If you’re wondering how many candidates a company interviews for a job, or how many interviews it takes to get a job, then this article is for you.
I’m going to share the averages I’ve seen as a recruiter for:
We’ll also look at some other interesting statistics like what percentage of total applicants get an interview (it’s surprisingly low if you apply online). Fortunately, I’ll also share some ways to boost your chances of getting the interview… so make sure you read until the end.
Let’s get started…
The typical employer will interview 6-10 candidates for a job, and candidates will go through at least 2-3 rounds of interviews before receiving an offer. If a hiring manager isn’t able to find someone who fits their requirements in the first 6-10 candidates, they may interview more.
The phone interview is usually the first step in an employer’s process, and allows them to ask some initial questions to make sure you’re qualified at a basic level and will fit well with their organization.
Some candidates in a hiring process will only make it to the phone interview stage, and won’t advance to a second interview (depending on how they performed in the interview). This is discussed more in the next section.
After conducting phone interviews, the average hiring manager will invite 2-4 candidates for an onsite interview. However, if they only felt that one candidate from the previous round of interviews is qualified, then they will invite that one person while continuing to search for new candidates at the same time.
If they liked more than four candidates, they may invite a higher number of people to the second interview over the course of a few weeks, but they’ll usually do it in phases to keep the process organized and manageable.
Example scenario: A hiring manager conducts six phone interviews and likes five people. He’s open to speaking to all five, but he feels three of them are better-qualified than the others. He may invite those three people for an onsite interview and keep the other two candidates waiting.
If those three onsite interview goes well, he may choose to just move forward with one, two, or three of those candidates into the final round of the process. However, if he’s not satisfied after talking to those three people, he can reach back out to the two that were waiting.
Usually, 2-3 candidates are invited to the final round of interviews. However, there are exceptions. If an employer has multiple jobs available in the group, they may invite more candidates in the hope of hiring more people. Or at times, a hiring manager may only invite one person to the final interview round if they felt nobody else was qualified.
While some hiring managers always want to meet with multiple candidates before issuing a job offer, some will trust their gut and make a job offer as soon as they feel they’ve found a qualified person, even if that person comes to them in the first 1-2 weeks of the job being open.
With the average online job posting receiving 250 resumes, only a small percentage of applicants will get an interview. Since most employers interview fewer than 10 candidates for a position, only 2-3% of applicants will receive an interview on average.
There are exceptions, however. If a job is not posted online and you found it through networking or through talking to an employer directly, your odds are much greater.
If someone refers you to the hiring manager and recommends they speak with you, then your odds are also much greater.
This is why it’s so important to network in your job search, rather than relying only on online job search engines.
So while an employer is never going to interview 50 or 100 people for a job opening, you can greatly amplify your odds of being in the 2-3% that get an interview by networking.
You can also boost the number of interviews you receive by tailoring your resume to fit the position. (Which doesn’t take as long as you think if you follow my method).
Jobs have multiple rounds of interviews so that employers can have you meet more than one person on the team. They want to get multiple opinions before deciding whether to offer you the position, and they want to give you a chance to learn about their organization and make sure it’s the right fit for you.
Also, employers conduct an initial phone interview to make sure you have the basic qualifications and to ask some basic questions including:
They need to not only ensure that you’re capable of doing the work from a technical perspective, but also that you’re interested in the work, motivated, and a good fit for their company culture.
So this is why jobs have multiple interviews, and why the interview process can take a few weeks. Not only do many people need to meet you usually, but they also need to discuss things among themselves after you’ve left.
If you are well-prepared for your interviews, you can expect to get job offers after interviewing with 2-4 employers. The number of total interviews you would need to go on with those employers is typically 6-12 (based on an average of 3 interviews per employer).
Your specific results will vary depending on your interview skills. I’ll share some interview tips in the next section, because this is one of the biggest factors in how many interviews it takes to get a job.
However, even the best-prepared candidate won’t get a job offer from every employer they speak with.
Other factors that can sway the outcome of an interview process include your desired salary, the company culture, and what they happen to be looking for at the moment (a strong leader, a younger person that they can mold into a leader in the future, someone who can solve their immediate problems, etc).
Now that you know how many total interviews you will need to get a job, let’s look at some ways to REDUCE this number and get you hired faster.
As you learned in the last section, there’s always some luck and factors you cannot control in the hiring process. However, in the interview, it’s best to focus on the factors you CAN control… like your preparation, how you answer their questions, etc. So here are some tips to help you…
First, here are all of my best interview tips from working as a recruiter.
I recommend bookmarking that article and reading it when you have a chance.
Also, make sure you’re asking great, unique questions in the interview, along with preparing great answers. Employers always prefer to hire someone who seems interested and curious about their position.
And make sure you’ve researched the company before your interview, too. You’ll feel a lot more confident and give much better answers if you understand their job, their industry, how their company makes money, who their customers are, etc. You should know all of this.
So those are a couple of ways to reduce the number of interviews it will take you to get a job. If you do this, you should be able to get a job offer by interviewing with only two or three employers.
So now you know how many applicants get interviews, and how to turn more interviews into job offers. If you follow the advice above, you’ll get hired faster!
To conclude, I wanted to explain where the averages and data above come from.
The above info is based on my 5-years of recruiting across multiple industries (software technology, pharmaceuticals, and biotech), and across functional areas including research & development, software engineering, data science, sales & marketing, product management, writing, clinical research, quality assurance, and more.
The information is primarily from recruiting in the US and European markets. Employers ranged from Fortune 500 firms to small, Series A startups, so all types of companies are represented.
If you have a question or idea to add, leave a comment below.
Get our free PDF with the top 30 interview questions to practice. Join 10,000+ job seekers in our email newsletter and we'll send you the 30 must-know questions, plus our best insider tips for turning interviews into job offers.