If you’re looking for a job, knowing how many candidates make it to the final interview can be nice information to have. It helps you know what you’re up against and your chances of getting hired!
But unfortunately, determining this is not a simple process.
This guide will help you understand how many candidates usually end up in the final interview, and how many rounds of interviews is normal.
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How Many Candidates are Usually Shortlisted for Job Interviews?
From a job seeker’s point of view, the hiring process is fairly straightforward. You fill out an application, wait for an interview invitation, and go through the various steps to explain to hiring managers why you’re the perfect fit for the job.
But behind the scenes, interviewing applicants and finding the right person is a massive undertaking. This process starts by reviewing applications and deciding who to move through to the initial interview round.
Hiring managers can approach this task in many ways. Some may review each applicant’s qualifications/resume manually while others rely on the applicant tracking software to rank applicants.
Either way, hiring managers must shortlist applicants to determine who they invite to come in for an interview. But how many are usually shortlisted for a job interview?
Ultimately, it all depends on the job at hand. Some positions require more attention than others. For example, managerial roles and high-level employees often have more responsibilities.
Those jobs typically have more baseline requirements from candidates. Not only that but hiring managers want to find someone who can fit with the company culture and whose values align with the direction things are going. That means going through more potential hires to find the perfect fit.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, entry-level positions don’t have such high demands. Organizations aren’t looking for the most skilled or experienced individuals to fulfill roles. Instead, they want moldable people who can grow with the company.
Therefore, it requires less work to find a suitable applicant.
All that said, the average number of candidates shortlisted for a job is around five to ten people.
Of course, demand and the overall job market will dictate how many candidates hiring managers bring in. Job postings for highly sought-after positions might receive hundreds of applications. If hiring managers have difficulty narrowing candidates down, they might do more than 10.
Another factor to consider is how the hiring process works at that particular company. Some organizations take time to find those five to ten applicants and schedule an interview.
Note that the process usually starts with a phone interview to determine who moves on to the first in-person interviews. During the phone screening, the recruiter will be narrowing down the number of candidates who will be invited to in-person interviews. Just because you receive a call, doesn’t mean you’ve made it. Treat the phone interview as a regular interview. Prepare for these common phone interview questions as soon as you have begun applying for jobs.
However, if you do receive a phone call after you’ve applied for a job, it is a good sign that you have the skills and requirements a recruiter is looking for.
How Many Candidates are in the Second Interview?
Reaching the second round of interviews is a big deal. It means you’ve made it as a serious contender for the open position. But how many candidates end up making it this far?
There is no concrete number because various factors come into play.
The first is the job itself. Different positions have distinct interview needs. We’ve already covered how more demanding jobs require more scrutiny, increasing the number of candidates who go through to the interview round. But some jobs also require different types of interviews.
We won’t get into the specifics here, but some companies will separate the hiring process into several stages that analyze unique facets of your employability. For example, some might dedicate an interview about your work history and skills. Then, they move on to the behavioral interview that puts your work ethic and values under a magnifying glass!
In those cases, hiring managers usually remove people from the running as they learn more. So you might start with a shortlist of ten people. But as you move through to the second interview stage, you may only remove one or two.
It all depends on the job.
Other considerations include how the company conducts interviews and how many open positions are available. For example, perhaps the company has several openings for the same role. It makes sense to interview more candidates, given the multiple positions available.
When that happens, it’s likely that they will move a greater number of people to the second round in order to fill more than one job. Companies can also interview candidates in groups, a process where multiple candidates are all in the room interviewing at the same time, This is rare but does happen.
There’s no way to know for sure how many candidates will move onto the second round of an interview. Some companies may not even do a second round at all! It all depends on how the organization approaches the process, what the position entails, and how many people are up for consideration.
How Many Candidates Make it to the Final Interview?
This is the final stage before a potential job offer. But how many candidates usually make it to the final interview?
Not to sound like a broken record, but it depends!
The average is around two to four people. Like a funnel, the number of candidates decreases during the previous interview phases until the hiring manager narrows it down to a very small group of contenders.
As always, there is no defined structure for how hiring managers will get to this point. Most decision-makers like to meet with potential hires multiple times before they extend a job offer. It’s a way to know that they’re making the right decisions.
However, others prefer to trust their gut and make an offer after only one or two interviews. If you’re lucky, you may not even need a third interview.
This can change if companies have several positions open. They can be for the same role or one entirely different. Hiring managers can bring candidates into a final interview even if they don’t feel they’re the right fit for the job they applied for initially.
When that happens, the company has a genuine interest in the applicant but not for the original role. So, they may continue the interview process to learn more about the job-seeker and offer them a different position. Situations like that are rare, but they do occur.
There are no hard and fast rules about the interview process, so these situations aren’t unheard of.
In other cases, hiring managers might bring a single candidate to the final interview round. That doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get a job offer. It may indicate that you’re the only candidate who is qualified for the position. You still have to impress the decision-makers to get a job offer.
If you don’t, the company might end the hiring process and start back at square one!
Don’t rest on your laurels if you make it to the final interview. There are zero guarantees, so do your best to prepare for common final interview questions to help your odds!
How Many Rounds of Interviews is Normal?
Here’s a common question that job-seekers always wonder. How many rounds of interviews is normal?
The “standard” is between two and four, but there’s no way to know precisely. Companies have their unique hiring processes. Even then, they might stray from the formula depending on the job, the number of applicants, and what happens during the many interviews they do.
As we said earlier, some hiring managers like to move fast and extend offers on the first or second round of interviews. Others make it through multiple phases and never offer a job to applicants! There are far too many variables to give a concrete number.
Organizations may have unfamiliar hiring processes. You can and should always ask for clarification about what to expect during your first interview.
Hiring a new employee can be a complex process, and even the most experienced manager might change things depending on the job market and their experience.
You may even encounter positions that require more than four rounds of interviews. These days, companies go above and beyond to find the right fit. It’s about more than qualifications. They also look into how you fit into the culture and the team they are building.
Hiring managers might put you through a handful of interviewers to better understand what you offer. One might focus on your education and work experience.
Then, you might have to prove your competency or have a more loosely structured conversation where hiring managers gauge your personality and behavior.
You never know what you’ll experience. Multiple rounds of interviews can be frustrating. That’s especially true if you make it to the final round and never receive a job offer.
Despite that, you must respect the process and do what you can to make yourself stand out. Just look at it this way: Every interview you do hones your skills and helps you make improvements for the next one.
Each interview holds value for you as an applicant. You have the opportunity to learn about the company and the people you will be working with.
What is the Purpose of Multiple Interview Rounds?
There are many reasons why hiring managers conduct multiple rounds of interviews.
The obvious primary goal is to determine the best fit for the open role. A single 30-minute conversation only provides so much information. You can’t explain your experience and capabilities in that short period.
Consider yourself lucky to get several interview opportunities. It gives you multiple chances to talk about your achievements and learn more details about the job and the company.
Hiring managers might also want multiple opinions. When that’s the case, you may have a panel interview. Panel interviews allow multiple people to meet with you at the same time, all hearing the same information.
This saves everybody time while allowing them to hear the same information from candidates and weigh in with their opinions and thoughts.
Regardless of the reasons, it’s about being diligent in choosing the best candidate possible.
Understanding how many candidates make it to the final interview can bring some comfort or optimism during the stressful process of job searching. However, it’s best to focus on what you can control!
Do your research, prepare, and present yourself well. Everything else is out of your hands.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.