Improving the Interview Process

How to improve the Interview Process

Do you find yourself wondering, ‘How can I find the right person for the job’? Then you’re in the right place. Finding the right candidate can be daunting and time-consuming, it often seems impossible. But we want to assure you, it isn’t! You can find your unicorn by improving your interview process.

Finding the right candidate means designing a better hiring process. By improving your interview process, you can assess candidates’ better, reduce your time to hire, increase staff retention, enhance your reputation, and the candidates experience.

We will break down the interview journey to help you understand what to do to find the right candidate.

How Many Rounds should be in the Interview Process?

Do more rounds equate to finding a more successful hire, or does too many scare the best candidates away? What is the magic number?

Google [1] found that four interviews were enough, as with statistical analysis they could predict a new start’s performance with 86% confidence. After the 4th interview, there was less than 1% increase in accuracy, meaning there was diminishing returns on interviewer feedback.

Another recent study suggested that 2-4 rounds is ideal, emphasising how flexibility should be implemented to consider the differentiation in job roles and seniority. [2]

To find out what candidates think, we polled our 65,000 LinkedIn followers, asking “What is the ideal number of interview rounds?”

58% of candidates believed that 2 interview rounds were ideal.

Combining both the employer and candidate perspective, we believe 3 is the magic number.

How Many Interview Rounds is Ideal?

Bar graph showing what is the ideal number of interview rounds

Benefits of 3 interview rounds

1. Improves recruiting accuracy

2. Save time

3. Reduce stress

4. Enhance reputation

5. Keep candidates interested

What To Do at Each Interview Stage

Now that we know how many interview stages are ideal, it’s time to talk about what the hiring stages are.

For a tech job interview, a phone screening, technical test, and behavioural / cultural interview should be included. Interviews should have structure. Structured interviews involve asking candidates the same questions in the same order to allow for easy and accurate comparisons.

Implement an interview rubric, so each candidate is graded on the same criteria. [3][4]

Job Interview Grading Rubric Examples

Complete the interview rubric immediately after each interview to give the most accurate representation.[4]

1.      Phone Screening

Phone screening is the first stage. A brief call to allow you to decide if the candidate skill sets match the job description. The job description should clearly outline your expectations and requirements so only qualified candidates apply.

Research by Glassdoor[5] highlighted how 44% of job seekers are frustrated by not having enough information about job responsibilities.

2.      Technical Testing

The second stage is a technical test to determine if a candidate has the technical abilities to be successful.

Technical test examples: take-home test, live coding challenge, pair programming, hacker rank test, technical chat, technical self-assessment.

Which technical test is best?

North Carolina State University and Microsoft [6] have conducted research into technical testing, comparing private interviews and supervised tests. They found that those who took the supervised test performed 50% worse than those completing a private test. Their study suggests that well-qualified candidates were eliminated because they were assessed on performance anxiety rather than coding abilities.

From our own experience we agree. When speaking with candidates, many prefer private tests and informal technical questions because they are less invasive and stressful. Our LinkedIn poll also supports this, whereby 47% of candidates favoured an informal technical chat and 29% a take home test. Also 89% of candidates felt supervised technical tests are affected by performance anxiety.

Furthermore, Live coding challenges are often feared because they create a highly stressful environment whereby the candidate is watched, questioned and judged whilst coding. Stress can have disruptive effects on the memory which can negatively affect a candidate’s performance. [7] So bear this in mind if this is your preferred method.

Every role is different and what works best for one may not be optimal for another. Junior or mid-level roles may benefit from a private test where raw technical ability is tested. Senior candidates who may take on managerial responsibilities may benefit from a higher stress test. However, some senior candidates dislike technical testing so informational technical questions may be preferred. They may be passive candidates and it may dissuade them from engaging.

The style of questions is important for finding the right candidate. Real-world scenarios that you expect the candidate to face in their new role will allow you to assess accurately. Pair programming with future colleagues will determine how the candidate can work with their future team. Having others in the group could also mitigate stress because it creates a more natural environment. [7]

Overall, we suggest private tests, informal technical questions and pair programming are the best technical interview options. The best method will depend on the role and the type of candidate you’re searching for

Which type of technical test is the best to assess candidates?

bar graph showing which technical test is best to assess candidates

Are supervised technical tests affected by performance anxiety?

bar graph showing if technical tests are affected by performance anxiety

3.      Behavioural Fit

The final interview stage should evaluate behavioural fit, assessing the candidate’s qualities, values and adaptability. While cultural fit is important, the focus should be, ‘can this person add value to my company?’ rather than, ‘do they fit our culture?’ It is important to determine if a candidate can enhance your business while aligning with your mission and values.

Adaptability is also an important trait to ensure a candidate is flexible and can manage change. At this stage behavioural, demonstration and hypothetical questions are great. [4]

If the interview is taking place in person, an office tour can be useful in gauging how they interact with your staff while providing an insight into your work environment. [8]

Interview Process Timeframe

The next important question is how long should the interview process take?

Where possible, nail down your hire-by date. An appropriate timeframe will ensure you don’t fall off track or lose any candidates that transition quickly through the job market. [2]

Research by Glassdoor [5] found that 44% of jobseekers’ biggest frustration was companies postponing or cancelling interviews, as well as 43% being frustrated with hiring managers not responding in a timely manner. Therefore, a clear time frame is critical so that no important candidates are lost.

To find out what candidates think, we polled our 65,000 LinkedIn followers to see how long the interview journey should be:

What is a reasonable timeframe to hear back from a job interview?

1-3 days was most popular response with 58%

bar graph showing what a reasonable time to hear back from job interview is

How long should the entire hiring process take? From sending the CV to being offered the job.

48% of candidates felt 2 weeks was reasonable

bar graph showing how long the entire hiring process should be

Taking everything into consideration, 2-weeks is the ideal timeframe to conduct interviews and inform candidates of your decision. However, it can be challenging to respond to each candidate quickly after each stage and may not always possible, but 2-weeks is a good target.

The Interview panel

How many people should be involved?

Google [9] found that having at least 3 interviewers can significantly improve the likelihood of finding the right candidate. In some cases, having 3 interviewers meant the chance error was only 6%. Having several people allows for more dynamic opinions and perspectives.

From the candidates’ perspective, our own research found that 58% of candidates feel that 2 interviewers is ideal.

How many people should there be in the interview panel?

bar graph showing how many interviewers there should be

Who should be involved?

The interview panel must be diverse. Having individuals from different teams and walks of life provides diversity, which can lead to better decisions or solutions and eliminates bias. [8] We recommend including the direct manager, supervisor and HR. [2]


To wrap up, you need to create a plan of action– detailing the number of rounds, what the interview stages are, the time frame and the people involved.

Remember we recommend 3 interview rounds with a 2-week time frame and 3 interviewers. The 3-2-3 strategy if you will. Having clear dimensions and structure will ensure your interview process is the most efficient to finding your tech unicorn!

Lastly when putting your plan into action, always be mindful of the candidate given interviews are a two-way deal. So, consider their needs, communicate your expectations, be responsive and be realistic.

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        Reference List

        1. Google (2017) How many interviews does it take to hire a Googler? Available at:
        2. Johanson, M (2021) ‘The rise of never-ending job interviews’, BBC, 2nd Available at:
        3. Google (2017) Structure your hiring process with these re:Work tools. Available at:
        4. Mailchimp (2020) Everything you need to know about…Setting up an effective interview Available at:
        5. Glassdoor (2022) 30+ HR and Recruiting Stats for 2020. Available at:
        6. NC State University (2020) Tech Sector Job Interviews Assess Anxiety, Not Software Skills. Available at:
        7. Behroozi, M., Parnin, C., Barik, T. (2019) ‘Hiring is Broken: What Do Developers Say About Technical Interviews?’, IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing.
        8. Bryant, A. (2022) ‘How to Hire the Right Person’, New York Times, Available at:
        9. Google (2016) Get that second (and third) opinion on a candidate before hiring. Available at: