Through conversations with employers over the past two years, a common theme of headcount when hiring was present. Gone were the days when large corporations would use a ‘range’ for their hiring target, now these recruiters were being charged with not going over a specific number. You knew it was bad when large accounting firms were actually worried about hiring too many accountants!
The result was a more stringent hiring process as the cost of poor hiring was exacerbated by the lack of wiggle room in the headcount. During the fall semester of 2009, I heard stories of longer “final round” interviews. Instead of meeting with 2-3 individuals or groups over the course of a day, students were now interviewing with 6-8 individuals/groups during the course of the day(s). One student was flown to NYC three times by a large investment bank before she received an offer. A group of students traveled to Cincinnati for what they were told was the final round of interviews, only to have to travel two weeks later to present a case study to senior leadership because the leadership felt they needed more time with the potential hires prior to making a decision. Last example was a student who had a three-day (dinner on Wednesday evening followed by two days of interviews) final round experience – talk about time with an individual prior to hiring.
It should be noted, these experiences occurred when students interviewed for entry-level opportunities. Alumni who interview for senior leadership positions expect multiple days/levels of interviews, however the ramped up experience for lower level positions should be a cautionary tale for those conducting a job hunt. Some tips to help survive the day(s):
- Be Consistent in Your Interviews: The content of your answers (examples, dates, numbers, etc.) need to be consistent from interview to interview to ensure no red flags are raised when comparing feedback from the various interviewers. For example, during one interview you to have led a certain project and then during a later interview you indicate that you were one of a team of individuals who led the project…that is a major red flag.
- Energy Level: By the end of day one or two of interviews, you are going to be tired, do whatever you can to keep your energy levels high. Remember, the 4:00pm interviewer was not present at 9:00am; each interview needs to start fresh.
- New Information: Anyone who has had multiple interviews for a position will know what it is like to rehash the same examples and answer the same questions 3-4 times in a day. While the example or story might feel hackneyed to you, it is new information for the hiring manager. Do not gloss over important details – take your time explaining your answer as if it were the first time you were delivering this information.
With the economy still tight, one should expect a more extensive interviewing gauntlet. What are your tips for those who may be experiencing an intense interview process?