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Career Corner: Hiring by Consensus

Many companies have job seekers interview with various panels. – Courtesy photo

By Angela Copeland

The job market is the best it has been in 50 years. You’ve heard that on the news. And, companies are struggling to find good candidates. There aren’t as many people available for work as there used to be. In other words, because the market is doing well, companies are hiring more. Because companies are hiring more, job seekers have more options.

The ironic thing is, when a company finds a great candidate that they want to hire, they’re still interviewing that candidate like it’s 2001. The company is putting the candidate through the paces, assuming they’re in control. One of the ways they do this is by hiring by consensus.

In the “good old days” of job seeking, you might have three interviews. The first would be a phone screen with human resources. Then, you would have a phone interview with the hiring manager. Last, you would come in person and meet the hiring manager and a few others in a panel interview.

For many jobs, the days of a straight forward interview process are gone. Many hiring managers haven’t hired new employees in so long that they’re nervous to make the wrong choice. They don’t want it to be their fault if the candidate doesn’t work out.

So, what does the hiring manager do? Unfortunately, they force the candidate to meet everyone they can create a calendar invitation for. Recently, I have seen many, many job openings where the job seeker is interviewed 10 to 15 times for one job. They are interviewed by the boss, HR, the boss’ boss, the boss’ peers, the job seeker’s peers, the job seeker’s future employees, and sometimes even the person who left the job.

Fifteen job interviews don’t result in someone unearthing some important piece of information about a candidate. It is a way for the hiring manager to cover themselves in case the person doesn’t work out.

If you are a job seeker and you find yourself being asked to interview repeatedly for one job, you have a decision to make. You can refuse to do so many interviews. If you do this, you can rest assured that you will not receive a job offer. It doesn’t matter that the company is being both unreasonable and disrespectful of your time. It’s their process. If you want to play ball, it has to be by their rules. So, if you do want the job, you’ll have to go through the process.

But, I would take note of this disturbing trend. If you find yourself interviewing with a boss who is putting you through this experience, it is very likely a reflection on them. They may be a weak leader who is unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad person and you may even want to take the job. But, if you find yourself being hired by consensus, pay attention.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at

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