Sometimes certain interviews feel like they're not actually seriously considering me for the role.

For example, I had an interview the other day over Zoom. They said they were impressed by all the skills I had, but at the end of the interview they said they were looking for someone with more of a biology background (and I have a non-biology STEM Bachelor's). They did not list that a biology degree be required or even preferred in the job posting. On top of that, they have my resume, and they would know from that, too. Why bother wasting my time and their time if they weren't even seriously considering any other background?

Another time, a different company flew me out there, and did not talk about a single hard skill or anything about my technical expertise on what their products were. It was more surface-level stuff.

It feels like they are just doing it to have a minimum number of people to interview. Is there a minimum typically? If so, what is that minimum?

  • 20
    Yeah, I know how you feel. What you described have actually happened a lot. It is so weird because those companies waste lots of time of both the interviewers and interviewees in this case. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 4:31
  • 56
    Pro tip: Don't believe everything you hear. The biology background may simply be a convenient excuse, or the first thing that popped into their head when they had to "fob you off". The reality is that you will never really know the reason for sure. The key thing is to just accept it and move on.
    – musefan
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 13:36
  • 15
    To answer the question of "Do hiring managers need to interview a minimum number of candidates?", some do, some don't. There are no standard ways of hiring across companies, or even between managers. Some companies may go with the first viable candidate they interview. Some may not feel comfortable until they've interviewed a set number of candidates. Some companies have one person interview and hire. Some may have days of panels. Every company is different. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 14:14
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    Please also keep in mind that some companies are just genuinely bad at interviewing/hiring.
    – BSMP
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 18:07
  • 5
    @syn1kk The new title is just asking what the answer is; the old title was trying to provide an answer to the question. Answers are usually best left out of the question. Yes/no questions can also be problematic because yes/no answers are low quality. It's not "PC/flowery", it's just asking the question in a neutral manner without any assumption about what the answer might be. The top-voted answers all seem to answer what the new title is asking (even though the title at the time they wrote the answers was the old one). I'd argue the place for "eye openers" is the answer section. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 22:21

12 Answers 12


There are a whole pile of reasons:

  1. To meet HR policy. Some companies just require that at least X number of people be interviewed for any position. I worked for a bank that required several people be interviewed even if a candidate had already been chosen or even had been specifically headhunted.

  2. To make a preferred candidate look good. A friend of mine worked for a company where interviewees were asked a standard set of questions and scored based on their answers. The highest score got hired. The manager doing the hiring asked the HR analyst to provide a certain candidate and four other candidates who wouldn't be awful, but had no chance of scoring as high as the named candidate. It was how that manager got around an anti-nepotism policy.

  3. Practice for the interviewers. Many interviewers want to simulate before they do something for real. Candidates that are not that relevant are perfect for that.

  4. Plenty of interviews are not thought out. One of my assumptions of the workforce was that companies put thought into things and unlike students, didn't just copy blindly off the Internet. Bad, bad, assumption. I once had an interview where the interviewer had printed off an article on "interview questions" and was just blindly asking them. At a prior job, one fellow software engineer was told to go find interview questions to find other software engineers.

  5. Lack of interview preparation. Some people depend on HR to sort the resumes and don't really review them before the candidate arrives in the interview. I once interviewed for a software job that was all about developing low-level Linux drivers, which is something I know nothing about. The interviewer was clearly frustrated that I was brought in, as "using three different Linux OSes for servers is not Linux development experience." The guy didn't read my resume until I was there sitting in the room!

  6. Lack of HR preparation. HR sends along candidates that are not very good, but the interviewer gives them a chance anyway. Credit -- Alexander

  7. Your profile wasn't exactly what they were looking for, but they still wanted to talk to you to see if you had qualities that could compensate for what was missing. Credit -- Echox

  8. They liked your profile at first, but the interview didn't go well and they invented an excuse to tell you out politely. Credit -- Echox

  9. They have an H-1B candidate already lined up and ready to go, and they don't actually want to give the job to anyone else, but are legally required to pretend to look for people. Legally, they're supposed to prefer to hire an American worker if possible, but in practice, the law is very difficult to enforce because the company can always come up with some excuse for why candidate X wasn't good enough. And of course, sometimes the H-1B candidate really is irreplaceable. Credit -- Kevin

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 15:54
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    It is common for the HR person who writes job postings to really have no clue. So many times I have seen posting that have developer in title actually be designer jobs in the description and vice versa. Like do senior people in established tech companies not realise the difference between a designer and a developer?
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 18:50
  • 3
    +5 for #9. In the old days, when there was an HR bulletin board off of some corridor near some bathroom they would be all kinds of job postings on it. You'd wonder who they expected to see the posting off in that dim dirty corridor. And the answer is: they thought nobody would see it. Which is the way they wanted it. They had to "advertise" the job for internal transfers, but already had the candidate picked out and didn't want some actual job seeker to stick their nose in and mess it up. Today: the candidate they want to fill the role is a cheap H1-B indentured servant.
    – davidbak
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 19:42
  • Item #1 is pretty common esp when they want to promote from within.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 20:51
  • 2
    And another possible reason: Some companies have policies that each manager must fire a certain percentage of workers annually regardless of merit. Managers who want to avoid losing valuable team members sometimes hire somebody deliberately with the intent to fire that person soon to meet that quota. In that case, they would reject "good" candidates because it may become difficult to find a reason to fire that person. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 0:16

I conduct the occasional technical interview at my company for peer roles.

What I've noticed is that people seem to think of the interviewer side as almost omniscient, that everything we do is highly calculated and purposeful.

The truth is the hiring process is difficult on all sides. Maybe the person who wrote the job description was different than the person who knew a biology background was important. Maybe they thought the biology background was obvious, so it doesn't need stating. Maybe they would have been willing to overlook that weakness for a candidate with compensating strengths. Maybe they are having trouble attracting applicants, so they were willing to give you a shot. Maybe they are still figuring out what they want in a candidate. Maybe they didn't realize how useful someone with a biology background would be until the interview. Maybe their resume screening process needs some refinement.

I'm not saying there aren't conniving interviewers out there, just that chances are, interviewers are regular people doing their best with a task that's not a usual part of their job description. Try not to over-analyze what they do.

  • 19
    From what I've heard, most job descriptions come from HR asking what the hiring manager wants, then deciding how to interpret it without any domain knowledge. "Someone with maybe 5-7 years experience and some C# .Net programming would be nice" becomes "Required: +7 years experience in C Sharp Dot Net programming". I've even had to correct "technical recruiters" so they understand # is not hashtag or pound. And I see lots of "Dot Net" and "DotNet" around. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 17:53
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    @computercarguy I remember back in 2008 seeing job board ads for C# coders asking for 10+ years experience. Good luck with that, I thought. :)
    – Graham
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 0:19
  • 2
    @Graham, yep, I saw one job (many years ago) require 7 years of Java experience when the language had been around for only 5 years. Because of that, I sometimes still check to see how long a framework, language, etc. has been around to see if the job poster has any clue what they are asking for. And I recently almost hung up on a recruiter ask me how many years I had working with ECMA5 after already telling them I'd worked with JavaScript for 15 years. I ended up having to reply to their email, again asking about it, to show them that they were basically the same thing/how they were related. Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 18:31

Are there cases where interviewers call someone in just to go through the motions? Sure, that happens. Someone wants to hire the big boss's nephew but needs to make it look like there was an open competition for the job. Someone got a pile of 50 resumes from HR for an opening, went through and rejected 40 people that were patently unqualified, and didn't bother to really read the remaining 10 resumes that closely to notice that there were other problems.

More often, though, job descriptions are rather squishy and employers adapt when they see the sort of candidates they can actually attract.

  • A company putting together a job description for developers might not list business domain knowledge in the job description because they know that they can train a new developer in the business and don't want to drive those developers away. If the company gets a dozen resumes from solid developers that also have that domain knowledge, however, the hiring manager may decide that it's a lot easier to get someone with domain knowledge that will be productive immediately rather than training someone in the domain.
  • A company putting together a job description for another position might list too many requirements and quickly find from the resumes they receive and the interviews they conduct that they need to reassess what they're really looking for. If they're advertising for someone that is solid in X, Y, and Z and finding that no one actually has all three skills, maybe they reassess and decide they'd rather have an expert in X that has some exposure to Y and they'll send an existing employee off to get some training in Z.
  • A company may also find that the situation on the ground has changed between the time the job description was put out and the time they're interviewing candidates. Maybe they landed a big client or started a new project that has tweaked the team's workload. Or maybe they're advertising two positions for mid-level widget polishers and lucked out to have a retired senior widget polisher accept one of the positions. Now they're going to have plenty of widget polishing skills on the team so they want to use the other open position to bring someone on that can do some widget measuring as well.
  • In larger organizations, job descriptions are standardized but actual jobs may not be. If the company has a standardized job description for a Widget Polisher II but the hiring manager really wants a Widget Polisher II with experience in silver widgets, the hiring manager has a couple of options. They can talk with their manager and HR and several other managers in many, many meetings to get approval for a new job description. Or they can use the already standardized job description and just manually look for people that have silver widget experience. 9 times out of 10, they'll go for the route that doesn't involve a bunch of internal meetings even if it means that the job description and the job aren't in perfect alignment.

If this is something that happens to you regularly, I'd consider the possibility that your resume might be unintentionally misleading. Resumes are supposed to be marketing documents so, of course, people should put their experience in the best light possible. But sometimes this sort of thing makes it easy for an interviewer to misinterpret the resume and think the candidate has some skill or experience they don't. Many times, I've tried to dig in to some line on a candidate's resume only to find out that it is not quite what I was hoping for (i.e. someone was involved with a project doing X but was really only responsible for doing Y). The mention of X on the resume helped them get the interview but not the job.

It is also possible that interviewers are deciding you're not right for the position for some other reason but it's easier to give you an explanation that you can't challenge. If you tell someone that you've got to reject them because they just don't have enough experience with X, they're likely to try to explain why that's not the case. If you tell them that you've got to reject them because of something purely objective like what degree they have, that's much less likely to generate an unpleasant confrontation. It's also much, much less likely to produce HR blowback or lawsuits if the real answer is something like "the candidate just gave us weird vibes".


My gut on this one would be: Different people in the company expect a different profile. They couldn't push through their preferences beforehand, now they use the power they have in the interview to get what they want. Bonus points if 2 people in the interview want 2 very different things...

I had an interview once, the IT manager was sick on that day, so the project manager did the interview. They wanted a developer with years of experience in:

  • Frontend development
  • Backend development
  • Databases
  • Testing
  • DevOps
  • Agile

I had even some slight prior experience in their domain. (In interview speak: 3 years of business experience ;)) That's quite a list, so they should be happy to find somebody who can tick all the boxes, right?

The nontechnical project manager then asked if I studied electrical engineering. Which I indeed did not (as is obvious from my CV). My job would have been to display data, so yeah it's super important I studied how to build whatever they did...

The project manager obviously had a different person in mind than the IT manager. His other questions also made that clear. Sometimes it just comes down to bad luck.

  • 3
    Yeah, I had a similar interview. I met all their requirements and when the hiring mgr asked if I could learn new skills, I talked about the 200+ other skills I'd learned and said I could learn what's needed. Then an HR(?) person stepped in and said I didn't really answer the question, so I then talked about the skills I was currently learning. They even asked what I did outside of IT, so I listed off maybe 2 dozen of my hobbies (not a complete list) to show that I definitely can learn new skills. I didn't get that job and I'll never know if it was because I proved the HR person wrong, or what. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 17:48
  • 2
    When I see the words full stack developer what I really understand that to mean. One person to do two people's jobs.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 21:28
  • +1 Neil Mayer Frontend, backend, database, devops -- maybe more like 4 jobs. I wonder if computercarguy just said "yes" to the new skills question and if they followed up with a question on skills self-learned to date he would provide details . . . But that interview sounds like he's been dealt from a stacked deck.
    – Trunk
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 12:22

There's no universal or legal requirement for a minimum number of interviews. I've known plenty of people that interviewed exactly one person for a position before hiring them. In some cases they were the only applicant, and a minimum interview requirement would have prevented them from filling the position at all.

Some organizations have their own requirements, typically described as an effort to avoid favoritism/nepotism (whether they accomplish that goal is questionable). It's not uncommon to have an interviewer that's clearly going through the motions to fulfill a requirement and already has another candidate in mind. While this is certainly frustrating, it's also helpful to the interviewee. It highlights that this is a company that values process over efficient, meaningful results, which can be an indicator for what your life might be like if you worked there.

In larger companies, the hiring process can look something like this. A team puts together a list of skills/requirements that a new team member would need. Their manager uses this information to write up a job description. This gets passed to HR, who cleans it up, formats it to the corporate template and adds a bunch of fluff that nobody reads, and then posts it publicly. Normally, that process is fine. When it comes to STEM fields, though, it's common that neither the manager nor the HR employee have a technical background. They don't completely understand the technical requirements given to them, and it's incredibly common for them to leave off something they don't realize is important, or reword something in a way that completely changes the meaning. For example, I frequently see postings for programming positions that clearly do not understand that C, C++, and C# are completely different languages and not a single skill set. Most non-technical people can't tell the difference between "big data" tools and Pokemon. I've had plenty of candidates passed to my team that passed HR's screening, but didn't fit the requirements at all because HR didn't have the slightest idea what anything in the job posting actually meant. The hiring manager is supposed to screen the applicants as well, but rarely have time and instead trust HR's judgement. Sometimes all the manager actually gets is a profile in a candidate tracking program that was created by a machine attempting - often incorrectly - to extract data from the resume or LinkedIn page. That leads to the situation that you described, where you get to the interview stage and your interviewer isn't even familiar with your resume. It's a problem caused by too many middlemen, an over-reliance on technology, and by managers not giving hiring-related tasks the same level of priority as their "day job".

Recruiters can make this problem even worse. Recruiters try to protect the identity of their clients (so you can't bypass them and avoid their commission). They'll take the job posting, remove any information that could be used to identify the company, re-work it to fit their agency's templates, and extract what they think are keywords. Candidate resumes also get sanitized, removing anything personally identifiable and getting reworked so that the company can compare candidates more easily. Like HR people, recruiters are generalists and also rarely have a technical background. Every time they touch the job description or resume, they inadvertently dilute the content and important information can get mangled or lost. The candidate sees a mere caricature of the original job posting, and the hiring manager only gets the CliffsNotes version of your resume (another reason to always bring a printed copy to the interview).

As annoying as situations like this are, they're relatively minor when compared to many of the other problems in the modern hiring process. The inverse to your situation is even more problematic: how many candidates that were perfect fits for the position got erroneously filtered out and never reached the hiring manager's desk?

  • This is a good answer, and I made a similar comment about how the job description gets mangled by HR on another answer. However, I slightly disagree with saying there's an over-reliance on technology to scan resumes for keywords. Yes, it does happen, but if they are using correct terminology in the scanners as well as using better scoring systems than just a threshold of how many keywords popped up, the reliance on technology would be more justified. Basically, they need to QA their keyword list, as well as making sure the other metrics are relevant, before relying on it. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 18:09
  • 3
    @computercarguy I was writing that more on the lines of my own experiences, where a recruiter showed me a profile in one candidate tracking system that claimed I had zero work experience and went to a university named "and". The ability to automatically extract meaning from the unstructured text of a free-form resume is not something machines do well, and it's very rare that anyone ever doublechecks that what the computer shows them is actually correct. Sometimes, seeing the real resume is a shocker compared to the candidate's electronic profile.
    – bta
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 18:52
  • I totally get that and I'm not discounting your experience. I've done enough string/document manipulation to know how hard it is to get useful data from even similar documents. I also know that some software is better than others at pulling out resume data. I even know that some resume formats are better/easier to pull out that information. I've had online job sites nearly perfectly extract work history, etc. out of my resume as well as other sites completely mangle the same resume. And it is too bad people don't double check the results of their software, especially software companies. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 19:48
  • 3
    my CV: "workshop", their software "thinks": "worked for HR", use "course" instead; my CV: "course of studies: local equivalent of master's degree", their software: does not "see" this at all, must be listed under keyword "prizes" - HR: "Please everybody change your CV to fit our software!" No comment. Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 13:21
  • 2
    +1 for "this is a company that values process over efficient, meaningful results, which can be an indicator for what your life might be like if you worked there"
    – David
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 21:56

I have done it for everything from trying to seem busy when there is no real job to filling quota numbers for interviews (even if there was already a hired candidate).

Interviewing is not really a process. It is as random as dating.

  • 1
    That! When the job market in my field was very soft, I noticed it was easy to get interviews. But they were mainly for jobs that didn't exactly exist; it became clear that HR people were scheduling interviews to avoid looking entirely useless themselves.
    – catfood
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 16:58

Some interviews might be to meet interview quotas, but I expect more often the reason for such interviews will be one of these:

  • A non-technical person reviewed your profile. HR is usually the first people from the company to look at your profile. They may be able to start the interview process with you while only being able to do a rough check of whether you'd be a good match. It would be entirely possible for them to greatly misjudge how qualified you are for a specific role.

  • They didn't review your profile in depth. The common saying goes that those reviewing your resume may only spend a few seconds on each resume before making an initial decision. One would hope they spend a bit longer reviewing the positive ones after that before they inviting someone to an interview, but they may not necessarily spend much more time on those.

    In some cases they may also rely on candidate tests (or resume keyword matching) to help with the initial filtering of candidates. If your profile passes a brief review and you pass the test, they may consider that good enough (even if the test wasn't all that specific to the job).

    Maybe the vast majority of people who get through the initial review have the required background and it doesn't really make sense for the company to do a detailed technical review of each resume, instead of just inviting those people to interviews. This applies to both this point and the previous one.

  • They might be checking whether there are things not mentioned in your resume. Resumes don't tell the whole story. It's possible that some parts of your previous jobs involved the things they're looking for, even when it's not on your resume. You may also have educated yourself on the topic to a degree acceptable to them, in ways that people often don't include on resumes (e.g. reading books). Also, maybe the job specification made it clear (in their opinion) that some skillset is required and they sometimes give those applying the benefit of the doubt by assuming they have that skillset even though the resume doesn't show it (at least for the purposes of deciding whether to interview you).

  • Job requirements and the interview process change. It might be that they invited you for an interview but the job requirements changed before you actually had the interview after they had a few other interviews and internal discussions (maybe they're already in the process with a few candidates with the background they ideally want). The interview process is also ever-changing. They may not quite have figured out the best way to evaluate candidates or what exactly they're looking for. New people join the company, and they may not yet know exactly how to evaluate profiles.

  • Not this role, but maybe another one. They may not seriously consider you for the specific role you applied to, but still want to interview you to assess you for other roles they may have available now or in future.

  • Your profile might be good enough. The reasons they give for rejecting you isn't always the reasons they actually reject you. This could be for legal reasons or to avoid conflict. If they say you don't have the required background, this should at least be part of the reason for rejection. But that doesn't necessarily mean they didn't seriously consider you despite knowing you don't have the background. There could be other ways to make up for that, like showing an enthusiasm for the role and company, being a good cultural fit and demonstrating technical skills that may transfer to the skills required in the role.

    Also, "surface level" / cultural fit / "get to know you" interviews are perfectly common and it's often perfectly possible to move on to the next round from those. The point of such interviews are explicitly non-technical in favour of seeing whether you'd socially fit in the company and evaluating your soft skills.


Do hiring managers need to interview a minimum number of candidates?

It's good practice to do so, yes.

Federal/State jobs might even have a mandated minimum.

In a perfect world they are interviewing qualified candidates based on the resume.

They did not list that a bio degree be required or even preferred in the job posting.

Politely inquire about this during the interview; "I apologize but I wasn't aware of this requirement, is it in the job posting?"

None of us can guess the discrepancy between the job posting and your actual degree.

how to play the interview game?

The sad truth is that you never know whether you're supposed to be playing chess, checkers, poker, tennis, or dominos.

Always put your best foot forward and don't badmouth others during the interview, period.

Here is a range of situations which could be happening:

  • They already have a stellar candidate which they want to hire but have to finish their red-tape process. A stellar candidate doesn't go jobless for long...
  • They didn't fully analyze your resume before inviting you to an interview
  • They expect you to exceptionally sell yourself; the more you want the job the more they can expect to lowball you
  • A recruiter convinced them to interview you and they trusted the recruiter
    • I've been on a hiring panel for a position which required a bachelor's degree and the recruiter happily sent us people with an associate's or no degree
  • They scheduled 5 interviews, HR requirement is only 3, they already know who they want to hire by the time they get to you, but they don't want to be rude and cancel; I know, I know, it's more rude to waste your time
  • 3
    Also the stellar candidate might not accept the offer, in which case you want to have a merely okay candidate as a backup. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 21:08
  • 1
    @EikePierstorff, as a quip, I'd like to think of myself as more than a "merely okay candidate" for those 2 jobs I got when the first pick bailed or wasn't actually eligible, and I got a call back as a 2nd choice. ;-) Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 21:19
  • 6
    @computercarguy let's settle for "marginally less stellar" :-) Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 7:41
  • 2
    @JoeStrazzere "Call out" was not the best action descriptor. I changed it to "inquire" =)
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Aug 19, 2021 at 12:23
  • 2
    Inquiring about the hidden requirement(s) provides a door to pursue an understanding how the lack of skills/knowledge would affect embracing the role if you were given the chance and if you were to accept it. You can then discuss in real terms how real this deficiency is. Also you can, if you choose to and find it appropriate, present yourself in a way to convince the interviewers that it is less of an issue. Like if you have interest, how hard would it be to read a book/article about the subject and become up-to-date with the requirements in sufficient degree.
    – FooF
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 4:33

There are already good answers, but they miss one point. When reading your CV the company may think that you are possibly (or even probably) unqualified, but want to give you a chance to see if you're better than the CV suggests. Depending on the number and quality of candidates seen, the company may decide that it's worth taking a chance of wasting interviewers time on a few extra candidates in the hope that one turns out to be an unexpectedly good choice. Often CVs are a bit vague about relevant details - they may say that a candidate has used a relevant tool but there can be a huge difference between casual use of something in an environment where there are other experts for support and detailed knowledge of the technology.

  • Just in the past 4 months, I've applied to over 600 jobs and had maybe 20 interviews, even with my 9 years experience in the industry using the tools & tech employers want. They really don't care about unqualified people, unless they simply aren't getting any traction on their job listing, and that can often be due to very low wages or it simply being a very badly written job description. Even with that said, an unqualified person getting an interview as a "lets see" scenario is such a low probability that it's extremely unlikely to happen, especially as often as the OP is talking about. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 19:59

There are all sorts of possible explanations, but it sounds to me as if you present yourself better on paper than you do in interview. You may well have looked like a very promising candidate on paper.

If you're actually interviewing, there's always a difficulty if you identify someone as a perfect candidate when you still have a queue of people sitting in the waiting room. You try to keep an open mind, but inevitably, when each one comes into the room you realise quite quickly that you prefer the person who's currently top of your list, and it's hard not to appear to the remaining candidates as if you're just going through the motions.

The other problem here of course is "chemistry". There's a real tension between the very reasonable desire to appoint someone who will fit well into the organisation, and the unforgivable instinct to appoint someone who looks just like the interviewer.


There's no absolute requirement. If you can find only one candidate and can't find a second one, and you need someone, your reasonable choices are: Reject them because they seem not good enough. Hire them because they seem good enough. What's not reasonable is to hold out for months to find a second candidate.

You'd make your interview more in-depth to avoid hiring someone who can't do the job, but that's something you would do anyway.

On the other hand, if you get 100 candidates, there's no rule that you need to interview all of them, if interviewing all of them costs more than you get by hiring the best of 100 instead of the best of 20.

  • Yes, how badly they need the position, how long the position has been vacant, how profitable the work is, how many people actually can do the job, how much money are they actually willing to pay. These power games are often quite complicated
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 21:23

I never encountered a company that has a policy of "you must interview X people before deciding", but according to the comment, seems like there are such.

Regardless of such a policy, other reasons may be:

  1. Sometimes the interviewer is doing his first steps as such. So he might interview people that he knows are not relevant, just to get some practice in interviewing.
  2. Sometimes the interviewer will like to "get a feeling" of the candidates who apply to the job. Where can he draw the line of qualified / non-qualified
  3. Sometimes, well, the interviewer has nothing else to do and he prefers to interview someone over doing nothing.
  • 4
    Depends on your definition of "reasonable company" . Some corporation with large HR staff actually have such policy. Remember that HR needs to justify its existence ;)
    – rs.29
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 7:16
  • 3
    large companies and government agencies often have such policies, idiotic as they may sound.
    – jwenting
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 7:16
  • 3
    Both the government agency I worked for and the largest private sector company, a bank, I worked for had minimum interview numbers. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 7:21
  • 1
    Whether something is "reasonable" seems a poor guide to whether or not there are organisations out there doing it! Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 14:44
  • 1
    Just like it is usually a good idea to get three or more quotes when you want something done to your house, it is usually also a good idea to interview more than one candidate before making a decision to hire. Commented Aug 18, 2021 at 14:32

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