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How Many Candidates Should You Interview?

You've created the perfect job description and been inundated with CVs from hundreds of potential recruits. But how many of them should you interview? Too many and you'll be wasting your and their time, too few and you might miss out on the perfect candidate. Here, we'll explore the interview options to help find your ideal new starters.

Are the number of candidate interviews flexible?

Yes! Many factors should dictate how many people you're willing to spend time interviewing.

But the two key ones are:

1) How urgently do you need to fill the role, and;

2) What is the skill set of the position?

If you need a sales admin assistant now and have ten applications, all capable of doing the job, bring in just a couple who seem like they'll be a cultural fit and select the best. However, if you're looking for a senior marketing professional, you'll likely have lots of applicants and want to bring in five or six to ensure you make the right choice. Such a position needs a comprehensive set of skills and a personality to match the role, and you'll likely want to whittle down the best two or three and bring them in for a second interview.

Interviewing too many candidates is time-consuming and illogical. It's not just the hours spent physically quizzing each job seeker; you must contact each one and arrange the interview time, prepare for each interview, and then give each person follow-up feedback. Plus, with several people on the interview panel, each might end up with their own favourite from a long list. You want a clear winner that everyone can agree on.

What's the typical recruitment process?

Quite simply, the recruitment process refers to:

  • Defining the open position
  • Attracting applications (internal and/or external)
  • Sifting through and shortlisting
  • Interviews
  • Job offer

Many companies will leave their human resources team to do everything. Still, some will invite recruitment firms like Aaron Wallis to do the initial graft of sifting and provide the ideal candidate (or several) for interviews.

The success or otherwise of your final choice of new starter is defined by how well you undertake the preceding steps. The suitability of your applicants will depend on how well you defined the job description.

If you're after a software engineer, you'd want to stipulate the experience and qualifications you require; otherwise, you could be inundated with unsuitable applicants who don't know their computer code from their highway code. Your interview process will only be as good as the shortlist of candidates you've agreed to meet. And your final selection and job offer will only succeed in the long term if your interviews were thorough.

What are the six types of job interviews?

  1. Traditional one-on-one interview – Someone from HR or the hiring manager speaks alone with the candidate, generally at the company offices. This is how most people think of a job interview.
  2. Phone interview – This will most likely be a pre-screening interview to get an initial feel for candidates before inviting a shortlist in for face-to-face talks. You'll get an excellent first impression. For example, if you're filling a sales position and the candidate sounds quiet and nervy on the phone, then move on quickly!
  3. Panel interview – A panel grills the candidate, likely made up of people from different areas like HR, managers and employees in a similar position. They will ask questions depending on their role and experience and will hopefully come to a consensus about their preferred candidate.
  4. Behavioural interview – The interviewer will pose questions based on everyday situations that crop up in the open role. The aim is to see how a candidate's behaviour and decision-making will benefit the business when faced with similar situations in a previous role.
  5. Group interview – Ideal if you want to get a group of candidates in to see who wants to work at your company, maybe by including a short presentation and a tour of the premises. This could be followed by brief one-to-ones. This is an excellent way to observe the candidates together, spotting those with leadership potential, those happy to follow the crowd or maybe those who are simply unsocial!
  6. Lunch interview – An excellent way to get to know someone better with a second interview. Outside of the workplace, in a more relaxed atmosphere, you'll get a feel of whether your job seeker will be a great cultural fit within your business.

Should we use head-hunters or database recruitment?

Database recruiting will follow the tried-and-tested format of keeping a list of potential candidates, their skills, salary or role expectations and experience, and matching them to any given open role. You can add to your database by advertising your open position or from unsolicited applications. It's seen as a traditional and effective recruitment system.

However, for specific roles, occasionally, it's best to become proactive and go out and search for the right candidate yourself. That's headhunting. You might do this for the most senior roles in the business, or if a very strict, technical or hard-to-find skillset is required.

If you are after either database recruitment or a headhunting service, please get in touch with Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment either by phone (01908 061400) or by submitting a vacancy here.

Published: 27th June 2018

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Rob Scott, Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, Author Photo

About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
With over 24 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013 Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as Business Insider and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which host The Online Recruitment Awards every year.

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Understood the type of person we were looking for and good follow ups - not too frequent.

Managing Director, bigHead Bonding Fasteners Ltd

I just wanted to thank you for your help with our recruitment process which went very smoothly and has – we hope – found us just the person for the job!

Managing Director, Citrefine International Ltd

I found Aaron Wallis to be very professional and efficient, taking time to understand the role and the type of candidate we were looking for. The candidates they put forward met our criteria and were of a high standard. The service they provided was exemplary and I would have no hesitation in recommending them, and will certainly consider using them again in the future.

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Aaron Wallis has continuously provided us with suitable candidates that have been proactively sourced. Having used countless recruitment companies, Aaron Wallis are the only company that I can count on to deliver.

Managing Director, JARK Healthcare Recruitment

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Giles is highly professional and was a pleasure to work with. He achieves excellent results through his personable skills and tenacity. I have no hesitation in recommending Giles to anyone who considers employing his services.

Commercial Director, G4S Government & Outsourcing Solutions

I have used Aaron Wallis to fill a number of our Sales Development Manager roles and I have found them to provide a very professional service. I will use their services again in future recruitment campaigns.

HR Business Partner, Greene King

We were impressed not only by the quality of candidates you found for us but also the level of information, preparation and qualification you put into the process. You continually kept us informed of each person’s feelings about the process, which is very important but often overlooked. I am looking forward to working with your company again in the future.

Commercial Director, Incentive Facilities Management

Rob is a true recruitment professional that goes the extra mile that I have never experienced from any other recruitment agency before. If you need sales people call Rob or someone in his team, as they really are experts in sales recruitment.

Sales Director, Inside Business

Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

Marketing Director, City of London Police

I really liked the YouTube presentations which made the service seem both simple and accessible. The company came to see me, and my management team, at short notice to present their service and I liked the support and advice that I received about maximising the results from the applicant.

Managing Director, Leisuresec plc

Thanks for all your help during the recruitment process. I have been extremely impressed with Aaron Wallis especially when compared to other agencies we have dealt with. I really felt you grasped the type of person we required and found strong candidates.

UK Sales Manager, Nexcom

Rob’s knowledge of the recruitment industry and his thoughts and how to make it better for his clients have always been eye opening. I would recommend Rob to anybody who is looking for a professional, knowledgeable and flexible recruitment specialist.

CEO, Friday Ad Online Services

In an industry where people over promise and under deliver, Rob and his teams have consistently provided a high-quality service. It is great to deal with someone that has an excellent understanding of UK industry, and a passion for sales.

Sales Manager, TR Fasteners

We appointed Aaron Wallis in February and the successful candidate, out of the six which Aaron Wallis introduced, was able to join Alphametrics before the end of April. The whole process took less than three months. I would recommend Aaron Wallis' services to others without hesitation.

Chief Financial Officer, Alphametrics

I have always found Rob to be very knowledgeable about our industry sector, and it is refreshing to see after all of these years that Rob continues to quickly and accurately understand my requirements.

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Fantastic service, helped me find my ideal job quickly and smoothly. Would highly recommend them.

C. Caine, Candidate

I can honestly say that the time and expertise you gave me was way beyond any other recruitment consultant I dealt with. You are a rarity in your industry.

S. Akers, Candidate

The service provided by Aaron Wallis has been just great. I was constantly informed about what was going on with the process interview and the agent has always been supportive and kind to me.

L. Colagrossi, Candidate

Perfect from start to finish. Simon deserves a shout out. Best recruiter there is. If you need a job, this guy will get you one. He's like the super man of recruiters. Top man, can't recommend him enough.

M. Crisp, Candidate

Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.

R. Buckley, Candidate

I've had a really good experience working with Giles Phillips at Aaron Wallis. From initial contact to the finer details of securing the job, he has been very professional and a pleasure to work with.

M. Shutt, Candidate

Excellent experience from first contact to ultimately securing a suitable placement. Giles looked after me in a very professional and friendly manner. He used his expertise and experience to ensure I was put forward for the most suitable positions for my skill set and found me a new role very quickly. I can't recommend Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment highly enough.

M. Green, Candidate

The Recruitment agent I used, Simon, was extremely helpful and really went the extra mile to ensure all of my questions were answered, and that I felt as comfortable and prepared as possible. Very professional company and would definitely recommend to others. Thank you Aaron Wallis!

A. Callaby, Candidate

Really excellent experience dealing with Aaron Wallis. Liam Oakes who helped me get a great job was brilliant. Kept me up to date during the process and offered great help and advice, and a thoroughly nice guy. Highly recommended!

J. Hathaway, Candidate

A great recruitment company to work with. Excellent experience with Aaron Wallis through the entire recruitment process. The team was really professional and extremely helpful. Darren was a pleasure to work with. He was friendly, supportive and gave me great advice. Thank you very much!

A. Bauchet, Candidate

Excellent service, very professional and friendly, would and have, recommended Aaron Wallis.

E. Heley, Candidate

Aaron Wallis helped me secure a position I really wanted. Giles sought to keep me updated with all the details preceding interviews and after with feedback. I would highly recommend Giles and Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment.

L. Taylor, Candidate

Aaron Wallis is an outstanding recruitment agency specialising in high calibre sales positions. I was working directly with Darren Dewrance who went above and beyond my expectations in sourcing me my perfect role. I was kept in regular communication with Darren and he worked extremely hard to secure my dream job. Highly recommended and Thanks Darren for all your expertise and hard work.

R. Sealy, Candidate

Very good advice and support was given during the course of the interviewing process. Potential job seekers would be well advised to use this company whilst looking for their new career.

R. Speakman, Candidate

Less than two weeks after joining Aaron Wallis I was offered my new job. I got a £10,000 rise in my basic salary, car allowance, a laptop and many other perks, which will help to further my career. I definitely would not have found my dream job without the help of Aaron Wallis.

C. Hoy, Candidate

Good swift process with Aaron Wallis, informative regarding the role and the process was moved at a good pace with healthy interaction. Would recommend them to anyone pursuing a change.

S. Bartlett, Candidate

I have to say coming across and having dealings with Aaron Wallis proved to be very successful. Being highly experienced did not seem to count for much during my job search bit a conversation with Robert Scott gave me a real confidence boost and enabled to get a position at the age of 63. Great service!!!

D. Burgess, Candidate

Fantastic customer service, communication was brilliant, happy polite people to talk to, made everything a lot easier and smoother. Thank you for all your help getting me back in the work force, Keep up the good work :-)

K. Everitt, Candidate

Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.

M. White, Candidate 

Aaron Wallis have provided me with an excellent service, Giles went out of his way to help me preparing for my interview and supported me through all the processes. If you need an agency to give you a fully professional and consultative approach to finding you a new career move, the Aaron Wallis can certainly provide this for you.

D. Richards, Candidate