Are You Over-Interviewing and Underwhelming Your Candidate?

Have you ever lost a top-notch candidate to a competing offer, but it wasn’t about the money?  Timing is as essential as compensation when it comes to snagging top talent.  Is it possible to over-interview?  Having too many stages in the interview phase can create candidate confusion and fatigue.  The key is balancing the task of thoroughly interviewing a candidate but also moving quickly.

Let’s look at a standard interview process from start to finish.  This may include an introductory phone interview, a second interview followed by an onsite or team interview, possibly a case study or project presentation, a senior leadership interview, and finally, an offer.  While this is a thorough and detailed way to identify top talent, what if your competitor is moving faster?


Here’s how to move the interview process along quickly, while also being thorough and thoughtful in your candidate selection:


  • Ask the candidate if they have any other companies or competing offers in the cue. If you don’t ask, they typically won’t offer up this information.  Yes, almost always, they willingly share about the other interviews they are having.  Ask as many questions as they are willing to answer such as:

“What stage of the interview process are you in?”

“When do you think they will make a decision on their hiring?”

“Are you close to getting an offer with them?”


If this is a candidate that you are eager to interview, this information will allow you to set your timeline accordingly.


2)  Gather all the intel up front so that when you do make an offer, it’s the best one they get.  One of my favorite questions to ask a candidate is: “If you receive two competing offers and they are similar in pay, how will you choose your next company?”  This puts the candidate in the position to tell you why they would choose you over a competitor…or vice versa.  The answer to this question is rarely about salary.  Instead, candidates typically mention things like company culture, benefits, equity offerings or even the length of their commute.  Take notes and hold on to this information, it will save you time in the critical offer stage.


3)  Organize the interview process so that each step of the process is unique and engaging for the candidate.  Too often, inexperienced hiring managers will ask a set of questions focused on only the resume and skill set.  If each interviewer asks the exact same questions, the candidate may feel their time is not being valued and they may feel interview fatigue.  Map out questions in advance and split them among the interview team.  The candidate will appreciate your thoughtfulness.


4)  If the interview process is taking longer than expected, check in with your candidate at least once per week.  As you check in along the way, be sure to ask your candidate, “How are your other interviews coming along?  If you receive an offer, would you please be sure to let me know?”  If you have multiple finalists that are still under review and you think it may take a few weeks, you may want to offer to meet your candidate for a quick coffee or happy hour, to keep them engaged and excited.


5)  What about candidates that are not chosen?  If two candidates made it to the offer stage but only one candidate accepted, consider sending a small gift or thank you note acknowledging the time, effort and attention it took to get to the offer stage.  Quite possibly this candidate will remember you when they are on the job search again.

Crafting a thoughtful and engaging interview process is key to not only attracting the right talent but to getting a “Yes” once your offer is extended.  Take the time before you post the position or begin working with a top staffing firm like The Canon Group to map out your process and then, stick to it.