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Job Interview Length: What It Means For You

This post is about job interview length and what it means for your chances to get a job offer.

job interview length

Before I get started, I’m reminded of one of my favorite posts about job interview personality. It was about how we are all different and how the version of our name that we use on our resume, LinkedIn profile and when applying for online jobs says something about us. And it may not set us up for success.

It’s related to today’s post in the sense that perception plays a big role in the way candidates and hiring teams view each other. And, sometimes, that perception creates immediate excitement in you as a candidate.

And sometimes it creates risk in hiring you.

So how do you know whether you are a known risk, an identified risk on interview day or just the opposite?

Well, one way is to pay attention to the  job interview length. Now, while we don’t always know that the initial interview length is driven by risk or excitement. Or if a change in job interview length on interview day is related to our performance, there’s a good chance. And, either way, it’s to be especially conscious on interview day for signs of this.

Here are some scenarios for review:

Your interview is scheduled for 30 minutes and it lasts 45 minutes

While sometimes interviews can go long due to schedule changes or if your next interviewer is delayed, longer is usually better. Unless the interviewer is overly social and just doesn’t watch the time. A sign that longer is not better includes the interviewer looking for extra questions by an extra review of your resume, keeps asking if you have any questions or keeps leaving the room to check on your next interview.

Your interview is scheduled for an hour and it is ended 3o minutes early

Not good, right? Yep, I agree. While sometimes HR sets up 60 minute interviews for everyone regardless of their role in the interview process, generally interview teams should use their time fully. Unless the conversation is not productive. And in this case, you might get parked in the conference room to cool your jets until the next interview starts. But as I shared earlier, paying attention to the subtleties will help know when a shorter interview is a death sentence, a deferred death sentence or simply a scheduling issue.

You were supposed to interview with somebody, but they cancel while you are there

Yes, people get pulled into meetings. It happens. And the level of your interview and the gap in level with you can sometimes influence whether you or the meeting ends up as the priority that day.  So in this case it depends on how you are informed about the cancellation. “unfortunately, Mike needs to cancel” is different from “Mike is unable to make your scheduled time but would like to see if you can be back on Tuesday at 9:00 AM”. Or if Mike drops by himself to let you know and seems engaged and interested in you.

Your interviewer is 15 minutes late

A late interviewer can be due to a legitimate delay and, when still a positive moment, they will make up for it with a highly engaged remaining 45 minutes. Or a quick call to see if the interview schedule can be modified to secure the full 60 minutes. But it can also be a passive way of shortening the interview. This is either because one of your earlier interviewers made a negative comment to them or if you are known to be a comparison interview vs. a targeted and strategic one.

You are asked to stay for an additional interview while on site

This happened to me in my last interview process. And the additional was with the CEO. In this case, the extra interview was pre-planned but would only happen if the other interviews went well. So while you can argue that it’s unfair to the candidate to add an interview with someone, especially the CEO, it’s a good thing. It means they like you. You can relax and enjoy this one, despite not having any unique time to prepare.

So you might say, to keep it simple, that a shorter job interview length is bad and longer is good. But that’s not really fair or accurate. But I would say it’s a potential indicator of how things are going. By adding your constant attention to the day, you can view and filter all these possibilities in real-time.

And, obviously, an invite back is the most obvious of the telling signs that you’ve been well received.

Other things that happen include being left out in the cold or forgotten during your interview day. It actually happened once to me.

Of course, there’s more than just job interview length. If you need more help for your upcoming job interview, continue reading Tim’s Strategy. It’s one of the most popular topics here.

Thanks Yeison Varón Velásquez for the photo via Flickr.

Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
Categories: Job Interview Tips

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