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How Many Candidates Should You Interview for a Job? Hiring Best Practices

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Posted On Jun 14, 2024 

A lot of hiring managers ask, “How many candidates should you interview for a job?” What the minimum number of candidates required for an interview is a common riddle faced by many decision-makers in the recruitment process. We know organizations are interviewing more candidates for each role than they used to.

In the challenging and ever-evolving world of business, one of the most important decisions a hiring manager, recruiter, startup founder, or CEO will make is who to bring on board their team. As the backbone of every organization, a quality workforce shapes the success or downfall of a company. With such high stakes, it’s crucial to be equipped with an optimal strategy when conducting interviews.

While there is no universal answer to how many candidates to interview, this blog post explores some key factors to consider when determining the number of candidates to interview for each role.


6 Things to Consider When Determining How Many Candidates to Interview for a Job


1. The Complexity of the Job or Role

The complexity of the job position plays a significant role in determining the number of candidates you should interview. For roles that require advanced skills or specific experience, you might need to interview more candidates to find the ideal match. On the contrary, for positions with less complex requirements, a smaller pool might suffice. Evaluating the complexity of the role will aid in approximating the breadth of your interview pool.

2. Candidate Availability

An equally significant consideration in the number of candidates to interview is the availability of qualified ones. If you are in a field or location with a limited number of qualified candidates, you may need to cast a wider net and interview more individuals. Conversely, in areas with a high concentration of professionals in your required field, you might have a larger pool of qualified applicants, allowing you to be more selective.

3. The Interview-to-Hire Ratio

Another useful method to estimate the number of candidates to interview is the ‘Interview-to-Hire Ratio.’ This ratio represents the number of candidates you need to interview before making a hire. According to research, this ratio can range from 4:1 to 20:1 depending on the industry and the role complexity. Thus, the ratio can help you figure out the potential number of interviews to conduct.

4. Quality over Quantity

While the number of interviews you conduct is crucial, it’s equally important to stress the quality of candidates over the quantity. Interviewing too many candidates can be overwhelming and time-consuming and may not necessarily yield better results. Moreover, it can be detrimental to your employer brand if candidates feel they are merely a number in a long line of interviews. Therefore, it’s essential to maintain a balanced approach and ensure each candidate receives the attention they deserve during the interview process.

5. The ‘Rule of Three’

A good rule of thumb to follow is the ‘Rule of Three,’ which suggests interviewing at least three candidates for every job opening. This allows you to compare and contrast candidates effectively, ensuring a fair hiring process. However, remember that the ‘Rule of Three’ is a guideline, not a strict policy. It should be adjusted according to the role, industry, and quality of the candidates applying.

6. Adaptability is Key

Lastly, remember that flexibility and adaptability are essential in the hiring process. If you haven’t found the right candidate after interviewing a significant number, it might be a signal to revisit the job description, requirements, or recruitment strategies. A successful recruitment process should be fluid and responsive to market conditions, candidate availability, and company needs.


Do Employers Have to Interview All Applicants?


No, that’s not feasible most of the time. In fact, some recruiters have discovered that by reducing friction in the application process (excellent intent) the unintended consequence is too many inbound candidates. When the hiring market is tough, and people find it “too” easy to apply, they’ll apply for lots of jobs quickly. In marketing, this is typically called the “spray and pray” approach. In both cases, targeted efforts yield better results. But what should recruiters or hiring managers do if they’re bombarded with too many applications?


Let Us Help You Cut Down on How Many Candidates You Need to Interview for a Job


In conclusion, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how many candidates you should interview for a job. It’s a decision that requires a clear understanding of the role, the job market, your company’s needs, and the potential talent pool. Always remember: each interview is an investment in your company’s future. Take the time to make strategic and informed decisions. Happy hiring!

LHH can help your organization find the right talent, right now. Get in touch with us today.