how long should interviews last?

A reader writes:

I’m a relatively senior executive who’s back on the job market. Whenever I’ve been a hiring manager in the past, I’ve always made it a point to block out 60 minutes on my calendar for in-person interviews. They usually don’t take that long, but I want to give myself flexibility in case I really hit it off with the person and want to keep talking to them (or if we encounter any delays). But now that I’m interviewing for jobs myself, I’ve noticed companies are frequently allocating only 30 minutes, often with a hard stop at the end.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the old “this interview is a train wreck, so I’m going to use the excuse of another meeting to end it now” trick. Nor are these HR screens where they just need to check salary requirements and available start dates. I had a second-round interview recently that was scheduled for a half hour and ended with the interviewer getting pulled out of the room for his next meeting when I was in mid-sentence. The entire interview felt incredibly rushed, with 28 minutes of him firing questions at me and two minutes for me to ask questions of him.

This particular interview process was fairly disorganized from start to finish, so I may just be reacting to an overall bad candidate experience, but in general, I find the notion that you only give candidates 30 minutes — and no more — to make their case to be ill-advised from the company’s perspective, and borderline disrespectful to the candidate. Yeah, I know, everyone’s really busy, but shouldn’t hiring be one of the activities that’s worth allocating time for? And what sort of message are you sending to potential employees when you prioritize the Quarterly TPS Report Planning Meeting over their time?

Half an hour isn’t enough time for an in-person interview. It’s enough time for an initial phone screen, certainly, but not an in-person meeting with the hiring manager. Let’s say five minutes is taken up by getting-to-know-you pleasantries and 10 minutes is taken up by the candidate’s own questions at the end (and that’s not enough, but we’ll use it for the sake of example). That leaves 15 minutes for the interviewer to ask questions and listen to the answers. 15 minutes to decide on a possible hire. That’s ridiculous.

In-person interviews should usually be an absolute minimum of 45 minutes and ideally 60 minutes or more, to ensure that you can truly talk in-depth and that the candidate has time to ask their own questions. And that’s assuming that it’s one of multiple meetings in the process. If it’s the only interview you’ll be having with the hiring manager, it should be longer. (It still might wrap up earlier if it’s the wrong fit, but more time should be blocked out, since you can’t know that in advance.) There’s just no way any employer should be confident hiring someone without talking to them for longer than that.

What you’re seeing is people who don’t know how to hire and who don’t value the importance of the hiring process strongly enough.

{ 99 comments… read them below }

  1. Gilby

    Yesterday I had a 2 hour interview for a clerical/admin position.

    About 1/2 hour was for a typing and excel test and the rest HR alone interviewed me and then 2 managers together interviewed me.

    Most were behavioral based questions. Give me a time when… and how did you manage it, type questions.

    HR asked if I wanted to eventually advanced or not. Kind of like the “Where do you see yourself in 5 years? “. She talked about benefits and that type of thing.

    I was OK with the 2 hours as I believe the questions and interaction I had with them were good. I got good sense of the job ( new job) room to make it my own and got a good look at the culture.
    My friend works there and gave a good reccomendation as we worked together before. ( crossing fingers I get the job)

    I have had typically 1- 2 hours for interviews.

    1. Greg

      At the other extreme, I once had a 2.5-hour interview with the CEO of a startup. He literally went through every job on my resume and asked me detailed questions about each one (at one point I had to admit that I wasn’t sure how to answer his question because it was about a job from 15 years ago where I worked for 7 months, and I honestly hadn’t given that job any thought in years.)

      I appreciated that he was willing to devote so much time, and it was actually a useful exercise for me to go through, but I found it a little excessive, and probably a poor use of his own time, especially since it became clear over the course of the interview that I didn’t really have the background he was looking for.

      1. PEBCAK

        Protip: don’t put something on your resume you haven’t thought about in years.

        1. John

          Really? Some of my first real jobs are on my resume to show my progression (yes, employers want to know what you’ve done since finishing school) and on the rare occasion I’ve been asked about them in any detail I’ve found it pretty odd because they are pretty irrelevant compared to more recent experience.

          P.S. — is “Protip” vs the rest of us being amateurs?

          1. Greg

            Exactly. It wasn’t like I couldn’t remember anything about the job. I just had a standard line that I usually use to describe that role, and this guy chose to probe more deeply. It was really kind of pointless for him to do so, and it was exactly stuff like that that stretched the interview out to 2+ hours.

          2. LBK

            “Protip” is just slang from the video gaming world, it’s a little condescending but not really meant to be literal.

  2. Man-In-Hat

    Last week I went to an interview that lasted 10 minutes. The supervisor spent 10 minutes talking about *his* job and then ended it. The initial phone screen with HR the day before (yes, they scheduled the interview less than 24 hours in advance) took longer than the in-person interview.

  3. Ash (the other one!)

    Yup. Most of the interviews I’ve had lately have been scheduled for 30 minutes. It really does feel short. Of course most of these jobs I have had multiple interviews…

  4. TNTT

    Can someone please direct me to one of Alison’s “stop reading into every single word” scoldings? I am (hopefully) waiting on a job offer, the company said they’d contact my references yesterday and that I’d hear “shortly.” Shortly means shortly! But I know I’m being impatient…

    (All this after two, 1.5 hour interviews that I found quite reasonable in length … to stay on topic…)

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      This is off-topic but I will indulge you this one time :)

      http://www.askamanager.org/2014/01/you-cant-predict-your-chances-of-getting-a-job-really-you-cant.html

      http://www.askamanager.org/2013/09/reading-into-things-when-you-shouldnt-an-overly-negative-staff-and-more.html (#4)

      http://www.askamanager.org/2010/08/what-does-it-mean-that-job-i.html

      http://www.askamanager.org/2012/07/how-long-should-you-wait-to-move-on-when-you-havent-heard-back-from-an-employer.html

  5. Mints

    I asked this in an open thread, but it’s relevant here too: any advice for me (as an interviewee) who can be concise to a fault? I’ve been on a few very short interviews, and I think it’s a combination of interviewers who don’t ask follow up questions, and me not knowing where to elaborate. “Practice more” isn’t super helpful because I tend to practice too-short answers. And the better and more in depth interviews have really varied on what we discuss more thoroughly. So I’m kinda at a loss at how to practice more thorough/better/longer answers

    1. Mints

      To clarify, it wasn’t a total scheduling failure, it was like they had ten questions to ask everybody, and once I gave an answer, they would move on, but I would have been happy to explain more on anything

    2. Anony

      A few ideas:
      1. Practice with a friend, ideally one who won’t be familiar with the stories you provide as your answers and have him/her follow up. This can either help you think of things you might include in your answers or just help you feel comfortable when asked to elaborate. I know I sometimes feel self-conscious when asked follow up questions, as if I failed to give a good enough answer, but that’s not always the case when an interviewer asks.
      2. If you’re not sure if you gave enough info in the interview, you can ask whether that answers their question or they want you to elaborate on something.
      3. Brainstorm before the interview how you might elaborate – and base your thinking off of what you think the company’s goals are/the goals of the position are. So for a story about your retail job, you might describe customer-facing aspects in more depth for a sales position and some other aspects more in depth for a marketing position, just as an example.

      1. Mints

        Thanks! I should definitely practice variations of “Did I explain that enough?” I haven’t done that very much at all

    3. Xay

      Frame your responses using the STAR method: Situation/Task, Action, Result. That was you can make sure that you are giving a complete response and if you lean towards conciseness, you already know that you won’t drone on. I also tend to be very concise so going into an interview, I think about the type of situations that I usually use as examples or that I draw upon for my answers and how I would put them in that framework.

      1. Mints

        Yeah, coming up with more specific examples is good advice. I think this method could work for me. Especially since my old job sounds fun, I think I need to work harder to explain through the hard parts of what I did
        Thanks!

        Though now I’m self conscious that this question was too of topic! Sorry Alison!

  6. anomnomnomimous

    The last three interviews I’ve had were all just at or under 30 minutes (even the in person ones.) In fact, in my last in-person interview, the interviewer was 12 minutes late, and then had to leave for a meeting after about 25 minutes.

  7. Xay

    Last week I had a two hour interview – four 30 minute one on ones, one right after the other. It was a little disconcerting, especially in terms of understanding the role of each person that I spoke to, but if I had a question that I forgot to ask I always had another chance and that was nice. I can see how that kind of interview could feel like an interrogation but my interviewers were pretty good.

  8. The Other Dawn

    We generally would interview someone anywhere from an hour to two hours or more, depending on the position. Generally, someone who falls into the non-exempt category would be interviewed for about an hour, because that was all that was needed. But someone doing exempt-type work or a a senior position? Closer to two hours. How can a hiring manager really get any useful information in 30 minutes? Obviously there are certain candidates that show you all you need to know in a short time, but not always.

  9. Stephanie

    I had a 20-minute interview once that involved multiple interviewers. It was just awkward. This particular interview was definitely one where they should have phone screened me beforehand. I got there and it was very clear that they wanted someone with way more experience that they wouldn’t have to train very much. So we went through all their questions. A lot were also very “yes” or “no” questions like “Are you ok with shift work or being on-call?” (It was a manufacturing facility.)

    Making it even more awkward was that I had to reschedule the interview. While driving over there, my eyeglasses snapped in half (I was switching to sunglasses for driving). I’m really nearsighted (about -8.00D in each eye), so I needed to go get my backup pair to be able to see. So I felt even more sheepish that there was all this logistical shuffling for what ended up being a lackluster 20-minute interview.

    I’ve done a 30-minute in-person interview. In that situation, I did seven back-to-back with different team members. I couldn’t really go in-depth and definitely felt like I was repeating myself after a while.

    1. TheSnarkyB

      Hey! I’m -7.00/-7.25! Nice to meet another one! People really don’t understand how bad my eyesight is.
      High five! Wait.. Too blurry.

      1. Stephanie

        *squints really hard and waves back in your general direction*

        -8.00D/-7.75D with astigmatism. If I didn’t have my Rx sunglasses at the time, someone would have had to pick me up. I wasn’t sure how to explain to my interviewer “No, I truly will not be able to see or read any paperwork. I have to go get my other eyeglasses.” I guess I could have interviewed in my sunglasses, but I didn’t want to come into an interview looking like I was hungover.

  10. kdizzle

    The job interview I had for the job I’m currently in was 15 minutes…it’s luckily a good fit and I’ve been here for about 3 years.

    I sat down in front of the interviewers and they started off by asking, “do you have any questions about the job?” I had tons of questions, but they cut it off at 15 minutes, and asked me nothing.

    I got a call an hour later offering me the job. I was an external candidate…these people baiscally knew nothing about me. Weird, but fortunate.

    1. Traveler

      Why is this a thing now, not asking any questions during interviews? It leaves me dumbfounded because I don’t know what I’m being judged on at that point. I assume resume is being taken at face value and they are simply searching out my personality, but it’s certainly difficult to prepare for interviews like that.

      1. kdizzle

        I have no earthly idea. It’s ridiculous that they seemed to have made their choice before I even sat down.

        And it certainly doesn’t do the candidate any favors. I felt like I was going into it blindly. Of course, I was looking forward to leaving my job at the circus (aka a university), and they were offering a $30k raise…so that helped to ease my worries.

      2. Stephanie

        I hate that because I get worried about asking too many questions. Too many questions and it just looks like you have too many reservations about the position. Sometimes I can turn it back into a conversation with a fairly open-ended questions.

        1. vvondervvoman

          I worry about that too, so I try to frame a lot my prepared nitty gritty questions as curious inquiries like “Do you use milk or dark chocolate to make the teapots?” so they’re more about how they operate rather than the yes/no I’m really looking for.

    2. MikiSA

      Same here: University Library setting: I was a part time employee there, and they just opened position, interview took some 15 minutes, and consisted of me having to identify subjects of three books in three different languages (Russian, Polish and Czech). Coming to 2 years working for the Library.

  11. Valar M.

    30 minutes seems to be the norm that I’ve noticed though. And I’ve also noticed a trend of increasing number of people interviewing me – I remember when I thought facing a panel of 3 people was intimidating and now its up to 6 and 8, which is I assume why there is a declining amount of time per person or per session.

    1. Greg

      Yeah, I’ve never been a big fan of multiple people interviewing a candidate at the same time. One of the goals of an interview should be to have a natural conversation, and that’s much harder to do if the candidate feels like she’s facing a “murder board”.

    2. Callie

      Once I interviewed for a teaching job in a district where openings in my subject in multiple schools opened up at the same time and all the principals decided to do mass interviews. So I had a panel consisting of the principals from the six schools that had openings, a teacher from each of the six schools, and three other teachers in my subject from other schools in the district… a panel of fifteen people! So scary. (I did get a job there, though, and stayed for thirteen years. :) )

  12. B

    Last batch of interview were 30 minutes. I once had one that was 2 hours but that was a bit on the ridiculous side.

    1. OriginalYup

      On the ridiculous side, I once went in for a 1.5 hour interview (with a group of 3 interviewers and me as the 1 candidate), that turned into an all-day marathon session. They were (a) apparently very excited about me, and (b) the most long winded people I’ve ever encountered. After the 1.5 hour turned into 3 hours, they kept asking if I could stay to meet “one more person” — by the end, I met with six additional people including the head of the division.

        1. OriginalYup

          Nope — we couldn’t agree on salary. They wanted diamonds on a zirconia budget, and I wouldn’t budge on my minimum number.

      1. Sharon

        I have a ridiculous one, too. I was interested in getting a job with one of the large consultancy companies so was keeping an eye on their job postings and occasionally emailing their HR team. After a couple months they invited me in for an interview. I thought….

        It was actually a “have all the managers who have openings (about ten of them) interview a bunch of candidates (about 12 people)” round robin style, ten minutes each. Exactly like speed dating. The candidates sat at a table while the hiring teams rotated around the room. I didn’t interview well for that one because I spent a lot of time sitting at my table alone in between interviews while others spent their full ten minutes and most seemed to get chosen by some team. I’m sure I had a befuddled deer in headlights expression because I had no idea what was going on.

        Dodged a bullet, I think.

        1. Stephanie

          I did something like that in college at a Society of Women Engineers career fair. MegaCorp was doing mass hiring and did round robin interviews. They lasted about 20-30 minutes each (you did have a scheduled time). I actually got two offers from that. I do think that format would only work for a mass hiring event (like that one) where the candidates are all entry-level and have pretty similar profiles.

        2. Vv

          This is really strange for a consulting company. Most do case interviews, and these do need 1 hour – even that is often not enough if the candidate gets stuck on a calculation. It must have been some initial screening-type event.

      2. Stephanie

        I cut it really close airport-wise because of a long-winded interviewer. Interview was supposed to end at 3:30 and was running over. My flight out of LAX was at 6 (I was worried about bad traffic to the airport and had no clue about travel time or security waits). But I also wasn’t sure how to tactfully be like “OMG, I have to catch a plane! I didn’t pack extra underwear!”

        Luckily, someone came in like “Hey, she really needs to leave now.” Of course, that person then talked to me for 20 more minutes. I ended up taking a very expensive cab ride to the airport and barely making my flight. Company was paying for the interview travel anyway, so it probably wouldn’t have been that big of a deal to rebook a flight (especially since I was only flying to Phoenix), but it was still kind of nerve-wracking.

  13. Chocolate Teapot

    I once had a 3 hour interview, but it was for an admin role, so there were various tests. Even so, there comes a point when you just feel like you have had enough!

  14. Ask a Manager Post author

    Re: the off-topic question I just removed —

    I fear my answering one above might have indicated it’s okay to post them here, but I do try to keep us on the topic of the post, since otherwise the comment sections can become unwieldy (in fact, they already do get unwieldy pretty commonly, even with staying on topic).

    1. Stephanie

      Hmm, what’s your rule of thumb for digressions? I’ve noticed the comments can get really off-topic from something that started out very on-topic. I’m thinking of the digression into jury duty the other day or when a few of us all realized we went to the same university.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I understand sometimes it will develop naturally. My hard and fast “don’t do it” rule is about starting off a new thread with something totally unrelated to what’s being discussed, just because you want to get a quick answer. (For instance, if I posted in this thread with a question about dealing with a crazy boss, unrelated to anything being talked about here.)

        1. Stephanie

          Oh yeah, Corprette’s horrible about that. You can tell some posters are just waiting for the post to go up so they can post an unrelated comment.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Interestingly, I’ve noticed they’ve started putting up notices on some posts telling people that they have to stay on topic. So I think they must have changed their mind on how they want that to go!

            1. Stephanie

              D’oh. I meant that to be a reply upthread. The threadjacking got really crazy over there. I noticed Corprette’s posts about staying on-topic as well. The post would be about appropriate interview attire and the first comment would be a poster asking about how to navigate a long-distance relationship.

              I still don’t think it’s working too well. A post I just looked at was about a pair of pumps and comment #2 was about maternity leave.

              1. Stephanie

                Oh weird. My Corprette comment showed up as a standalone when I first loaded the page.

            2. Windchime

              Interesting. I quit reading Corporette about a month ago because the topic of the post would be “Black Peep-toe pumps that are work-appropriate” and the first post would be “Threadjack! Should I leave my husband?” Bizarre. Glad to see that they might be trying to reign that in a little.

  15. P

    I just had an interview last week that lasted 25 minutes, -including- a 10 minute tour of the facility. I’m 95% sure it was just a courtesy thing (reciprocating between similar facilities), and I’m a bad fit…. but do I really want to work somewhere that spends 15 minutes asking questions for a permanent job where you really can’t leave in the middle of a school year?

    Most places I’ve interviewed (universities) have been 1-2 hours, I think that’s normal.

    I had one interview at a government facility that lasted 6 and a half hours — and the job was only going to be for a year! (I also later found out they didn’t even get funding, so they were interviewing with the hopes of hiring.) Luckily it was a big string of smaller parts, but I was SO mentally fried by the end.

  16. Seal

    Interviews for staff positions here take between an hour and an hour and a half. The first 15-20 minutes are with HR; the rest of the time is spent with me and the staff members the new hire will work with. I usually spend 30-40 minutes with the interviewee, then send them to my staff for another 15 or so minutes, then end the interview back in my office for 10-15 minutes. All candidates are asked the same questions; afterwards my staff members who spoke with the candidates and I compare notes. Most of the questions asked of the candidates are open-ended; I always give candidates the opportunity at the end of the interview to ask questions. And we always check references. Better safe than sorry.

    The one time I was subjected to a 30 minute interview it was obvious they already had a candidate in mind and were just going through the motions with me. Maddening.

    1. Seal

      The post above reminded me that we also give each candidate a tour of our library, which also gives them the opportunity to ask questions.

  17. Jake

    I’ve never spent less than 3 hours in an interview that wasn’t just a screen. I usually spent about 30-40 minutes on screening interviews.

    Most of my interviews have required extensive travel, so they are almost always half a day with a lunch break in the middle.

    1. Judy

      That’s what I was going to say. I’ve always relocated for jobs, and usually scheduled from 9:30 -2:30 for interviews. This would include starting info with HR, at least 2-3 one on one interviews, a facilities tour and lunch. Sometimes one of the sessions would be with 2 or 3 interviewers, usually from the peer group.

  18. Red Librarian

    Oh, Academia.

    My last job interview at a university lasted about 10 hours. Started with breakfast meeting at 8 am, dinner ended around 6 pm.

    1. Seal

      Interviews for academic library administrators are generally 2 day affairs, not including dinner the night before day 1 or the initial screening interview.

      The interview for my current academic librarian position started with dinner the night before a day-long interview. The day of the interview – which included a my doing a presentation, touring several library buildings and meeting with a number of people and committees – was a blur. Fortunately they gave me an interview schedule with names of the people I would be meeting; otherwise I would never have been able to send thank you notes. Once I started my new job, people regularly introduced themselves as someone I met during my interview; most of the time I had no idea who these people were. Academia is weird like that.

      1. Red Librarian

        Oh yeah, this was just for a librarian position. I can’t even imagine what administration positions would be like in terms of an interview.

        I got a list of some of the names of people I’d meet, but throughout the course of the day I met others I wanted to send Thank You letters to. Luckily the staff is small and I was able to figure out from the website who I had talked to.

    2. Tasha

      Grad student interviews are, in my experience, 1-2 days of visiting including meals and time to ask questions of other students. The group where I work has a few new postdocs this year, and the candidates all stayed for a day or two and gave talks.

  19. Robin

    I had a phone screen recently that I was told would “definitely be less than an hour” but was more like an hour and 15 minutes. 30 minutes is not enough time for an in-person interview. I’d say 2 hours is about right especially if you’re only doing 1 or 2 in person interviews. And if, for whatever reason, the interview is structured to be more than 2 hours, it would be an act of kindness to build in a break.

    1. louise

      Yes, do build in a break for a longer times! Though, the one I had like that ended up feeling awkward to me: I needed to use the restroom and the two interviewers, both female, were like, “Oh, just follow us–it’s right this way.” So we all traipsed in there together. It felt…weird. I realized I should just be a mature adult and not think it was weird (presumably we all have plumbing, right?) but I did not want to pee in a stall next to an interviewer! I did thank my lucky stars I wasn’t a guy with a urinal situation…

  20. NavyLT

    It’s been almost 10 years since my last job interview, which took place while I was still in grad school. It went for about 15-20 minutes, starting off with a couple questions about my classes before the interviewer launched into a discussion of the benefits the company offered (he was really selling the virtues of the pet insurance). I had the impression they’d already decided to hire me. It probably won’t be a surprise when I say the offer fell through due to problems on their end…

  21. Heather

    Wow, I’m used to day long interviews that include a 20 minute presentation, although it’s been awhile since I’ve had to go through something like that myself. When I hire paraprofessional staff I usually allot for 1.5 hours which includes a tour of the space and our collections. We’re small so fit and skill are both extremely important.

  22. Gwen Soul

    Our final round of interviews (which come after a phone screen) last 6-8 hours. We generally have a few teams hiring at a time for similar work so we have hiring managers and team members interview in 2’s for 60 minutes each.

  23. Another Cat

    I envy those of you whom have had short interviews. I keep falling into interviews where first it’s 15-20 minutes on the phone for the HR pre-screen, then 1 hour for the on-phone technical with the hiring manager et al., then all day for the in-person, with me rotating among everyone’s office every 20-30 minutes, 1 hour for lunch, and 1 hour of a technical presentation, 30 minute tour. 8am – 5 pm. Plus, everyone has the same list of questions to ask, so you end up answering the same questions 16 times. Exhausting.

  24. Ali

    I don’t think any of my interviews have ever gone more than half an hour. When I was trying to get into sports, it was so the norm that people were relocating for positions that one phone interview was common to make hiring decisions (so many teams are minor leagues with small budgets that it doesn’t make much sense to be flying in candidates, etc.). I don’t think I’ve heard of anyone who’s had an hour and a half or two-hour phone call, though. My friend just got hired by a hockey team and she only had a phone interview before the offer was made.

    That’s not to say that in that field people are never brought in for in-person interviews. It might happen depending on the team/position, but phone interviews are way more common.

  25. Kay

    Thanks for keeping us mostly on topic! Those kinds of things are definitely best for open threads on Friday :-D

  26. itsame...Adam

    4 months process, 1 company, 2 interviews on the phone each 30 minutes. 2 in person interviews totaling 6hrs with total of 6 people ( one-on-one 1hr sessions) + talks with HR rep.. No job offer as they decided to increase experience requirement after all that. A 30 minute interview would have saved me some time :)

  27. Chris

    I share your frustrations with rushed interviews. At my last interview the woman running it got up and started walking back towards the lobby without giving me an opening to ask any questions. She kept talking the entire way there. So here we are in the lobby when I said something (I really don’t recall what) while getting pushed out the front door and she says, “Oh, I should show you an example of _, shouldn’t I?”

    Um, yeah, that would be helpful actually. Before I was standing in the lobby looking like an idiot would’ve been even better.

    When you rush through an interview like this it doesn’t help the interviewee understand the job, or the interviewer effectively evaluate the candidate. I wonder how much of this is a response to getting mountains of applications- if a company hasn’t hired recently and receives 300 applicants when they previously had only 30, they may be getting overwhelmed thinking of the time investment each candidate represents.

  28. Scott M

    On my first job out of college (30 years ago) my first interview lasted a good portion of the day, including lunch. At the end of the interview I mentioned that I was pleased, but surprised, that my first interview was so detailed. The hiring manager looked confused for a bit, but soon went on to other topics.

    I later suspected that my dad, who worked as a contractor for the same company, had sweet-talked the ladies in HR into placing my resume on the short-list. I essentially skipped over the initial interview.

    It worked out OK. I got the job. Ran into a spot of trouble a few years later that ended with me leaving before I was fired (performance issues and me being immature) but I learned a lot.

  29. JenTheNiceHRGirl

    When our managers here do a 30 min interview, that means that it wasn’t going very well and they wanted to end it early. Otherwise it is more like 60 mins. The shortened interview is saved for when the interview is clearly not going very well and they don’t want to waste any more time knowing that they are definitely not moving forward with the candidate.

    Once I had a 3 hour interview and it was awful. I think that 60-90 minutes are plenty of time for a 1st interview. It is just way too hard for me to sit in my seat for 3 hours straight, plus I was talking so much and got very thirsty!

  30. Bend & Snap

    Early in my career I had a few long, excruciating interviews with multiple interviewers. It seems the further along I go, the more focused and concise the interviews get. I haven’t had a 4-hour interview marathon in about a decade.

  31. Purple Dragon

    Sometimes a short and/or disorganised interview needs to be taken in context, other times it’s a big red flag.

    I had one interview (years ago) where I arrived and they couldn’t tell me anything about the job, who I’d be working for or anything. They also asked random questions that didn’t really apply to the situation. It lasted about 20 minutes and when I left I knew there was no way I’d work there.
    My last interview was an extremely disorganised 10-15 minutes. The company was in the middle of packing to move offices, preparing for Y2K (it was November 99) and they completely forgot I was coming. I think I got the job in part because I climbed over boxes, drank really bad tea out of a disposable cup that had seen better days and just laughed about the whole thing. I was offered the job within a day or two and I’m still here all these years later.

    1. Judy

      My husband once showed up for an (in town) interview and the HR person who called him in asked him “So what job are you interviewing for? Did I tell you who the Hiring manager was?”

  32. Lamington

    i had a couple that had been about 5-10 minutes. In one the manager had already decided before i even arrived he didn’t want to interview me, so he ushered me quick out of his office. The second one the place looked so shady and gave me the creeps so i ended it as soon as i could.

    1. Gilby

      I had a 15 min interview once. It wasn’t a screening one. It was like they already had someone or decided not to fill the position or whatever.

      I knew there was something fishy as the questions I was being asked seemed like she was just trying to come up with something to fill at least some time to make the interview look legit.

      Wasted my time and I blew vacation time.

  33. Alex

    I’ve had interviews (or series of interviews) that would last 5-6 hours, during some of which my head started to hurt literally!
    (And I’m only a junior(ie., none of the positions I was applying for is senior))

    But I guess that’s kind of normal in the tech industry.

  34. Persephone Mulberry

    Actual conversation between my supervisor and her manager yesterday:

    Mgr: Let’s meet at 11:30
    Supv: I have that interview coming at 11.
    Mgr: You sbould only need about 20 minutes for that.

    This was for an executive assistant to the CEO. And they wonder why they’re on their third hire for this position in two years.

  35. Ellie

    Pretty much every single interview I have ever had has been 30 minutes. Or shorter.

    They will schedule it for a half hour and even remind me in the beginning saying “I have a half hour to ask questions, if I feel you have answered the question thoroughly I might stop you, if we have enough time you can ask questions.”

    I agree that it is hard to have an interviewer know your personality in 30 minutes, but it is difficult to change anything when this is the culture of these organizations.

  36. Henrietta Gondorf

    My husband went for an IT interview that included a lengthy skills assessment. They told him he could take up to 8 hours on if he wanted, which seemed odd to me, but not my industry. Of all things, he was interrupted during the assessment by security clearance investigators asking about my husband’s college roommate. Since then, he’s been rather leery of interviews that are scheduled for more than an hour.

    1. Neeta

      I also work in IT, and never had an interview technical coupled with HR that last over 3 hours, though mostly just about 1.5 – 2h.

      Maybe your husband was interviewing for some secret service agency, where they needed to go through a more thorough interview process… Otherwise, I can’t imagine why they’d ask such a security question.

  37. Too Detailed for My Regular Pseudonym

    I had one interview that consisted of “Do you have any questions?” and ended immediately (maybe two minutes?). With the benefit of hindsight, it was a bad interview on the hiring manager’s part as well and I’m glad I didn’t get it, but there’s a part of me that wishes I had known Alison’s magic question at the time because I totally blew it.

    To get my current job, I interviewed with nine people over six interviews on four different days over about a month. Most were 30-45 minutes, however I was left alone for a very long time after one was rescheduled at the last minute by a couple hours. I had to wait for most of that period in the empty cafeteria.

    My overall impression at the time was that every time I thought I was done (whether I got the job or not) another interview popped up. Quantity can matter as much as length.

  38. Lizzy

    I have had interviews run as short as 35-45 minutes, but they were all scheduled under the assumption we would need the full hour. I have never had an in-person scheduled for anything less than an hour.

    On a less related note, I once had a phone interview (scheduled for 15-20 minutes) end after 3 minutes. I was asked the usual “tell me about yourself” and the interviewer seemed so agitated at my answer, he then asked me if I had any questions. Confused and realizing it was not going well, I attempted to ask a question or two — which he barely answered either one coherently. He then thanked me for my time and hung up. I later found out this guy screens candidates in 5 minutes or less and that he never intended to use the full 15-20 minutes.

  39. Befuddled Squirrel

    The interview process at my current and previous jobs is back-to-back half hour interviews with at least four people. When I interviewed for my current job, the hiring manager’s manager took me out for lunch after I had talked to everybody. I think this is a common interview process at tech and media companies in my area.

    I’ve also had an hour interview with a panel of three people (very intimidating and I did poorly) as well as public sector interviews where they ask you a standard set of questions and someone transcribes your responses.

  40. Neeta

    I find it incredibly weird for the interviewers to leave while you’re in the middle of a sentence… and how does that even work? Do they excuse themselves, or do they just up and go?

    I’ve had a few interviews, where I let them know that I would have to leave by [time] as I had to get to work. These were meetings where the interviewer couldn’t fit me in from 6pm onward.

    So, about 10 minutes before the time elapsed, they’d politely tell me something like “well since we only have _____ more minutes, how about ______?”

    I’ve had colleagues who were asked to conduct technical interviews for multiple technologies, and they could never fit them in 1 hour, yet HR still kept scheduling them as such.

    On the other hand, one of my colleagues told me about a candidate, who just got up, said he had to leave, and left the interview mid-way. My colleague was rather surprised by it all.
    To be fair, the candidate was told it would be a 1 hour interview, and he probably had something else scheduled afterwards, but still. I would’ve expected him to at least excuse himself or something…

  41. Vicki

    Where: Silicon Valley / SF Bay Area
    What: Tech industry – development, tech writing, etc. (Companies like Apple and Yahoo!)
    Timeline: 20+ years

    Most interviews I’ve been part of, on either side of the table, have been set up with 45 minutes per interviewer. Occasionally, a time slot is only 30 minutes long; that’s usually the first or last slot and with the recruiter or HR person or maybe a followup with the person who conducted the phone screen.

    Also, the person who was called out, and much worse, actually left while the OP was “in mid-sentence”, says more than the short time slots for that company. Those people have time management issues and respect issues. You do not want to work there.

  42. Beeskneez

    A second-round interview I attended a while back lasted less than 5 minutes, and the interviewer obviously confused me with someone else as he was constantly asking me if I had lab-based research experience (this was for a risk analyst job that had NOTHING to do with labs). I explained to him I did not have any experience and he kept asking me the same question twice. I thought that was quite rude and inappropriate although the first-round interview (with two other people) went well and lasted about half an hour. Then he said he might contact me if he required further details. Never heard from him again.

  43. Stacy

    I had a second job interview awhile back for a Marketing Executive position in a automobil company with their Marketing Director. My interview was scheduled at 10am,but I was interviewed 11am. I am quite confused because it seems like the interview only lasted for about 10 minutes. She just asked 3 questions such as Tell me about yourself, Why did you left your previous job and a little bit information about Marketing. After that she told me she will just ask more about me to the person who first interviewed me because she has a meeting. She also told me to wait for a call or text to the person who interviewed me first. She didn’t even ask me about in depth/ behavioral questions. Is that a bad sign? Does that mean they already have other person to hire? I feel like its unfair.

  44. Vee

    So I had a question about this certain topic..my husband had applied for the school district, the position in itself required that he work closely with the Superintendent. My husband mentioned he was asked 10 questions and informed he had only 25 minutes to answer each question, I thought this was odd, he said that most of the questions were situational but the one question took up most of his time asking about his background. My husband said that he informed the panel of 5 interviewers, of his background in the Navy and serving his country & his Supervisor & Manager skills being employed with the State of 10 yrs, he said one of the gentlemen raved about his shiny black shoes, and took notice at least 3 times, by leaning over and looking at his shoes. Then the other gentlemen on the panel told my husband that he had 10 mins left so they better hurry up. My husband said he felt rushed. My husband questioned is this a good thing or bad thing when your being rushed during your interview process?? Or maybe that had someone already in mind?

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