Interview Techniques for a Five-hour Long Interview
Half-day interviews are standard practice in higher education and technical fields that attract candidates from all over the country. A lengthy interview is less expensive than flying candidates back and forth for multiple interviews. Being invited to a five-hour interview signals that an employer sees you as a serious contender for a job.
Although some interviews are conducted remotely, employers usually like to meet finalists in person to see how they fit the company culture and relate to others. It’s normal to feel anxious about a marathon day of in-person interviews, but mastering a few interview techniques can help calm your nerves.
Landing a job in higher education is a long and arduous process that starts with submitting an online application and a detailed curriculum vitae. A university search committee evaluates the candidates for faculty and administrative positions and decides who looks good on paper. From there, phone screening interviews are conducted.
The University of Pennsylvania reports that out of 200 applicants, it typically selects up to 20 individuals for phone screening, and eventually invites three to five candidates to campus. Top candidates usually arrive on different days to meet separately with the search committee, academic dean, students, faculty in the department, and other members of the university community.
You can best prepare for these interviews by researching the school’s mission, values and strategic plan. If you're asked to give a lecture or presentation, engage your audience and invite questions. Be aware that your interpersonal skills may be assessed on the campus tour and during lunch.
Jobs that require high-level technical skills in fields such as engineering can last up to five hours. Employers want to be sure that they’re hiring the best person for the job because the stakes are high in a competitive marketplace. The interview is designed to test the skills the applicant claims to possess. According to Resume.com, a lengthy technical interview may require applicants to solve work-related problems on a whiteboard or pass a test of technical knowledge.
When responding to questions during a technical interview, remain calm and listen carefully; seek clarification if you’re uncertain of the instructions. Keep in mind that you’re also being evaluated on your disposition, stress tolerance, and ability to work as part of a team. Welcome any questions, smile, and make eye contact to show you’re an effective communicator, as well as a gifted scientist or IT specialist.
Some companies schedule a series of one-on-one meetings to allow the candidate to meet with people in key positions. Your day might start out meeting with the company president, followed by a one-hour meeting with the human resource director and then individual meetings or a luncheon with department heads.
Wisestep stresses the importance of consistency when answering questions because interviewers will likely get together afterward and compare notes. Telling different people different things sends up a red flag and brings your credibility into question. For example, if you like to tell the story about how you purchased a struggling small business and made it profitable, make sure your facts are straight when discussing timelines, strategies and earnings.
Interview techniques for handling all-day interview questions include mental and physical alertness. Get a good night’s sleep and eat a nutritious breakfast so that your stomach doesn’t growl during the interview. Wear interview clothes that won’t wrinkle as the day goes on. Stay positive and focused on the person you’re meeting instead of worrying about the next session.
Rehearse answers to behavioral-based questions that ask for examples of how you handle workplace conflicts, set priorities, manage your time and solve problems. Use breaks between meetings to hydrate. Grab a quick snack to pace yourself and keep your energy level high. Running out of steam at the end of the day won’t make a good impression. The Indeed Career Guide recommends having prepared questions to ask throughout the day or at the end of the interview to show you’re serious about the position.
Mary Dowd holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a master’s in counseling and student affairs from Minnesota State Mankato. Helping students succeed has been her passion while serving in many areas of student affairs and adjunct teaching. Currently she is a dean of students at a large, public university. Dr. Dpwd’s writing experience includes published research, training materials and hundreds of practical online articles.