Category Archives: Job Interviewing

Death By Interview

by Karen Rae Horwitz, President, JobGiraffe

She had superior experience…death by interview, karen horwitz
He had terrific skills…
And now… they’re lost forever.

Such a shame.

Do we know what killed them? (Or at least what killed our client’s chances for hiring either of these great candidates?)

Death by INTERVIEW (gasp)!

Death by Interview is a malady that was first noted in 2009. Yes, companies were laying off and firing far more people than they were hiring, but in those few instances where an opening existed, the first signs of this serious condition were being seen.

Offers that were once made following a second interview were suddenly absent. Then, at the third interview, a small sensation of repetition was observed, followed by an increase in unnecessary pain on the fourth interview. Uncertainty set in during the fifth interview and by the sixth meeting it was too late – the patient or, excuse me, candidate, couldn’t be saved. Any sense of excitement or enthusiasm for the position, or desire to join the team or admiration for the firm itself, was crushed. The candidate’s only hope was to take another job!

As President of JobGiraffe for over 20 years, much of my time is spent studying the numbers – statistics that have held true, for the most part, year after year even through wild economic gyrations. Yet in 2009 something was different. Suddenly the amount of interviews required to produce an offer took a startling jump and even more shocking, all of these interviews were not resulting in an accepted offer!

My staff watched many great candidates walk away from great positions because the process our clients were putting them through had just become too long. What was accomplished by asking a candidate to return 7 different times to meet 7 different people? Were HR managers and/or department heads simply too afraid to make a hiring mistake?  Did more visits mean a better hire?

The epidemic continued unidentified until I read an article last year by Dr. John Sullivan that put a name to the crisis.  Dr. Sullivan’s article accurately pointed out all the symptoms we had been observing – plus, it also noted more visits did not make a better hire, and frequently resulted in no hire at all.

Dr. Sullivan cites Google as a firm that has justifiably earned a reputation of demanding a double-digit number of interviews. Its justification was that because hiring impacts everyone that the new hire interacts with, “everyone at the firm should be able to interview a candidate.”

Fortunately, its well-earned Death By Interview reputation forced Google to eventually conduct internal research that demonstrated that “after four interviews, you get diminishing returns.” And since Google is interviewing for positions that require advanced skills and innovation, it’s time to realize that for most jobs, any number beyond three interviews is probably unnecessary.

The JobGiraffe staff had been alerting our clients to the dangers of this disease all along, but sadly, not all took action quickly enough, and some candidates were still needlessly lost.  But, as we prepare to close 2014 and the job market continues to heat up, great candidates are getting harder and harder to find, and the most talented individuals will not tolerate this unnecessary practice.

It’s obvious that employers are simply going to have to face the hard truth of the hiring environment and come to decisions earlier in the process or face losing the best candidates. Therefore, I confidently predict that this outbreak of ‘Death By Interview’ will be cured very soon.

Karen Rae Horwitz is President of JobGiraffe and is a noted expert on recruiting, staffing, and employment issues. Formerly Paige Personnel Services, JobGiraffe has offices in Chicago, Downers Grove, Schaumburg, and Vernon Hills, Illinois. 

Karen Rae can be reached at KRH@JobGiraffe.com.