The Rule of Four: Optimize Your Hiring Process for Success

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In the world of recruitment and selection, finding the right candidate for an open position is a challenging task. One approach that has been used for some time is known as the “rule of four,” which limits the number of rounds of interviews with a candidate to a maximum of four. This rule is based on the idea that after a certain number of conversations, the predictive value does not increase significantly anymore. While this approach has been popular, the practice seems to be taking a different path today. In this article, we’ll explore the rule of four, discuss the arguments for and against it, and reflect on how modern companies optimize their hiring process.

The Rule of Four: What is it and Why?

The ‘rule of four’ states that the number of interviews with an applicant must be limited to a maximum of four. This approach is based on research that shows that the predictive value of additional rounds of conversation decreases significantly after the fourth round. According to this perspective, putting candidates through multiple rounds is a waste of time and resources because the added information does not significantly contribute to identifying the most suitable person for the position.

Lawyers for the ‘rule of four’ point out that limiting the number of calls allows companies to recruit more efficiently. This is beneficial for both the organization and the candidate. It shortens the recruitment process and prevents talented candidates from dropping out due to the lengthy and time-consuming procedure.

The Modern Countermovement

Although the ‘rule of four’ seems a logical starting point, we are now seeing a trend where companies deviate from this pattern and hold more than four rounds of talks. This can be attributed to several factors.

Holistic Evaluation: Modern organizations are aware of the importance of a thorough assessment of candidates. They want to look not only at a person’s technical skills, but also at cultural fit, motivation, and potential for growth. This often requires more than four rounds of interviews to get a comprehensive picture of the candidate.

Diverse Perspectives: Companies understand that evaluating candidates from different perspectives can be valuable. This may mean that candidates have conversations with different team members, departments or hierarchical levels to get a more complete picture.

Competitive Market: In a competitive labor market, companies want to make sure they hire the best candidate. This can result in a longer recruiting process to ensure no potential talent is overlooked.

Balancing Efficiency and Depth

While the “rule of four” was once a strong guideline, modern businesses must strike a balance between efficiency and in-depth evaluation. It is important to recognize the benefits of a streamlined process, but also to understand the need to thoroughly review candidates to make the right choice.

One possible approach is to combine the principles of the ‘rule of four’ with the need for holistic evaluation and diverse perspectives. This can be achieved by carefully planning a selection of interviews, assessments, and test cases to get a comprehensive picture of the candidate within a reasonable time frame.

At a time when companies are committed to being more inclusive, diverse and innovative, letting go of rigid rules such as the ‘rule of four’ can open the door to new ways of thinking and approaching recruitment.


The ‘rule of four’ once offered a structured approach to recruiting candidates, based on the idea that the predictive value of additional rounds of interviews decreases after the fourth round. While this concept has its merits, modern companies are increasingly moving towards a more holistic and in-depth approach to recruitment, with candidates potentially going through more than four rounds of interviews.

It is critical for organizations to find a balanced approach, ensuring both efficiency and depth in the evaluation. The recruitment process must evolve to reflect the changing needs of the job market and the growing recognition of the importance of diverse perspectives and competencies in identifying top talent.