I need to improve on this interview? Through this interview process, are there any areas of improvement that you would recommend for me, or what stood out for you? This will help you assess yourself on your strengths and weaknesses,” she highlights.

Ms Njeru advises that candidates undergoing multiple rounds of interviews should feel entitled to inquire about what is anticipated from them following one stage before moving on to the next.

“Ask even how many rounds the interview process will be. Keep abreast if they take too long to respond, and send an e-mail enquiring the progress.”

On the flip side, Ms Njeru points out that a lack of feedback or silence from the employer, especially after being shortlisted, should be seen as a warning sign. She also mentions that there are platforms available, like Glassdoor, which allow candidates to explore the experiences of previous applicants, providing valuable insights to help them gauge the situation.

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