Interview Relay Race

4 Effective Strategies for Job Interview Scheduling

Fourth time's a charm? When it comes to job interviews, it seems so. Earlier this year, a Robert Half survey of more than 2,100 CFOs from among the largest U.S. markets revealed a candidate typically interviews with four different people before receiving an offer. The Chicago, Denver, Des Moines, Houston, Phoenix, St. Louis and Salt Lake City areas are on the low end of the spectrum, with an average of three job interviews.

Three members of a hiring committee smile for the camera

While a thorough screening process is seemingly beneficial, it could backfire on a company. Hiring decisions made by committee—rather than simply by one's possible future supervisors—could garner the least objectionable candidate instead of the best–suited. Furthermore, a slow hiring process may disengage the most qualified candidates and unwittingly encourage them to accept competing offers.

With high demand for specialized financial candidates, competition among employers has increased. To avoid losing the most promising candidates, companies should optimize their job interview scheduling to be as efficient as possible. Here are four ways to accelerate your hiring process:

  1. Be flexible. Schedule the interview at the convenience of both the interviewee and your internal interviewers—even if the time falls outside normal business hours. Many qualified candidates will be currently employed, so asking applicants to make several trips to your office could make things difficult. Plan concise, back-to-back meetings to preempt the need for return visits. Ease is the key.
  2. Make the questions count. Inquire about topics directly tied to the job description and consistent with the agreed-upon criteria for the position. Also, make sure the applicant is not asked the same questions over and over. Assign each interviewer a different focus to form a more complete picture of the candidate's personality and work style.
  3. Write it down. With more than one candidate and multiple interview rounds, it can be easy to forget what actually happened during an interview. Have each interviewer take notes with highlights of the discussion. Then, schedule a formal debriefing to share and compare them. Just don't wait too long.
  4. Reserve judgment. Try not to form an opinion too quickly about someone, and refrain from influencing any colleagues still scheduled to meet with the job seeker. Wait until after all interviews are completed and each party has participated before evaluating candidates and making a decision. A little patience at this stage can be a virtue.

For more hiring advice, please visit Robert Half's Industry Research.