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Ask the Recruiter: Candidates can expect up to six interviews for top jobs


Feb. 19, 2016

Question: How many interviews will I have with a recruiter before being presented to the client? How many are on the phone and how many are in person?

Jim Zaniello, Vetted Solutions
The number of interviews with recruiters and with the hiring organization continues to change to meet today’s market demands. We take candidates through three very different conversations prior to presenting them to a client. At least one of them is in person and, more often, so is a second. Skype and other tools are being used more often for some early conversations with candidates prior to an in-person interview. However, given the rate at which top talent is being snapped up, search firms and hiring organizations need to move quickly regardless of the number of interviews. We’re also bringing short-list candidates back into our office for a meeting prior to their final interview with our client.

For a CEO position, search committees are conducting at least two interviews and some now want a third with the top candidate. Additionally, if the search is to replace a long-serving executive, the board will often be involved in the final round of interviews. As for senior staff searches, organizations are conducting three in-person interviews more frequently and sometimes more. This is sometimes impacted by whether or not the organization involves senior staff and staff reports in the interview process.

Liza Wright, Lochlin Partners
Generally speaking, candidates can expect to have one in-depth phone interview and, if that goes well, one in-person interview with the recruiter. The phone interview is designed to hit the high points of a candidate’s background and to ensure that their experience meets or exceeds the requirements of the position. Once candidates are selected for an in-person interview with a recruiter, they can expect a much more in-depth interview experience.

Good recruiters will spend one to two hours doing a “deep dive” on a candidate’s background, examining the evolution of their career. They will probe on high points, low points, key accomplishments, motivation for transitions they’ve made, as well as strengths and weaknesses vis-à-vis the role for which they are recruiting.

Recruiters also spend a significant amount of time evaluating a candidate’s character, values, and overall culture fit with the client organization. The in-person interview should be a two-way conversation—one in which the recruiter learns about and evaluates the candidate’s background for a particular search, and one in which the candidate can ask questions about the client organization, position responsibilities, expectations and overall culture.


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