There is no fixed rule to the standard number of interviews before an offer. It also depends on the size of the company, the criticality of the position you’re applying for and the seniority of the job. Once, I placed a candidate after he went through 10 interviews for the same job. I was astonished and we were both tired because the company couldn’t seem to make a firm decision on him after more than six weeks. Finally they offered him the job and he did relatively well in the company.
In companies where there is a matrix reporting, the candidate is expected to undergo several interviews with the respective parties so they can compare notes and have all parties come to a consensus on hiring or not hiring the person. If it is a senior management position, more rounds of interviews is expected. I even know of a candidate who went through 35 rounds of interviews for the same position. This company sees the potential of making him an international partner some day and they are a one of the world’s biggest boutique consulting firms; thus the intensity of the process.
I do know candidates who went through six rounds of interviews for a job and ended with 3 hires and 3 no-hires from the hiring employer. When there’s a tie, the interviewing committee will meet to decide on the final fate and outcome of the candidate.
The danger about having so many interviews is the cause of confusion, anxiety and weariness. When the interviews happen to go in circles and achieve little result, one of the parties is bound to give up. What used to be positive and good may turn negative and sour through the tiring process of engaging in countless interrogation sessions. The interviewee will feel he or she is under scrutiny even before starting the job. The interviewer who was earlier in favor of the candidate may now be influenced by the negative spirit of the other opposing interviewers. A good candidate may drop out and the company returns to the scoreboard.
As a recruiter, I often check with all managers who need or needn’t be in the interview. If people are nominated to interview and they don’t have a part to play in the employee’s role, I will often question the need for it. Recruiters need to play a consultative role in the process. We have to protect our clients’ credibility as an employer and a company. At the same time, we have to protect the interest of candidates.