How many candidates should be interviewed for a job?

So you have posted the position and gotten 500 responses.  Of these 490 are from people who could not possibly have read the position description but simply want a job, any job, and are hoping that you can see from their whole working life history where they might fit in your company. 

What do you do about the ones that really might fit, if only their resumes spoke to the particular job requirements?  How many good ones do you think you lose to this? It takes quite a lot of time to weed them out and leaves you with 10 resumes from people who might actually fit.  Of these, 7 actually seem to have most of the requirements for the job.  How many should you interview?

First, a phone screen is in order. Or is seven too many?  What do you actually have time for?  How many messages do you leave?  What are your criteria for the call? Is this a depressed (and depressing) job seeker who, while seeming to have the qualifications, just won’t fit into your upbeat environment?  How is their English – do they speak in standard business language or do they use a lot of slang? (Industry jargon is OK, but street speak may not be what you need for this position.)  Are they really looking for your opportunity or is the commute too long, the location inconvenient, they really can’t do the travel this job needs, etc. 

You now have reduced the number to 5.  How many do you bring in for a face-to-face interview?  And how many people are in the meeting?  Can it be done by just the hiring manager?  Or do you need (really!) a committee? Do you do the interviews all in the same day?  Or one at a time as the committee can find time in their schedules? 

Does the hiring manager interview first and then a committee or  first the panel and then the hiring manager? 

How does this process reflect on the culture of the company?  How to the best candidates respond?  Do you lose any because of the process? 

Of course, it all depends, but what is your ideal practice? Please do tell me what you think!


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