How many interviews does it take to get a job?

  | James Innes

Many job applicants are surprised to find that, having survived an initial interview, they are then invited back for a second, third or exceptionally even a fourth interview before a formal job offer is made. Is the recruiting company so inefficient in their hiring practice that it takes them so long to make a decision or are they not convinced by you as a candidate?

While the answer may possibly be yes, there is likely to be a more logical reason for the multi - interview approach. First of all, you are likely to be interviewed by different people at each stage of the interview process. A Human Resources Manager, for example, might be interested to see whether you would be a good cultural fit for the organisation, whereas the hiring manager will be more concerned with whether you have the specific skills needed for a job. If the position crosses several functional areas or departments in a company, then representatives of those teams may want to meet you. And, in multinationals, it is not uncommon for regional or even international management to have a role in the hiring process.

And, if you are interviewing for a senior role in a company, you should expect to undergo several interviews. They are trying to fill an important position in their organisation, which will likely have important internal and external responsibilities. Hiring mistakes at that level can be expensive, so it is normal that a recruiting company wants to have the input of a number of senior people on a candidate before a job offer is made.

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If you do find yourself invited back for a second, or even more interviews, regard it as a good sign. You are still in the game, and they are definitely interested in you. Now time to prepare.

Treat each interview on its merit and take nothing for granted. Don’t relax and assume that, just because you are meeting them again, that the job is in the bag. Far from it! Prepare just as thoroughly as if you were going for the first interview. Use the knowledge you have gained from your initial encounter as to the requirements of the job, the experience required and their company culture to inform the answers you prepare when thinking about likely questions in an interview. Also, try and find out who you will be meeting during follow-up interviews, their title and area of functional responsibility. If they are from HR, then consider issues of culture, fit, and style. If they are from the functional discipline, look to bring out how your skills and experience meet the requirements of the position. And, if you are meeting with senior management, emphasise your leadership skills and team-working ability.

For some roles, it may take multiple interviews to land a job. If this is the case, be prepared, treat each interview on its own merit, and try to judge you audience. Remember, if they invite you back, they are still interested, So do your research, prepare your answers to questions you might be asked in an interview, and use the knowledge you have gained during the whole process to your advantage.

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