are short interviews always a bad sign?

A reader writes:

I’m a recently barred attorney working on fellowship right now, but I’m in the process of interviewing for more permanent and long-term entry-level attorney positions.

I’ve had several interviews at this point that didn’t pan out (either because they decided I wasn’t the right fit, or I decided they weren’t). But I just had my second interview with an office that I’m very excited about! My first interview was with the attorney who’s the head of the department that I’d potentially be working in. It was a typical first interview — about 30 minutes, maybe a bit longer, and I felt like the interviewing attorney and I had a good rapport. I knew I had plenty of competition, because the attorney interviewing me had a stack of 20+ resumes underneath mine. Nevertheless, I walked away from the interview with a good gut feeling.

Apparently my good gut feeling was right, because I was contacted for a second interview, this time with the head attorney over all the legal departments in the office. The interview was scheduled for a full hour. I prepared rigorously — outlined bullet points for answers to both typical and “tough” interview questions and came up with some stories to demonstrate my work skills. I was fully prepared to talk to this attorney, intelligently, for an hour.

On the day of the interview, the attorney walked into the conference room and proceeded to interview me. She asked a few questions about my current position, past experience, and my recent move to a new state. I tried to answer her questions fully and intelligently, using the material I’d prepared. She did a lot of head-nodding, “mmm hmmming,” and positive commenting as I answered. She then asked if I had any questions. I know this is typical for interviews, and I had prepared thoughtful questions beforehand. I asked them, and she answered them fully, in a way that portrayed the office positively. She spoke highly of the team I’d potentially be working with. I used her answers to my questions as a method to engage in meaningful dialogue and highlight my skills and my enthusiasm for the position. She asked when I’d be available to start, if hired, and gave me a business card. Overall, I got a really positive impression of our interaction. I felt like we had a good conversation that involved balanced back-and-forth, and I felt like the interviewer opened up and became more relaxed as the interview progressed (which I typically take to be a good sign). Here’s the thing though: the interview, which was scheduled for a full hour, lasted only 15 minutes. Maybe 20.

That typically sets off every alarm bell in my head. I’ve always heard that short interviews are bad news. But, like I said, I genuinely felt like it was a good interview (and like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been to several interviews lately — I know when an interview isn’t going great). When I mentioned this to a friend, she suggested that maybe they’d already made the tentative decision to hire me, and they just had to have me meet with the head attorney to comply with some internal hiring procedure. I think in some situations that’s possible, but I know for certain that there were other finalists called back for this position (when I contacted the appropriate staff member to set up my interview, I was told that my first time slot preference had been filled by anther interviewee).

So my question for you, and any others who may chime in, is this: are short interviews always bad news? Am I completely misreading this as a good interaction? I understand that her seemingly positive behavior towards me does not mean that I’ll be hired, or even that I’ll progress in the hiring process. I’m just wondering if you, or others, have any insight related to whether a short interview always means you didn’t impress?

Short interviews aren’t always bad news, but they are usually ineffective interviews.

Here are some of the things a short interview can mean:

* The interviewer isn’t a primary decision-maker and isn’t highly invested in the process.
* The interviewer is just signing off on a decision that’s mostly been made already. She’s just getting a general feel for you and looking for any obvious red flags.
* The interviewer is a weak interviewer and doesn’t actually know how to rigorously evaluate candidates.
* It’s a courtesy interview; you’re being interviewed as a courtesy to someone who recommended you, but you’re not considered a strong candidate.
* The interviewer concluded partway through that you’re not a strong candidate and therefore wraps things up early.
* The interviewer is overbooked that day and is rushing through your interview so she can get to another appointment. (Not fair to you, and certainly not good hiring, but it happens.)

So there are lots of reasons that could explain why the interview was so short — some of them bad, yes, but plenty that aren’t.

In general, you’re much better off not trying to read into things like this in an attempt to figure out your chances. You can have an interview that you think went great and still not get the job. And you can walk out of an interview thinking you blew it and then get an offer. It’s just very, very hard to predict.

One caution about short interviews though: Remember that the point of the interview isn’t just for them to assess you, but also for you to assess them. Are you getting enough of a chance in the two short interviews you’ve had so far to gather the information that you need? Are you getting enough of a feel for the work, how your success would be measured in the role, what challenges to expect, what the culture is like, how likely you are to excel at the job, and whether it’s a job and a company you’d be happy in?

If you don’t feel like you’ve been given a chance to explore those things and you get an offer, it’s totally okay to ask to set up some time with the hiring manager to run through your own questions. Just because they do short interviews, that doesn’t mean you have to make your own choice based on short interactions.

{ 77 comments… read them below }

  1. OrganizedHRChaos

    My second interview was about the same length of time (13 yes ago) and I got the job. Still have it.

    1. Rachel Morgan

      My first interview was 20 minutes long, and I got the job. And it’s a director-level job.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP, is there another stage in the application process? I don’t know if you’re going into a private firm or a nonprofit, but there’s a good number of legal employers that have a 3-stage process (first interview screen, second screen, third panel interview and/or simulation). Or, as Alison notes, the second interview was pro forma and intended to serve a different purpose than an in depth interview.

    But definitely don’t read into it! It’s not worth borrowing extra stress over something you can’t really interpret or influence.

    1. The OP

      From what I can tell, the only potential third step would be a meeting to extend an offer & negotiate salary/benefits. There’s no final panel or simulation that I’m aware of.

      But you’re right, the stress serves no purpose haha. I’m just a chronic worrier.

  3. MK

    I occassionaly sit in a panel that is part of an extremely rigorous hiring process (written exam, oral exam, language tests, background checks, psychiartic evaluation, etc). Our part in it lasts a couple of minutes per candidate; basically, unless we think the candidate is a potential homocidal maniac/terrorist/foreign spy/other very undesirable quality to have when working in the judiciary, we just rubberstamp them and move on.

  4. MuseumChick

    Not always! The first job I got out of grad school, me and one of my classmates (Jerkface) were both interviewing for it. Jerkface had his interview first, I had mine a few days letter. He approached me the day of my interview and said “So, how long was your interview with The Museum?” I knew Jerkface was trying to pull some jerk move so I just shrugged and made some kind if non-response. He puffs out his chest and says “Well, mine last 45 minuets!”

    Mine had lasted 20 minuets. I got the job he didn’t. Months later when I got to know my boss well I told her this story and she started laughing. They said the reason mine was so short was because they could tell right away I was a good fit. His lasted so long because they felt like he didn’t really understand what the job was about and were trying to explain it to him.

  5. Dorothy Zbornak

    The head of HR who set up my interview with my now-boss scheduled us for 30 minutes but warned me that the boss tends to be quick and not to be alarmed if it only ran 15-20 minutes. We actually ended up going over 30 minutes because the conversation was really good, but I appreciated having the heads up beforehand, because if we’d ended fast I’m sure I’d have been wondering about it like the letter writer. I got a quick offer afterwards, so I had the feeling that I’d been recommended to my now-boss as the top candidate and she was just looking out for obvious red flags, as Allison mentioned.

  6. EditorInChief

    It’s hard to read the crystal ball. For my current job they told me my initial interview would be 45 mins-1 hr. There were two people interviewing me, and after about 15 minutes the interview just kind of ended. It was very weird, and I just figured my skills aren’t what they’re looking for, and they didn’t want to waste time, which I appreciated. I told a friend about it and he said, ‘It’s the opposite. They liked you but don’t have any decision making power. They’re just pre-vetting people.” And he was right. A few days later I got called for a second interview, and eventually the job!

    1. TZ

      At my previous job, I had a long phone interview (I was out of town the week they did first round interviews and they accomodated me). I got called into a second interview in person and it lasted all of 5 minutes; they barely asked me any questions but did answer a few I still had and then were like “Cool, that’s all. Let me check in with the HR person.” and left the office while I was like “I put on a suit for this shit? What happened? I thought they were excited about me. Oh, well.”

      …then they came back in with the HR person and made me an offer on the spot. They’d already decided to hired me based on the phone interview and a glowing reference from mutual professional contacts and were just doing a sanity-check meeting me in person first.

      I mean I don’t think that manager was *great* at hiring but just an ancedote for the ‘it’s not always a bad thing’ column. (I did schedule a follow-up site to the regional site I’d be working from part of the time before accepting.)

      1. The OP

        Scheduling a follow up before accepting was a good idea! That’s something I might do in the event I’m extended an offer. They’ve been great about answering my questions so far, but I always think of more later.

  7. Jerry Vandesic

    My shortest ever was a 21 minute interview, where they flew me from Philadelphia to London (in business class!). I met with the COO in a small satellite office, and before I knew it it was over. The interview did go well, and I was able to quickly lay out my plans for the new business they were looking to build. After meeting the COO, I thought I might be speaking with someone else, but no, the interview was over and I flew back the next day.

    He made me an offer, and it was a very good job. He was one of the best people I have ever worked for. The COO was a very decisive guy, and he knew my background and had talked to the others I had interviewed by phone. Honestly, the only thing I was really concerned with was their willingness to pay over $10,000 to fly me in business class for a meeting that lasted less than 30 minutes. But the COO always wanted to meet the people he hired in person, so it was worth it to him.

    1. The OP

      Oh my goodness! That is QUITE the expense to undertake for such a brief interview. But I’m glad it worked out so well!

      1. RUKiddingMe

        Five minutes on the phone on a Friday afternoon. Offer made and accepted. Started work that Monday…never having actually met anyone in person.

        I was young and didn’t think much of it. I would be a little more reflective/reticent these days. However it was a great job. IIRC I stayed about five-ish years.

  8. Hyacinth Bucket (Pronounced Bouquet!)

    My first interview for my current law firm job was 10 minutes long, and I was 100% sure I had bombed it. However, I got a callback and ended up with an offer, so short isn’t always bad.

  9. Notasecurityguard

    Otoh my “interview” for my current job was scheduled for an hour and lasted about 10 minutes. It was a grand total of 3 questions (what’s your experience in the field? And 2 field specific technical “how would you handle X?”). I got the job and talking to one of my coworkers who also got hired in the same batch as me (60+ people) that she was interviewed for like an hour and a half. Apparently the stronger candidates all got the three question interview and the weaker ones had to go through like a proper interview.

  10. LilyP

    Another possibility is miscommunication about scheduling — when I first started doing phone interviews the HR scheduler always put 45 minutes on my calendar so I made the interview last 45 minutes…one day I happened to read the back-and-forth emails between the HR scheduler and the candidate and found out they’d been telling candidates it would be a 30 minute interview. I suppose the extra 15 minutes was to make sure we set aside time to enter our notes in right after? I never did ask.

    That’s not as likely in your situation, but maybe someone misheard “half-hour” to “hour” and sent your the wrong info, or maybe their schedules changed at the last minute and they forgot to send you an update.

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      Our HR will always schedule 60 minute interviews unless specifically told otherwise, which I try to remember to do every time I find myself in the “The interviewer is just signing off on a decision that’s mostly been made already. She’s just getting a general feel for you and looking for any obvious red flags.” situation. Seriously, I have trouble going a full hour when I know the candidate has been through full pre-vetting and multiple interviews already.

    2. Eleanor Shellstrop

      This! I work at the front desk of a law firm and have recently been helping to schedule attorney interviews, and have learned that scheduling lawyers’ time is HARD. Sometimes it goes through the recruiter, sometimes just through their assistant, sometimes they don’t manage their calendar and end up on a plane when they’re supposed to be interviewing….or maybe the person scheduling made a mistake and had to move things around to cover up. There’s just no way to know, but so many possibilities for what could be happening on the administrative side.

      1. ArrozBee

        Chiming in on the complexity of scheduling attorney time. Many of them – especially if they’re more senior – have limited time and patience for meetings in general. Further, and of course not all, *many* attorneys don’t have a clue how to interview someone and are not as thorough as they could be or should be. (Source: legal office manager for the past 10-odd years.)

        Several of the more senior folks in my current firm get so impatient that they want to hire people right out of the box, and my boss (I’m the assistant admin here) has to remind them that we want folks to be a good fit, not just a butt in the seat! I’m in a major metro area, so YMMV, but the thorough interviewers are the exception that proves the rule IME.

        1. Shad

          That matches up pretty well with my experience interviewing as a paralegal. I admittedly haven’t been doing it long, but out of 3 interviews (internship, job I didn’t get, my new job), I don’t think a single one lasted more than half an hour, and they all seemed pretty perfunctory and more about fit than anything else. Which is fine—I had a pretty decent idea of what the range of work could be and my ability/willingness to do it, too, so it was mostly about fit on my side as well. It’s definitely weird to me that attorneys, whose work would frequently involve interviewing in a different context (depositions, interrogatories, finding out what the client’s story is and what they want), should have such inconsistent skills in interviewing job applicants.

          1. The OP

            All of these comments ring true—the people interviewing me are attorneys, not HR or a similar department. Hiring is not their full-time job. In case, it takes time away from their full-time job. So it totally makes sense that they’d be trying to squeeze interviews in between other parts of their day. And maybe the hour-long window was just to avoid backed-up interviews or conflicts. I mean, no one knows. But that is definitely a plausible situation.

  11. This is the story of a man named Neil Fisk

    OP, it sounds like the first interview was the critical one to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. The second interview was probably a bit of micromanagement on the part of the hiring manager’s boss, who “just wanted to be sure you’d be a good fit” or something. My advice to you would be to relax – it sounds like things went well.

    1. anon24

      This is what happened to me the job I had before this. The general manager of my branch did all the hiring, but because he ran two branches he was very rarely at ours. When I first interviewed it was with the office manager who handled all the day to day operations when the general manager was out (I was not applying for an office job). We hit it off very well, and my second interview was with the general manager. He started the interview with “well [office manager] really likes you and I trust his judgement so I’m going to offer you the job but I wanted to meet you and have a conversation first”. We talked for about 15 minutes and I had my job.

  12. bb-great

    When I’ve been on the hiring side, we’ve usually erred on the side of caution and set aside more time than we will probably need for an interview. Not an insanely long time, but enough of a cushion so we aren’t cutting into either our or their other commitments if we go a little long. I would especially not read into this too much since the person you were interviewing with would not be your direct boss.

  13. Competent Commenter

    I work in a major public university in a public facing director position. I had brief interviews with the dean of our school, assistant dean and one faculty member. I’m sure I didn’t meet with the dean for more than 15 minutes. He just liked to see the top candidates and if I’d set off any alarm bells or seemed extra awesome, his opinion carried a lot of weight even though I was several rungs down the ladder. The assistant dean interview was a little longer but without substance; since he’s two rungs up, he just likes to be involved but doesn’t really understand the job. And the faculty member had no business interviewing me at all, but had fussed because she’d be unavailable during the all-faculty time slot (which no faculty attended anyway). That time with her was a total waste and unfocused. She had no decision-making role, no questions, and was a pain the neck who has since left for another institution. So, who knows what was going on in your interview, OP, but I don’t think short means bad necessarily.

  14. ExcelJedi

    I had one like this for an analyst job. My third interview at a professional school was with the President, and it took less than 10 minutes for him to figure out that I was someone who could add context to numbers.

    (In hindsight, his intense interest in my ability to contextualize should have been a red flag. Dude did not want me working on forecasts or flagging outliers. Instead, he was constantly telling me that statisticians could make numbers say anything they wanted, and pressuring me to add “context” to numbers by deviating from industry standard formulas and definitions. That job did not last long.)

  15. Raven

    The interview I had for what was not only a job that fit my qualifications *perfectly,* but was also one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, was only three questions. I was told after that that they wanted to do a second interview in two weeks, but they ended up not doing it at all and I got the job. So I wouldn’t consider it a bad sign if you think everything else went well!

    1. FuzzFrogs

      This happened to my husband. They told him there was going to be a second interview during the next week. At the end of the week, he called to ask why he hadn’t been contacted for the second interview. They went, “Oh, we were actually working on getting approval to just skip that and hire you. Congratulations!”

  16. Escapee from Corporate Management

    Leaving grad school, I met with ~12 companies. All of the interviews generally went well. The one exception was so short, I assured my friends that company would never employ me. Of course I got the job and worked there over a decade. Turns out the interviewer was an introvert who didn’t like to chat any longer than necessary.

  17. NotAnotherManager!

    I think if your ONLY interview lasts 15 minutes, that’s a problem. If you’ve already passed an initial interview with the key hiring manager, and the second is just a confirmation of that person’s decision, I would be less concerned.

  18. Bea

    The important thing is that gut feeling it went well.

    I’ve had very quick interviews and gotten the job quickly. Depending on what they need it boils down to “did the person answer well” and “do they have the right background” then there’s the “does this feel right?” portion. You can easily get a handle on that kind of thing a lot of times. I feel like you being prepared moved things along a lot. They plan on more fumbling through the process.

    I never schedule an interview for less than an hour. I don’t want anyone to feel rushed and I don’t want a pile up of folks waiting in the lobby. Most do not need the entire hour.

  19. Trout 'Waver

    First off, congrats on passing the bar!

    Many attorneys put a ton of emphasis on law school and GPA. So they could be just vetting based on that, with the interview just being a “Can we put this person in front of clients?” check.

    1. The OP

      Thank you! It’s been a whirlwind—my spouse happened to get into grad school all the way across the country from where I attended law school. We had to pick up & move shortly after I graduated, all while I was studying for the bar in a state I’d ~never anticipated living in. The universe laughs at your plans.

  20. Bigglesworth

    Tangentially related to OP’s question – What about phone interviews? I have a phone interview tomorrow for a summer clerk position in the area of law I want to work in and in an area of the country I’d like to work in. However, the phone interview is scheduled to only be 30 minutes. Is this still considered a short interview?

    1. Trout 'Waver

      It really depends on the interviewer.

      For me personally, phone interviews are just to check to make sure that the applicant understands the job and actually did the work they claim on their resume. I aim for 10-15 minutes. Anything more in depth is reserved for a full on-site interview.

      1. Bigglesworth

        Ok. Good to know! Thank you! I wonder if this interview more than an informational but less than a full on interview since it’s for a temporary summer job. I’ll find out tomorrow!

    2. Kathleen_A

      I don’t think so. In my experience (not really as an interviewee but as an interviewer), phone interviews tend to be a little shorter than in-person interviews. There tends to be a bit less casual chat, plus I think it’s common for many people to think that a candidate is owed a little more time when he/she comes in for an interview simply because it’s more trouble than a phone call.

      1. Bigglesworth

        I hadn’t thought about about interviewers feeling obligated to give more time to interviewers in person versus over the phone. Thanks for that new perspective!

    3. Bea

      Our phone interviews are screens. Not formal interviews. It’s to make sure the job opening is clear and to give everyone a chance to get a general feeling about each other.

      Ours are rarely over 20 minutes! It’s an informational interview.

        1. Bea

          Since its a part time seasonal job the phone portion is probably to confirm that with you.

          Nothing sucks more than setting up an in person interview and not realizing those key things! It’s an instant “oh my, no I during realize that, we won’t need to go any further.”

          It’s also to make sure you are able to accommodate the schedule. The very basics to iron out.

          Good luck!

          1. Bigglesworth

            Thanks! As a 2L, I would love to to get a paid summer job and this seems like a great organization to work for based off of what another student shared with me.

    4. This is the story of a man named Neil Fisk

      30 minutes is short but nothing to worry about. Try not to schedule anything immediately after the 30 minutes, in case the interview goes long.

      I was involved with interviewing and hiring summer interns for several years (albeit not at a law firm). We’d start with a stack of resumes, winnow it down to a smaller stack of the best of them, and then set up interviews. I cannot say that everyone does it like this, but in general: if we wanted to talk to you on the phone, it was because you looked good on paper, and now we wanted to interact with you a bit.

      One thing to keep in mind: many companies (including and perhaps especially law firms) consider summer internship to be the first step in a 1-2 year process of finding and hiring qualified full-time employees. So if the firm is located in Des Moines, and they ask you “What do you think of Des Moines?” – basically, they’re feeling you out about moving to Des Moines.

      1. Bigglesworth

        That was actually one of the questions I got yesterday. “Can you explain why you want to move to Denver for the summer when you go to school in DC?” Fortunately I have a very easy answer to that, which is my spouse is from Colorado, we have family there, and plan on moving back once I’m done with school.

        There was definitely a mix of substantive and informational questions and I didn’t feel like I had a lot of time to answer, but we’ll see in a few weeks if I end up being offered the position.

  21. Djuna

    I’ve had short interviews that were bad, and one short interview (for the job I have now) that was probably the best interview I’ve ever done. It lasted just over 20 minutes. At the time I was confident about it, but when people asked me how I’d done they all got hung up on the speed of it, so I did too – wrongly, as it turns out.

    The key for me in retrospect was that it felt like a real conversation, back and forth with no stiltedness. I never felt like my now boss was mentally checking off boxes. So if in OP’s case this wasn’t a rubber stamp interview (usually the last one in a series), then I’d be a little worried about the interviewer seeming checked out too.

  22. KitKat100000

    Hello! I’m an attorney and I’m five years out of law school. I have assisted with hiring at my current law firm and at my prior law firms for law clerks, paralegals, and associate attorneys. A fifteen or twenty minute second-round interview is not something to be concerned about for the following reasons:

    1. Attorneys are busy! They’re hiring you because they’re busy and need more attorneys. If they have a big deadline coming up, even setting aside 5 or 10 minutes can seem impossible.

    2. A lot of times they will learn more from your resume and writing sample than an hour-long interview. If they can tell you aren’t a weirdo, then they really need to see you in action to see how you work, how you learn, how you analyze and if you’re right for the firm. It’s really, really hard to do this in an interview. Someone can have an amazing resume, interview well, but then be sort of lazy, sloppy, or just not prepared for the rigor of the legal profession.

    3. My one and only interview for my current job was only 30 minutes. I interviewed with two attorneys (senior counsel and founding partner) and the founding partner had to step out a couple times for calls with clients. I got a job offer the next day.

    4. My law firm job before my current one was a two-day process. On the first day: one hour interview with every attorney, half hour meetings with support staff, lunch with the founding partner. On the second day: six-hour practical work, involving analysis of agreements and preparation of a short memo. Exhausting and it felt like complete overkill, but I was desperate to move to a new state and this was the only place even willing to give me an interview, and I did get the job!

    5. A lot of smaller law firms don’t have a formal hiring process – most don’t even have internal HR. Everything is very firm specific and attorney specific. Sometimes I have been asked to interview someone after they arrived. Like hey, can you sit in on this interview? No time to review the resume or prepare questions – but they wanted my input.

    Congrats on passing the bar, don’t worry about the time of the interview, and keep us updated on your job hunt! Good luck!

    1. The OP

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment! It made me feel a little better & those are all good points. I’ll send in an update when I have something to report!

  23. Mr. Bob Dobalina

    OP, I believe you are over-thinking and reading too much into it. And I don’t believe there is any point, since you are just waiting to hear back. Your accurate or inaccurate assessment of the significance of the short interview will not make a difference to the outcome. Do you have a tendency to worry and over-analyze a lot? That’s what I picked up from your letter. You came to a lot of positive conclusions about a 15 minute interaction, and you obviously thought a lot about the elements of that brief interaction, including as compared to other similar experiences–you make your case thoroughly and eloquently that it was a good 15 minutes. I’m convinced! (not that it will help you) I happen to notice that you mentioned “talking intelligently” twice, which stood out, and I assume either you believe that is critical to your success and/or you are worried that you will not be perceived as intelligent in interviews. Interesting. Now that I have over-analyzed your letter… I wish you good luck in getting this job offer! Please provide an update later.

  24. AZEsq1

    OP hope you get the job and please update. I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum and having similar doubts, so it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out!

  25. FuzzFrogs

    This is actually something that’s been on my mind recently; I’m doing a lot of interviewing to try to make a promotion within my job (I work in a public library, so I’m trying to move from bachelor’s degree paraprofessional positions to a librarian position, which is like, A Big Deal in this profession). At my last couple of interviews (all within my current organization) I answered questions at length, trying to answer all possible details that could be covered, mentioned the theories I went to grad school to learn, anecdotes, etc. Those interviews took AT LEAST 45 minutes. But I asked a librarian coworker for advice on interviewing, and she said that one of the things she’d been told had made her compelling was that she answered questions succinctly–covering the whole question, but not rambling. So in my last interview I tried this method.

    Still didn’t get the job–but I’ve been repeatedly competing against colleagues with longer service records, so I have no idea if my interview skills or their seniority are what’s tipping the scales. (We’re no longer allowed to ask for interview feedback–a whole other story.)

    This is a VERY LONG way of saying that I’m going to obsessively read all of the comments. And would appreciate advice.

    1. Paris Geller

      I know there are a lot of librarians in the comment section, so I’d love to see if this proves true, but I made the same move you are trying to make now, and I have to say all of my interviews for librarian positions were CONSIDERABLY shorter than my interviews for paraprofessional positions. Like, generally half as long, and less people on the interview panel. One of the most intimidating interviews I had back when I was getting a paraprofessional position included a panel of five people, including the director, and lasted two hours. My interview for my current position was about 45 minutes, and the longest interview I had when job searching was about an hour, maybe an hour and fifteen minutes. I think part of that was when I was making the move from paraprofessional to librarian, I already had library experience and the interviewers felt they had to spend less time making sure I knew what being in a public library entailed, and also I was able to answer questions much more succinctly because the majority of the time, these were no longer hypothetical behavioral interview questions but in some cases issues I had dealt with literally just that day.

  26. The Raters

    “The interviewer is just signing off on a decision that’s mostly been made already. She’s just getting a general feel for you and looking for any obvious red flags.” This – my office is famous for this with second interviews. First interviews in my office are usually at least an hour. I think my second was finished in less than 10 minutes.

  27. Attorney

    I’m an attorney and I’ve found that unless you are interviewing with a big law firm that interviews tend to be short. I think most attorneys have too much work to do already to fully prepare for an interview.

  28. Noah

    “recently barred attorney”

    Stop saying this. “Barred” is not what you say to mean you are a member of the Bar. You are a recently admitted member of the bar. Barred means prohibited. Saying “barred” will hurt you in some interviews.

  29. Rebecca

    Sometimes it really boils down to the industry. I’ve done interviews for new employees for a while and did an internship in Human Resources. Some of the best candidates/current employees I’ve interviewed have had fairly short interviews because I knew if they would be a good fit quickly. The right questions and sometimes just small talk with no pressure can make interviews happen fast. I’d say my average interview time (doing 2 per person) are around 45 minutes for the initial interview (tour included) and second interview is around 15-20.

    For me personally, I haven’t found any correlation for short or long interviews. I’ve had 10 minute interviews and gotten offered the job. Reversely, some of what I thought were my best interviews (45 minutes or longer), I got ghosted or didn’t get an offer.

  30. Not myself today

    Putting in an anecdata point from the hiring side: I once interviewed someone at zero notice. The interviewer got called away just as the interview was about to start, so he asked me to do it as a first screening interview. It didn’t take very long, maybe 30 minutes, and went fine. Afterwards I told him she seemed fine and he decided to offer her the job without a second interview.

    She was fine.

    I don’t recommend that as good hiring practice but that short interview worked out fine for the interviewee.

  31. LeeCPTINF

    My last job, had a Skype interview scheduled for 5AM my time (international position). Was supposed to be a one hour interview. Their camera was off, so they could see me, but I was talking into a blank screen. Twenty-two minutes from start to end. Most uncomfortable interview of my life. Told my wife no way I’d get the job. Was hired two weeks later. Don’t take counsel from your fears.

  32. Bhubs

    I recently had an interview that went for five minutes, followed by a second interview the next day that lasted twelve-fifteen minutes. And I got the job! Not necessarily a bad sign.

  33. Bookworm

    Short interview: If this were the first interview I’d be wary (unless you already had an “in” with the company) but as it’s the second I’m inclined to agree with Alison: it may very well be that you wouldn’t be working very closely with said person or that they’re really fine with whoever their colleague(s) pick or some other reason they’re not very invested. It’s not necessarily a bad sign. I’ve had a few instances where it was very much a meet and greet situation and I still got the job.

    If this happens in the first interview, though, and you didn’t have some sort of previously connection or conversation with them, then I would be more worried. Good luck!

  34. HR Lekha

    I see no harm with short interviews. Since now-a-days the interviews have become quite monotonous with same old questions whose answers are already scripted by candidates. So rather than proceeding the same long process and getting no where with the output its better to have some short set of questions or skills which are necessary for candidate to possess for the position.

  35. Ralph Wiggum

    Back when I was interviewing candidates, the strongest contributing factor to the length of the interview was how talkative the candidate was. Every once in a while, we’d have a candidate that we had to keep directing back to answering the interview questions, instead of telling stories.

    The interview length communicated to candidates took this into account, so most interviews were much shorter than the maximum length. Taking the whole interview time was usually a negative, because the candidate was being inattentive to the interview questions.

    Candidates who answered directly to questions, were prepared, and didn’t need to have their answers clarified had much shorter interviews. Of course, these are all good traits.

  36. HNL123

    One time I had a twenty minute interview where I hardly spoke. I thought it went horribly and cried on the way home. I got a call back for a second interview that lasted another all of 30 minutes. Ended up getting the job. The work was great and the boss was great. One of my favorite office jobs.

    I’ve also had extensive multi-day interviews where I never heard from the company after. Even after reaching out and asking what the status was.

  37. Sk

    When I was interviewing for my current position I had already met 3 senior staff/partners in person, knew I loved the place, and they said they fully intended to give me an offer. However, one of the partners was on vacation and he has to personally meet and sign off on every new hire. So when he got back from vacation I went in to meet him expecting a full interview, but it turned out to only be 10 minutes of chit chatting about where we went to school and traveling. At that point it was just a formality and I got the offer letter a couple hours later.

  38. Ajax

    I had a single interview that lasted 10 minutes and I was offered the job. They had warned me beforehand that the interview will be really short and was designed that way. Who knows, I don’t think it’s a great practice but certainly doesn’t mean it’s a bad sign for you being offered a job.

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