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Overinterview... and underachieve: Too many interviews can chase away potential employee

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 5:35 p.m.

Employers who want best-in-class employees need to have best-in-class interview processes.

Hirers still can afford to take their time and be particular in hiring for the vast majority of jobs. But Kevin Pallardy, managing partner at BPI Group, a human resource consultancy, says it's time for many companies to up their interview game.

During the recession, he said, it was normal for employers to take 60 to 75 days from first interview to job offer. That was nearly double the pre-2007 norm of 40 to 45 days. In an improving job market, though, they're likely to lose good candidates in two or three months.

“Hirers don't want to make a mistake,” Pallardy said.

They're scouring applicants for the best skill and personality fit for the organization. That's important.

But good candidates are looking for “fit” too, and an interview process that drags on too long, has too many hoops to jump through or is inexpertly handled will cause great applicants to go elsewhere.

Pallardy suggests that three to five interviews should be the optimum to do initial candidate screening, check for technical skills and experience, and meet with the direct supervisor and work team.

Any more than that, and it's a drag on the time and resources of the hirer and the applicant.

I recently heard about a job seeker who had 17 pre-employment interviews at one place. Not good.

Employers need to make sure the right people are conducting job interviews. And applicants need to apply only for the jobs that are absolutely right for them. Those two steps cut down a lot of unnecessary interviews.

And it's fine, Pallardy said, for candidates who have been through interviews to reconnect with the employer if they haven't heard back within the promised time.

If after a couple of weeks, there has been no follow-up, “reconnect,” he said.

“Stay on their radar screen and show them you're still interested and can offer good ideas. Don't be a stalker, but reinforce that you could be of value to them.”

Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star.

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