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How to Backfill a Position: Strategies and Alternatives

How many callbacks does it take to land the perfect new hire? Figuring out this ratio can be a balancing act, and as an employer, you want to streamline the hiring process as much as possible.


Many would agree that the longer the job interview process, the more taxing, draining, and stressful it becomes. Returning for multiple interviews increases the pressure and causes candidates to set their heart on a job more than they might with just one interview, which may make it a tougher blow if they don’t get hired.


While the interviewee may not always relish a long interview process, there are reasons for a company to consider hosting multiple interviews for certain positions.


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Remote interviewing today

In today’s pandemic environment, virtual interviews are becoming normalized and advantageous for employers seeking the right candidates.


Remote interviewing decreases travel time for prospective hires and their costs, potentially allowing the interviewee to arrive at the virtual interview more prepared to discuss their qualifications, and less stressed about environmental factors.


Employers may also have the ability to interview more candidates per day to find the right candidate sooner. According to Forbes, 54% of surveyed employers saw a faster recruitment process through virtual interviews.


Industry standards for job interviews

When deciding how many interviewing steps to include in the screening process at your company, it might be helpful to know what other professionals are doing. According to an Indeed interview timeline, the time between applicant submissions and actually hiring for the new role can take up to eight weeks or more. Items that take time include internal communications, detailed candidate screening, multiple interview rounds and follow-ups.


Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of adopting a longer job interview process.


Advantages of a long interview process

When you’re hiring for an important role that requires a special skill set, it’s critical to get the right person for the job. Nearly half of employers (48%) spend just 15-30 minutes on a full interview. Is this enough time to determine if someone has the skills required to excel in the role? There are certainly pros to hosting a longer job interview process that gives you a more in-depth look at your candidates. These perks include:


1. Narrowing the selection

Holding a second or third round of interviews allows you to weed out the initial applicants who looked good on paper but didn’t measure up in the first discussion. You’ll feel more confident that the second or third round of candidates is highly qualified and will allow the hiring manager to make the best decision.


2. Finding out who performs consistently

Some people perform exceptionally well in job interviews simply because they’re good at talking. As a hiring manager, you have to ensure that the people you hire have the technical and interpersonal skills needed to succeed in a role, not just the ability to talk about how great they would be for the position. On the flip side, other candidates who might be exceptional employees may lack the confidence to sell themselves in a single 15-minute interview.


Interviewees are human. People have ups and downs, and unfortunately, this can impact how they perform in an interview. By creating multiple interviewing steps, you get a true sense of how people behave regularly, which can help you determine who is right for the position.


3. Spending more time learning about candidates

The more times you speak to a candidate, the more you’ll learn about them. Sometimes you might like what you hear, and other times, the information you learn might save you a headache down the line by turning you off of hiring them. Really getting to know someone outside of their skills and education can also help you determine if they will fit in with the company culture, which can be extremely important.


4. Contact with higher-ranking managers

If your company has multiple levels of management, senior managers might not have time to partake in the first round of interviews. In some cases, companies will conduct an initial round of phone interviews to determine which applicants are worth bringing in to speak to upper management. This is a good way to save time.


Drawbacks of multiple interviews

While it’s clear there are many reasons to hold multiple job interviews for a key role, there are a few downsides to such a lengthy process.


1. It costs the company time and money

Holding a multistep interview process costs the company time and money because the employees handling the hiring process have to dedicate additional hours to interviewing candidates that could have been spent on different tasks.


2. You’re taking up other people’s time

Candidates are actively seeking employment and might already have full-time jobs. The more time you take from them in a multistep interview process, the less time they have to continue their job hunt elsewhere. Ask for multiple interviews only if you’re truly serious about the person and have narrowed down your selection significantly.


3. Multiple interviews don’t always add value

Going through the motions of holding two or three interviews is pointless if the person doing the interviewing isn’t skilled in this department. If each round is conducted by the same person, are you really getting more out of each conversation? To make it worthwhile, each step of the process has to give the hiring manager new information to work with.


What jobs justify a longer interview process?

Naturally, some jobs require a longer interview process than others. Which jobs justify holding two or more rounds of interviews, and which ones should stick to a single meeting? Consider holding multiple interviews for roles that:

  • Require the person to handle direct reports
  • Demand a specific skill set that you cannot learn enough about from one conversation
  • Require the person to work with multiple department heads
  • Are new to the company and will be heavily defined by this individual
  • Would be useful to see the person in action before determining if they can handle the work (e.g., a trial run/test task)

For jobs that are simple and require basic skills that most working-age individuals possess without extensive post-secondary education, it’s excessive to hold multiple interviews. Stick to one interview if:

  • The position is entry-level
  • The pay is minimum wage
  • There are no benefits included as part of the role
  • There’s a training period that the hire will undergo regardless of prior experience
  • Skills for the job can be learned on the job or through training

If the job you’re hiring for falls into a category that suggests a single interview, simply make sure that your conversation is thorough enough to help you get all the information you need. Over half of employers (52%) spend 30 minutes or less talking to a candidate when conducting a full interview. If you feel that 30 minutes is not enough, don’t be afraid to invest more time to ensure that all of your questions are answered without having to call the interviewee back on a separate occasion.


Tips for successful interviewing

Whether you’re holding one round of interviews or three rounds, what matters most is that you’re asking the right questions. Nobody wants to waste time, so ensure that regardless of how many times you’re speaking to a candidate, you’re getting the most you can out of each experience. To be a successful interviewer, you should:

  • Be knowledgeable about the role in question
  • Be able to answer questions about the company
  • Actively listen to the responses given
  • Be objective in hiring the person best for the role and company, not who you like best as a person
  • Possess emotional maturity
  • Exude a pleasant, calming demeanor to set interviewees at ease
  • Be able to spot the talent that could be most valuable to the company

If you are able to bring these qualities to the table, the number of steps in the interviewing process won’t matter as much because you’ll be able to pull valuable information from the candidates when you speak to them.

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