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October 9, 2008 12:20 PM   Subscribe

How many times do people typically make it to the "finalist" round before they land a job?

Today I was notified that I was not hired for a position, after going through an extensive "finalist" process. This is the fourth time this has happened in two months, and its starting to get frustrating, not only because I'm not getting hired, but because the process of not getting hired is making me take a ton of time away from my current job.

Is it typical to be a finalist for several positions before you land a job?

My field is training and development. I've asked for feedback from all four no's and have gotten a different answer each time, so I don't think its something specific I'm doing or not doing. Also, two of the four never checked my references, and those two each talked to different people, so I don't think its a hidden reference problem.

Is it just the current market? Or should I start to look deeper to find something I need to change?
posted by anastasiav to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's the same in many industries -- the common courtesies one used to provide (and perhaps even expect) are mostly out the window. It's mostly an employer's market, so hiring managers may be more overwhelmed than usual.

From experience, if you don't land the job within a couple of interviews, your're wasting your time. The reasons why may vary -- nobody will ever be perfect enough, they're trying to look like they're hiring, etc.

Do as much background-checking on your potential hiring managers as possible -- which is where knowing someone on the inside always helps. Surprisingly (not) there are plenty of incompetent people proving the "Peter Principle" all the time.

Just keep up the interviews -- at the very least, you're getting great practice for the position you really want and will fit into, perfectly. It just takes time.
posted by catkins at 12:55 PM on October 9, 2008

In my experience being tangentially involved in interviews from the hiring side, typically 3-4 "finalists" for a position are brought in for full-day interviews.

Assuming this is typical, that means that 2/3 to 3/4 of "finalist" candidates are rejected, and, on average, a person will have to get to the finalist round 3-4 times to get a job. (Note: on average. Some will take less than that, and some more.)

I don't think it's the current market, because bringing in a finalist involves a good bit of effort on the part of the people at the company involved. If they suddenly start getting twice as many applications for each position, they're not going to start bringing in 6-8 finalists for each position. My point is, a tough job market may make it harder to get to the final round in the first place, but I don't think it would make it any harder to get from the final round to an offer.

I wouldn't worry too much about four rejections from the finalist stage--that seems within the realm of normal statistical variability to me. Ten, I'd be concerned.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:07 PM on October 9, 2008

In my org (non-profit admin) we would generally only have perhaps 2, maybe 3 people in the final round, all of whom we feel are qualified for the position. Honestly, at that point, it's coming down to flat-out personality compatibility. It works for us like this:

Disclaimer: I'm not talking HR's assessment, I'm talking hiring manager's assessment.

First interview: In the running or not, period. Largely based on qualifications.

Second interview: Interested. Further exploration of how well you can elucidate further upon the experience on your resume and how well you're going to fit in with the team. At this point, if we're sure, you're hired.

Third interview: Very, very interested, but have some lingering doubts and want one more chance for interaction. For director-level positions, this is where we'd perhaps bring in some more staff to meet you. Make or break. There's nothing you can do here except be yourself.

/anecdotal experience FYI
posted by desuetude at 9:21 PM on October 9, 2008

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