Finding the perfect candidate for your open position can feel like pulling teeth – especially during a record-breaking labor shortage. 

As a business leader or manager, you don’t want to settle for anything less than the best. You know that a bad hire can drag down performance and hamstring the team, while the right person could make your life so much easier. 

Naturally, a lot of leaders think the best way to make a good hire is to review lots of candidates. The more candidates you review, the better your odds of finding your all-star candidate, right? 

Well…not necessarily. On paper this makes a lot of sense, but when you dig into it this is not always the most efficient recruiting process. In reality, leaders are often better off focusing on a small number of great candidates. 

Focus on Candidate Quality, Not Quantity 

When leaders or managers ask recruiters to bring them more candidates, it’s usually for the same reasons: they’re either afraid of getting all bad candidates, or they don’t like any of the submissions they’ve already received. 

It’s a classic case of addressing the symptom, not the problem. If you don’t like 80-90% of the candidates a recruiter is submitting, you don’t need more candidates – you need a different recruiter! 

We’re strong believers that any recruiter worth their salt should be able to consistently hit a submittal-to-interview ratio of 80% or more. That’s the kicker here. Strong recruiters take the time to learn what a hiring manager really wants out of submittals and provides expert consultation on what the manager should look for in candidates. 

3-5 Candidates is the Sweet Spot for Interviews 

As a general rule, you should aim to interview 3-5 candidates for any given open position. Some managers prefer to interview as many as 10 individuals, but this is a much larger time sink. This may also make the process take too long, causing candidates to lost interest or accept different offers. 

In short, it circles back to the idea of quality versus quantity. If you could count on a recruiter to submit 5-6 quality candidates and trusted that they had scoured the market to find the best of the best, there’s no reason to interview more candidates. There’s no reason to ask for more submittals either.

In fact, a good recruiter focuses on submitting only a few top candidates for a reason. The recruiter has carefully screened these candidates for qualifications, confirmed their interest, and most importantly, established a relationship with these professionals. In sales terms, they are “warm leads.” They have already bought in to the position to a degree by talking to the recruiter and applying.  

In other words, they are less likely to “ghost” us on the interview or back out of the process. If we want to reduce time-to-fill and land in-demand professionals, these aspects are crucial. 

Zero in on the Best Candidates 

We need to end the notion that managers need a lot of submittals to make a great hire. If we’re getting quality submittals, quantity is irrelevant. Asking for more submittals is like treating the symptom without treating the disease. 

Focusing on a small number of the best possible candidates is the most efficient approach to making the right hires. If you’re a leader, you need to be asking whether you’re wasting time – and harming candidate experience – by reviewing too many submittals. It could determine whether you get your dream team or B-list candidates!