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Multiple Interview Blues Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Workopolis.com Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit www.CareerActivist.com.

Question: Hello Mark, I have verbal offer from a company who is interested in me so far. My new employer-to-be has conducted two interviews. The first one was to short list and the second one a technical interview, which usually is the final interview. The second interview was done by the Manager of Software Development who would be my boss. After the second interview the HR department of the company called me with a verbal offer and we had an agreement on salary and benefits. But she said there is a last and final interview with two Directors of the company. I am now confused. What should I expect in this interview with the Directors? Is it common for the hiring company these days to do the third interview with company heads?

If so can you please advise what to expect in this, over time, final round? Thank you kindly,
Yousuf S., Winnipeg, Manitoba
Dear Yousuf,

Just when you think it's all said and done, with an offer in hand and the sweating supposedly behind you, they spring yet another round of interviews on you. I know it sounds like they're being a bit sadistic, but the truth is that in this day and age of careful hiring in Canada, you can expect to endure a growing number of interview rounds before you get the actual nod.

In your case what the employer has essentially done is offer you a ''conditional acceptance'' based on your successful performances in rounds one and two of the evaluation process. You have obviously impressed them with your personal and technical skills, to the point where they have made you a verbal offer, You've already negotiated your compensation package. Now they are merely taking one last opportunity to look you over before they commit to a formal employment contract with you.

This is not unusual these days. Over the last five to ten years, our country seems to have become increasingly conservative at hiring time. More rounds of interviews are being held than before, and the time from first interview to the actual job offer can be drawn out. Primarily this is due to the rising cost of making what employers call a ''hiring error.'' Bringing in the wrong person can be a nightmare for everyone. The work doesn't get done. Other staff are made miserable by having to fill in the gaps and put up with incompetence. Firing the person costs money. Then the whole hiring cycle has to begin again, which includes sourcing, interviewing, hiring and negotiating, not to mention training the new hire and getting them comfortably set up in their new surroundings. Who in their right mind would want to go through this over and over again?

Your task at this stage, Yousuf, is to continue making the best impression possible on your new employer. You are not officially employed until they say so, which means you have to go through this final session with the higher ups and make sure they consider you a valuable addition to the team. I've written a previous article on this topic which you can check out here.

As for what you can expect, the straight answer is ''more of the same.'' At this point the management team likely just wants to make sure that you are enthusiastic, knowledgeable, committed, ready to start work, and fairly easy to get along with. They would also like to see that you have done your homework on the organization itself, a sign not only of your dedication, but of your awareness of what you are getting into so that the risk of there being major surprises once you assume your new role is reduced.

So go in with a smile on your face, a glint in your eye, and be fully prepared in case they ask a difficult question or two. At this point they probably won't, as they hopefully trust the judgment of those who've vetted you before them. You'll be prepared anyway and thus you can be as confident - and impressive - as possible. Best of luck with things!

P.S. In case our economy does slow down as a result of the U.S. recession, you can count on an even more rigorous hiring process to evolve. When employers have lots of candidates to choose from and the bottom-line tightens (which typically happens in an economic trough), hiring managers have a tendency to delay until their ''ideal'' applicant appears. This simply means that you have to be even more persistent and patient than ever.

While US companies do what they can to evolve throughout the most recent recession, the federal government attempts to be more dynamic in its practices as well. President Obama has appointed former business executives like Charles E Phillips to his economic advisory board to help reverse some of the damage to our economy. But even after certain measures have been taken, a collaborative effort between public and private sector must be made to restore the economy back to its pre-recession status.

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