It’s only natural to wonder how long job interviews last, and if the length of time indicates a good or bad outcome. In fact, it’s one of the most common questions job-seekers ask about the interview process!
This guide will go over how long interviews last and how you can use this information to prepare more effectively.
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How Long Do Interviews Last?
Interviews are a necessary part of pretty much any hiring process. They allow hiring managers to learn more about applicants beyond what they see on a resume. For you, it’s an opportunity to impress, leave a lasting impact, and increase your chances of getting a job offer.
So how long do interviews last?
Generally, the average length of an interview is between 30 minutes to an hour. However, that’s a rough average. The truth is that job interviews can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as several hours!
The interview process is complex, and there’s no fixed rule for how long they last. Every organization is different. Some will dedicate a significant amount of time to every candidate, putting you through several rounds of interviews to narrow down their choices and find the perfect hire.
Others have a more holistic approach, allowing interviewers to play things by ear. While 30 minutes to an hour is the average, it depends on the situation.
Contrary to popular belief, the length of an interview doesn’t indicate a positive or negative outcome (at least as a general rule). Just because a discussion ends sooner than you anticipated doesn’t mean that you’ve made a lousy impression, and one that runs long doesn’t indicate that you did well. How long an interview lasts depends on the specific hiring situation you’re in.
Breakdown By Interview Type
Job interviews are more involved and complex than ever before, and companies are doing more than single in-person interviews to find the right candidate. One way you can get an idea of how long an interview will last is to think about the type of interview you’re doing.
Phone interviewers are common, and organizations use them in several ways.
Usually, phone interviews are the first real-time communication you have with a recruiter or human resources specialist. You may receive an invitation to schedule one of these interviews through email. In most cases, they’re more of a pre-screen discussion rather than a full-fledged interview.
With pre-screen interviews, recruiters will ask basic phone interview questions about your resume, work history, qualifications, etc. The point of this call is to see if you have what it takes to move on to the next round of interviews. Recruiters often speak to a large pool of candidates, narrowing things down further before involving the hiring manager and interviewer.
The conversation might be straightforward, but it still takes considerable time. Initial phone interviews often last 15 to 30 minutes. Generally, the questions are more scripted. Most people consider these initial pre-screen interviews to be much less stressful than later parts of the hiring process.
Sometimes, recruiters also use phone interviews to ask questions to determine if you would fit in with the company culture. This might occur alongside the basic resume questions or as a separate call. Either way, those interviews tend to last a little longer.
You might hear questions about how you manage your schedule, if you work well as part of a team, how you manage stress, and more. Your responses to these questions are more nuanced and require more thought.
As a result, phone interviews involving company culture or position-based questions tend to last longer. Expect these interviews to last anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes.
In-person job interviews often come after phone pre-screens. You may speak to a dedicated interviewer, a member of the human resources team, or the hiring manager directly.
On average, this kind of interview is between 45 and 90 minutes long. Some will only take around 30 minutes, but others can take several hours. Once again, it all depends on the company’s hiring processes.
Some organizations will push applicants through because interviewers will have a full schedule of people to meet. Others want to see you in action, turning a short interview into a multi-hour demonstration of your skills.
If you’re interviewing for a mid or high-level position, expect the interview to be a bit longer than the standard 45 minutes. Hard-to-fill jobs involve more complex hiring processes. Not only do you need more qualifications, but companies want to ensure you’re the right fit for the company culture, organization’s mission statement, and more.
Those positions can be difficult to land and ultimately significantly impact the company’s success. As a result, hiring managers spend more time ensuring applicants are just right before extending a job offer.
Another thing to think about is the number of in-person interviews you attend. Beyond the phone pre-screen, some companies will have several interview rounds. One might involve logistical information and discussions about your basic qualifications.
Then, you may have to meet several people and have long conversations with multiple decision-makers in the organization. Again, it all depends on how the company does things. While not always the case, interviews tend to last a lot longer the deeper you get into the hiring process.
Video interviews can take the place of either phone interviews or in-person interviews.
To gauge how long your video interview will last, consider whether it is a screening-type call or a replacement for an in-person interview. They will last about the same amount of time as either the phone or in-person inteview.
When preparing for your video interview, be sure you test the video software and are familiar with the basic functions (camera settings, speaker, chat and possibly screen sharing).
When participating in a video interview, it’s important that your lighting is bright and coming from in front of you and that your background is uncluttered and ideally not your bedroom.
Here are more tips to help you prepare for your upcoming video interview.
Group interviews are a unique approach companies take to learning about candidates. While they may seem unorthodox at first, more and more companies are choosing to do them. That’s because they provide great insight into how individuals interact with others.
There are two types of group interviews. In one, you may join several other candidates during a group interview as you meet with a hiring manager or human resources specialist. In the other, you may be the only candidate interviewing with a panel of interviewers. Group interviews are usually panel-style conversations, and questions encourage everyone in the room to have an open discussion.
Companies that rely heavily on smooth-running teams often use group interviews to test communication skills, teamwork, and more.
Because so many people are involved, these job interviews usually last at least an hour. Many will go beyond that, and some will last longer than anticipated. Interviewers will try to keep the conversation on track, but it’s not uncommon for these meetings to run a little long.
Technical interviews aren’t standard for all positions. However, they are common in fields that require a specific set of skills or competencies. For example, you often see these interviews in engineering, software development, jobs revolving around information technology, and more.
You’ll likely have to show off your skills when you come in for a technical interview. Companies can ask you to demonstrate your skills in many ways.
Some organizations may request that you perform several tasks in a real-world working environment. You might have to run through a list of operations and get graded on your work.
Organizations may also have you complete a technical questionnaire. Essentially, it’s a test on relevant topics. It can be written or digital. Either way, those “interviews” resemble standardized testing more than traditional discussions with a hiring manager.
Technical interviews are highly personalized to the company, so you never know what to expect until you get an invitation. That said, you should plan to be there for at least an hour. These demonstrative meetings can last longer, but you’ll often get more information about what will occur before you come in.
Effective Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Time
Whether your interview is a short conversation or an hours-long affair, making a positive impression is the ultimate priority. No matter how long your job interview ends up being, you only have so much time to let interviewers know why you deserve this job.
While you might go through many rounds of interviews as you navigate the hiring process, every conversation you have should leave a lasting impact.
Follow these tips to make an impact and put your time to good use.
Do Your Due Diligence
Always prepare for interviews by researching the company and position. Never go into one of these meetings not knowing everything you can about the organization. You should know what the business does, what hiring managers are looking for, and a bit about the company’s history.
You can sprinkle the information you learn in through your discussion. Doing so shows that you’re well-prepared and serious about getting this job, no matter how long your interview is.
Practice Common Interview Questions
There are many different kinds of questions you can hear during your interview. Some are straightforward, but others require great thought. Don’t let yourself get caught off guard!
Practice answering common questions with a friend. Don’t be tethered to scripted responses memorized verbatim, but have a general idea of what points you want to make. Practice makes perfect, and getting comfortable answering questions ensures that you feel and sound confident.
Prepare Questions for the Interviewer
No matter how long your interview lasts, it always pays to have some questions ready to ask the interviewer. There’s a good chance you’ll run into things you want to know about the organization, so don’t be afraid to ask them.
Asking questions shows that you’re serious, motivated, and eager to learn more. More importantly, those queries can open doors to deeper discussions about your qualifications and what you have to offer. Even having some questions to ask at the end of an interview can be incredibly helpful.
Stay on Track
You don’t know exactly how long your interview will last (even if you have a general idea), so keep your conversation laser-focused on the job you’re trying to land. When you’re in a meeting, it’s easy to veer off course and start rambling about unrelated topics. Avoid this trap!
Always steer things back to why you’re the right choice for the open position. Lean on what you can bring to the table and why you’re the ideal hire, or at least meet the requirements they are looking for.
Have an Interview Plan
Finally, always have a general interview plan to help you navigate the whole process. Know when you have to leave, how you’ll get to the interview location, and how much time you’ll need to remain calm and collected. Create a routine that involves gathering necessary materials, setting up your Internet connection for remote interviews, and anything else you might need to accomplish.
This whole process can be intimidating enough. Having a plan keeps you in the zone and helps you calm your nerves before the interview.
Knowing how long job interviews last isn’t an exact science, but you should be able to get a general idea based on your situation. This can be helpful for preparation or simply scheduling a conversation with a hiring manager.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.