Being shortlisted for an interview, or even better–for the final stage of a hiring process, is a goal of each job candidate. How many people are shortlisted, however, and how many interview rounds you’ll have to pass, really depends on several factors.

In this article we will look at some common and popular situations and job titles (entry level jobs in big corporations, teachers, interviews with fast food giants, jobs in hotels & restaurants, and other), explaining how many people are typically shortlisted, and what your chances of succeeding are. Let’s start!

 

Entry level jobs in big corporations

To start a career with one of the Fortune 5oo companies is a dream of many university graduates. These giants advertise plenty of entry level job openings year round, and they typically receive a lot of job applications. They are popular, and their size and position allows them to offer better salaries and employee benefits to their new hires than their smaller competitors can offer–hence the number of applications they receive.

Now, the good news is that big corporations shortlist almost every graduate who applies for a job with them for the first interview. This is typically done online or over the phone. As long as you meet the basic requirements (which aren’t high for entry level jobs) they will invite you for the 1st interview.

The bad news is, however, that you will be just one o 100 or 200 people they interview over the phone… At last half of all applicants will be screened out after the first interview. First call with the employer is nothing more than a basic test of your communication skills, motivation, and attitude.

Even if you pass the first hurdle, you are far from getting the job. Most big corporations run sophisticated interview processes consisting of many rounds–including personality tests, role plays, and other funny stuff. You may go to three or four interviews and eventually end up without a job… If this is your fate, try to take it as a learning experience.

 

Jobs at schools and in public offices

Public institutions like schools and governmental agencies typically proceed differently in their hiring. They do not receive as many job applications as big corporations do, and can not choose from such a big pool of young talent.

In many cases, all people who applied will be shortlisted for a face to face interview. The number will rarely exceed 10 or 20 people, which is manageable in one or two long days interviewing applicants, from morning to evening.

This may be more time consuming than screening out half of the people in a round of phone interviews, but they do not risk losing the best applicant. Short phone interviews have their drawbacks. Someone may have a bad day (or just bad five minutes on the call), and flop their phone interview.

If they got a chance to see the hiring committee face to face, to get in the groove as the interview progresses, to overcome their nerves, things may have ended up differently.

 

Fast food chains interviews

Jobs in fast food restaurants aren’t as popular as most people think. They pay the minimum wage, and the job hoping rate is high. On the other hand, they offer a flexibility of working hours, and many places hire people as young as 14 years old. Teenagers may not get a chance in many places, but here they do get an opportunity to earn some pocket change, and eat some unhealthy garbage.

Typically everyone will be shortlisted for an interview, and most people will end up being hired. Fast food chains rely on their excellent working manuals and training programs for new hires. As long as you show motivation and agree to the working conditions and the minimum wage, they’ll give you a chance.

Engineering and IT jobs

Mechanical and electrical engineers, programmers, software testers. These guys are in an enviable position right now. The demand exceeds the supply a lot, and basically everyone who wants to work will get a job.

Unless we talk about software engineer interviews with Google or Apple or Facebook, everyone will be shortlisted for an interview. What’s more, if you apply for a job with a smaller IT firm (which struggles with employees like many other similar corporations), they may even hire you without an interview… And if they invite you to the company, you will mostly talk about your salary and benefits.

 

Jobs in hospitality business

You will find yourself in a similar situation while applying for a job in a hotel, restaurant, or bar. These places struggle with staff badly. They are always hiring–not because they are growing, but because they are almost always understaffed.

Not only that all people will be shortlisted for an interview, and there will be only one round of interviews. More often than not, you’ll be the only person interviewing for the job… This makes your situation much easier. As long as you don’t remain silent when they ask you their questions, or fail in the drug test, they will hire you.

* Please note that this isn’t true in big hotel chains or prestigious restaurants, places that attract a lot of applications.

 

Low demand, high supply jobs

Certain job titles are not advertised often, but attract a lot of applications. Think about jobs like architect, interior designer, auditor, pharmacist, school principal, and other.

Typically they require university degree and some years of experience, and it may seem that you won’t compete with many others when trying to get such a job. The opposite is true, however.

People would not mind relocating for these jobs, and most companies do not advertise similar vacancies often. When they finally do advertise them, however, (because the former auditor/principal retired, or because they are opening a new pharmacy/studio in the city), they receive a lot of job applications.

More often than not, 70% of all applicants will be screened out without a chance to prove their skills in an interview. This emphasizes the important of sending an excellent job application.

Fancy job titles

Companies love to give some ordinary positions fancy job titles. A secretary, or a data clerk, becomes “Office Manager”. A salesman, or a call center operator, becomes “Account Executive”. These are just two examples, but you can find dozens of similar job titles while browsing your favorite job board.

Low entry requirements (no higher education or experience required) characterize most of these jobs. And people typically apply–many of them. They get attracted by a fancy job title, a new definition their ego can live from. Call center operator doesn’t sound very good in front of your friends. But account executive is another story…

However, these jobs aren’t critical for most employers. They cannot afford a luxury of interviewing all applicants, and will typically just read the resumes and shortlist 5-10 people for the interviews. Others will be ghosted.

 

Conclusion, next steps

It is impossible to come with a universal number when someone asks how many candidates are usually shortlisted for an interview. It simply depends on a variety of factors:

  • First and foremost, the popularity of the job, and how many people apply. If seven, five, or two apply, everyone who meets basic requirements will be usually shortlisted for an interview. If 20 or 200 apply, situation changes…
  • The budget the company has allocated for recruitment. Interviewing people costs money and resources. What’s more, it’s a good practice to reimburse the travel expenses of job applicants, at least partially. The number of shortlisted candidates will be always higher when someone has a $30K budget than when they operate with a $3K budget.
  • Factor of time. If a company needs someone immediately, they cannot afford inviting hundred people for a 5 rounds-long interview process. They will just handpick a few resumes and interview those candidates. Oppositely, if a corporation has a strong HR planning processes in place, and know that they will need a new top manager in 4 months from now, they can start a lengthy hiring process consisting in several rounds.
  • Individual preferences and corporate values. At the end of the day, most companies have their own processes in place, and try to follow them while hiring new people. Some brands rely on online applications and tests, and will screen out 95% of applicants without ever talking to them in person, for a single second. Other companies invite all job applicants to their premises, because it is their way of leading interviews, and of seeing how the candidates react to the atmosphere in the workplace…

 

The most important question

At the end of the day, how many candidates are shortlisted for an interview is not the most important question. The important question is whether they will shortlist You.

Learn how to write a great job application, and check also the following articles to improve your chances of getting an interview invitation:

  • How to overcome interview nerves – Do not let your nerves to impact you in the most inappropriate moment–when talking to the hiring managers on the phone. Learn how to overcome your anxiety.
  • What job is right for me? Starting your professional career? Deciding about your studies? Or feeling unhappy in your present occupation? The article should help you to find your true calling in life.
Matthew Chulaw
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