(Job) Interview 102: Time and Group vs One-on-One

Taking the next step from this thread:
Interview 101

How long has your job interview(s) taken?

What was accomplished in the interview?

Just wondering… I had an interview with 5 people at a company the other day (5 seperate meetings) and it took 3 hours, not counting the 15-20 minutes to fill out the application on top of the resume’ I already sent.

By the time I was done I was well informed of the place and the products they make, but think that a 1-2 hour interview would have been more of a wise choice with everyone in the room as I spent most of the time in my seperate interviews repeating things from the others.

Although, on the plus side I was able to get a feel for the people as individuals and not so much in the team environment setting. I guess that is a plus depending on how you look at it.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have much shorter job interviews.

For one of my jobs, the interview is basically an application, and a 5 minute question and answer thing.

For the research position I applied for, the work was more extensive. I was asked to submit a preliminary background paper and research plan, and although we had already discussed this position, the discussion process was formal to prepare me for future interview processes. I enjoyed it though.

My interview was similar to yours Elgin. I was interviewed by 3 different managers. Most of the questions were the same. However, each person specialized in their own discipline. After interviewing they sent me home and then debated amongst themselves about whether I was qualified and would be a good fit in the company. Luckilly, I was.

My interview lasted around 3 hours. I talked with 4 different people throughout the course of the interview. The first part of the interview was with two people. Then I was passed off to someone else who passed me off to another person after interviewing me. Many of the questions asked were very similar because of the resume, but there were quite a few that differed depending on what the role of the person was (i.e., team lead, group manager, etc.)

One strategy of multiple interviews rather than a group interview might be that to see how you interact with each person. You might give off a good vibe to one person and not to another. (That’s just a theory of mine.) Since I was being considered for two different positions, the interviewers were able to get together and discuss which position I should be in based on these various perceptions.

An individual interview also allows you to get more personal than a group interview would, and vice versa since you can gauge the reaction better. I found myself talking about my Senior Design class differently with the first two people than I did with the last person.

As for what was accomplished, by the end of my interview, I had been shown the possible labs I would be working in and where my “office” (read: large cubicle) would be if I got the job. I had also been given a salary range that they were thinking of (the topic of which had been brought up by one of the interviewers). And, most importantly, the people interviewing me had an idea of where they thought I would fit in to the company.

And, although it may have been foolish, that was my first and only interview. I accepted the job offer.


I’ll take the opposite side of this and mention that I am a key recruiter for new college hires at Harris. We run interviews similar to the way Elgin mentioned it… 5 interviews, entrance & exit with HR (including filling out paperwork) a video of rochester, an overview of our products, and lunch and the previous nights dinner with recent college hires.

The reason for the 5 separate interviews is because we use the STAR methodology. The closest thing I could find quickly on the internet was this paper .

Basically each interviewer is looking for different aspects of nearly 10 different criteria. We get together at the end and compare, and discuss the candidate overall.

My most recent interview lasted a bit more than an hour and I met individually with upper management in the two departments that would be overseeing my work. One of them, tasked with our account management, focused heavily on my interpersonal and customer service skills while the second, in charge of our technical fulfillment department, asked primarily about my technical skills. This was for a temporary position as a contractor with the company.

Later, I had a third interview – but that was a fake interview that was necessary so they could offer me a full-time position.

It is common to have multiple interviewers with similar questions to see if you stay consistent throughout the day. If someone is making up their experience, it will show up in realy varied answers throughout the day.

Another other reason is that some personalities do not mix. By having a mix of interviewers, often a company can find a great fit for a talented person that might not have received any interestfrom just one interviewer.

And, each manager is looking for something different, and even with the same questions, the relevance of you answer to a particilar position will vary with each person.