How to Determine the Right Number of Candidates for the Final Interview


In the hiring process, determining the ideal number of candidates to make it to the final interview is a crucial decision. We reached out to experienced recruiters and hiring managers to provide insights on streamlining the interview process. Here are their perspectives on finding the right balance.

A Small Number Who Meet the Core Criteria

The number of candidates that should make it to the final interview is not set in stone. However, ensuring that only qualified individuals reach this stage is crucial. By pre-screening candidates and selecting those with the essential skills for the position, you can make the interview process more efficient for everyone involved. This approach saves the time and effort of managers conducting interviews and increases the chances of finding a suitable candidate.

“Having a recruitment process that focuses on candidates demonstrating the appropriate knowledge, skills, abilities, and core values is key. This will naturally result in a smaller number of candidates compared to the initial screening.” – Eric Mochnacz, Senior HR Consultant, 5 WS.

Be Swift to Hire Any Strong Candidate Instead of Tracking Numbers

In today’s competitive job market, where quality candidates are scarce, it’s essential to prioritize strong candidates. If you have interviewed a candidate who you believe would be an excellent fit for the position, it is advisable to move swiftly and make the hiring decision promptly. Waiting for additional candidates for comparison can potentially delay the hiring process and lead to losing out on top talent.

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“Talent acquisition is no longer just a numbers game. If there is a deserving candidate for the final interview, don’t hesitate to hire them without the need for excessive comparisons.” – Ronald Kubitz, Director HR & Recruiting, Forms+Surfaces.

Two Candidates is Ideal or…

When it comes to the final interview, it is often beneficial to narrow down the pool to two candidates. Whether you are making the decision alone or with a panel, having a smaller number of candidates simplifies the comparison process and facilitates meaningful discussions.

“The final interview is like the World Series of the hiring process. Having two candidates makes it easier to evaluate and compare, leading to a simpler decision-making process.” – Richard Clews, Founder, Pants and Socks.

… Two or Three Candidates or…

Over the years, hiring managers have often expressed the need for multiple candidates to choose from. However, it is important to strike a balance and avoid overwhelming both hiring managers and recruiters. Introducing two to three candidates provides sufficient options for decision-making without creating an excessive workload.

“From my experience, presenting two to three candidates to the hiring manager has been effective. This approach simplifies the decision-making process while maintaining a manageable workload for recruiters.” – Max Korpinen, Co-founder & CEO, Hireproof.

Consider the Top Three to Five Candidates

As the final interview stage approaches, focusing on the top three to five candidates is recommended. These candidates have already demonstrated their qualifications and potential fit for the role. It is crucial to involve the person who will work closely with the selected candidate in conducting the final interview. This stage becomes an opportunity to gauge personalities and ensure alignment with the company’s overall culture and values.

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“By carefully considering a limited number of candidates during the final interview, you can assess who best aligns with the company’s schema and the expectations of those they will be working with.” – Chandler Rogers, CEO, Relay.

Don’t Put a Limit on the Number

While prioritizing the most qualified candidates is essential, it is also important not to impose a strict numerical limit on the final interview stage. Interviewing as many qualified candidates as possible, without creating an endless cycle of additional interviews, can lead to better hiring decisions. This approach may involve adjusting requirements or considering attributes beyond experience, such as personality traits.

“It’s always better to have more qualified candidates than too few. Therefore, it is advisable to be open to interviewing a larger pool of candidates for the final round, while maintaining the necessary screening criteria.” – Colette Shelton, Founder, Chirpyest.

In conclusion, determining the ideal number of candidates for the final interview depends on various factors. By tailoring the selection process to identify the most qualified individuals and keeping the needs of the hiring team in mind, you can ensure a successful hiring outcome.

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