You’ve done your research, grabbed your finest suit, and even flossed twice to make sure there wasn’t a stray piece of spinach wedged between your teeth. But there’s one very important question that you’ve not yet been able to answer: how long should it take for an interview?
Well, truth be told, it varies greatly. It is recommended for a hiring manager to allot an hour for a face-to-face interview, but there are countless reports of interviews lasting significantly less than that. Some interviewees were even interrupted mid-sentence to wrap up an interview due to a scheduling conflict.
Planning Your Time Wisely
I asked my husband, a hiring manager, what he considered an average time for an interview. He was very quick to give me feedback, firing off his requirements, expectations, and so on. What I thought was a very quick and simple question wound up being much more complex than anticipated. It was also clear that he was a very no-nonsense kind of hiring manager. When I asked him how long it usually took him to interview someone, he was very straight forward:
Fifteen minutes and I’m done. I know within the first minute if I want to hire them or not.”
He then proceeded to tell me what he regarded as employable or not, giving specific examples. “I already know if they’re qualified by their resume, so I just want to make sure they’re a good fit for the role.”
While his case is not unique, it is not the norm, either. It also depends on the role that is being applied for – his example is for an entry level tech position. For those that are being hired for intermediate or senior roles, have enough content to push through a 30 to 45-minute interview.
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How Many Interviews Should There Be?
This is another tricky question that varies from position to position. I personally have been employed by a company that only had one group interview as well as a company that had three one-on-one interviews. More often than not in my case there have been two face-to-face interviews. The former was entry-level and the latter was intermediate.
Some companies are much more in-depth than others. For example, my husband interviewed for a very large restaurant chain’s corporate headquarters and wound up going through — I kid you not — six interviews before getting the job. He was told when he was hired on that they don’t think of the interview process as hiring an employee, they thought of it as adopting a child. They wanted to ensure that you to fit into the culture, as it was most definitely a very culture-driven environment.
With that being said, the reported average is two to three interviews before receiving an offer, but higher visibility roles can take more than a handful.
Nailing the Interview
Winning an interview is much more than just a gut feeling and the stars aligning in your favor. So which is better? A short and sweet interview, or one that rolls over into lunch? Well, much like all aspects of job hiring, it varies. In order to shine your brightest, many companies recommend your interview running a little longer than anticipated. It means that there is a genuine interest. However, don’t be disrespectful of the hiring manager’s time: that’s a deal breaker.
“You want to come in ten to fifteen minutes before the scheduled interview, but no more than that. Any earlier and you could throw off the hiring manager’s schedule, or seem desperate.”
Signs That You Bombed the Interview
Did you spend all morning preparing for your interview only to find that you’ve answered all their questions ten minutes in? That may be a sign that you didn’t do as well as one might hope. Some other tell-tale signs:
- A look of disinterest. A big smile shows that the person has some interest in hearing what you have to say. Checking their phone, a bored expression, and otherwise being unresponsive are huge indicators that the interview may not be going your way.
- You aren’t asked about your skills. As interviews are all about learning about one another and ensuring a perfect fit, if the interviewer doesn’t ask for you to elaborate on critical skills to the job, it’s almost certain that they have already marked you off the list.
- The interview is more like an interrogation than a conversation.
- Other candidates are mentioned. If your interview is going stellar, it should be all about you and what you can do for the company. If the hiring manager deflects to giving examples of other candidates, that’s a sure sign that they’re considering others above you.
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