A reader writes:
I applied for an IT position at the university here and a week or so after the posting ended received a request for a phone interview, which I happily accepted. I was told to expect a 15-20 minute interview scheduled on the half hour. The interviewers called on schedule and quickly ran through their questions and gave me chance to ask my questions.
During the couple minutes of conversation, it came out that they were in the process of doing 36 phone interviews over the course of 3 days! Can you think of any circumstances where this would be reasonable number of phone interviews to conduct? I can't imagine that the interviewers will remember anything about any of the candidates after that kind of insane interview schedule!
There was a questionnaire included in the application process that detailed applicants' experience and education with various technologies. This questionnaire was used to rank the applicants prior to the interviews.
36 phone interviews is a lot, but they're not necessarily crazy.
I usually conduct between 12 and 20 phone interviews for a position, so it's certainly more than I'd do ... but I wouldn't assume that they won't be able to remember anything about the candidates. First of all, they're almost certainly keeping detailed notes. They're probably asking everyone the same questions, and my guess is that some of them are very black-and-white questions about your specific IT skill set, which will make it easier to narrow down the candidate pool after this marathon is over.
Frankly, with the job market what it is, this may be a fairer way for them to narrow their pool. If they have a few dozen qualified candidates, the alternative would be not phone-interviewing everyone who seems like a good match. This way, they may be including people who otherwise would be arbitrarily excluded from this first round.
That said -- 36 phone interviews in three days sounds like a nightmare. I've done something close to that when I've been hiring for multiple positions at once and wanted to move quickly on all of them, and it was miserable. Hopefully those people are stronger than me.