Multiple screenings stem from the recession, when job hunters faced extra scrutiny. But now, candidates just want to sit down with the boss and direct co-workers.

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The job market clearly has heated up. Job fair notices hit my desk daily. And then there are the frustrated emails from job candidates.

It’s a different frustration from a few years ago when it was harder to nab a job interview than it is now to get through a day without hearing the word Trump. The new frustration is from job candidates who are getting interviews — more of them, in fact, than they’d like.

I’m not talking about someone who is juggling multiple job offers. That’s a lovely situation, but not if it involves sending excellent candidates through a long series of interviews for a position.

“I’m on round four,” complained one eager applicant. “I need a decision.”

A recent essay in Workforce magazine and a newsletter from a professional recruiter hit on the problem. Good job candidates are being pulled back for four, five or more interviews, often at financial and emotional expense.

Kris Dunn, a contributing editor at Workforce, wrote that it now takes an average of 63 business days to fill a job, or 21 days longer than it did five years ago. He said that’s inefficient and doesn’t do a better job detecting “fit” for the job.

Nick Corcodilos, a recruiter who blogs at “Ask The Headhunter,” said the problem with multiple interviews usually begins at the screening stage, where generalists are assigned to pare the candidate pool without having detailed knowledge about the nuances of the job.

You can trace the explosion of multiple interviews to the 2008 recession and subsequent job market collapse. Employers nearly had stopped hiring. When they decided to fill a job, they could be very, very particular. They had a sea of downsized talent to choose from. And, in many cases, they were trying to save money, too, so they weren’t in a rush to hire.

When hundreds of applicants vied for a single opening, it’s not hard to understand why initial screenings were required. So, phone screenings, online questionnaires and interviews with front-line human resource staff preceded contact with any line manager or bigger boss.

The argument in favor of multiple interviews is that it gives more people a chance to gauge “cultural fit.” While that’s worked well for some group-interviewing companies (notably Southwest Airlines) it hasn’t proved to be very effective when multiple individual interviews are lined up like dominoes.

The problem, Dunn observed, is that interviewers often don’t sit down with each other to compare perceptions, so it’s just a waste of time.

Job applicants beg for quick interview access with the manager they’d directly report to. They want early contact with the person who knows the day-in, day-out details of the job and who would supervise them. If there’s no “click” personality-wise, it’s important to learn that early.

Job applicants also want access to their possible co-workers and the freedom to ask questions — unsupervised by higher-ups.


Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star. Email her at dstafford@kcstar.com.