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Written by Charlotte GraingerCharlotte Grainger

How long do interviews last? The insider guide

17 min read
How long do interviews last? The insider guide
You’ve made it past the first stage and you’re invited to an interview. But wait just a minute… How long do interviews last? Find out what you need to know in our guide.

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Yes, you got the call and the hiring manager uttered the words you’ve been longing to hear: “We’d like to invite you to meet the team in an interview!”

As excited as you are, there’s one burning question in your mind. How long do interviews last? If you’re stumped and want answers, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Resume.io, we have everything you need to supercharge your job search. In the following guide, we will cover: 

  • How long you can expect an interview to last—depending on its format
  • Expert-backed advice on preparing for your interview
  • How to create an interview plan to make the most of the time
  • Frequently asked questions about the length of job interviews

How long do interviews last?

First things first, let’s answer the central question here: How long do interviews ask? Okay, well, the answer depends on the type of interview. For example, a phone interview will typically be much shorter than a panel interview. That is because these interviews have a different format. 

If you’ve just been invited to attend a job interview, consider what type it is. To help you along the way, we have outlined some of the most common formats and how long each should take. 

Phone interviews 

Often the first port of call in the hiring process, phone interviews tend to be brief. The purpose of this type of interview is usually to verify everything that you have outlined on your resume. So, you might find that the recruiter, hiring manager, or HR rep gives you a quick phone call. 

As a general rule, this type of interview will last between 15 and 30 minutes. However, you should make sure that you don’t have anything lined up directly after the interview is scheduled. If things go well and the caller likes you, you might find yourself speaking for a while longer. 

Video interviews 

Video interviews are becoming more popular, especially since the pandemic. 60% of hiring managers or recruiters now use video technology as standard when hiring candidates. So, you shouldn’t be surprised if your first, or even second-stage, job interview is a video one. 

Often enough, these types of interviews take the same format as an in-person interview. For that reason, you should set aside a decent amount of time if you are invited to attend one. Of course, the main difference here is that you don’t have to commute to a specific location. Expect video interviews to last between 30 minutes and an hour. 

Additionally, you may find that the time-slot is specified when you get your invitation link. You may find that there is a clearly defined start and end time as part of this invite. If that is the case, take note of it. How long the interview is will give you a clue as to what it may entail. 

Expert tip

Don’t scrimp on the prep for video interviews!

Doing a job interview from the comfort of your own home is a luxury. But that doesn't mean that you get to forgo the standard interview preparation beforehand. Treat this interview just as you would any other. Make sure that you do your research and prepare some answers. 

Also, be sure to check your technology ahead of the interview start time. Make sure that your laptop, camera, and microphone are all in working order. You should also see whether you have to download specific software—such as an app—to use during the video interview. 

In-person interviews 

If you have been invited for an in-person interview, you may be wondering how long it will last. The answer is that it could be anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours. You absolutely can ask the hiring manager what the duration of the interview will be before you attend it. 

In fact, it may be worth trying to find out what the interview will look like. Since there are many different formats that an interview can take, the more you know about it, the better. You may be having a single-person interview, in which you are the only candidate in attendance. However, in some cases, hiring managers will interview a few candidates at a time. Finding out what the situation is before you attend the interview gives you the best chance of preparing for it. 

You can do this by being polite but direct. When responding to the hiring manager’s interview request, ask them how long the interview will be, if there is anything specific that you need to prepare in advance, and whether there’s anything else that you need to know. 

Contrary to popular belief, there’s nothing wrong with asking questions. Doing so shows not that you don’t have a clue what’s happening, but that you are eager to be prepared. You don’t have a crystal ball that will tell you exactly how the interview will play out, so go ahead and ask.  

Group interviews 

Let’s say that you find out it’s a group interview. As the name suggests, these interviews are where the hiring manager sees multiple candidates at the same time. The main purpose here is to see how you each work in a group environment and how you “bounce” off each other. 

We won’t beat around the bush—having to answer questions in front of your direct competition can be stressful. However, the best approach here is to forget that you are competing with them and try to work alongside them. The hiring manager will be looking for someone who is a good team player and can support the wider group. Seize the opportunity to showcase these skills. 

So, how long are interviews with multiple candidates? You may be surprised to learn that these interviews are often not much longer than a standard interview. In some cases, a group interview may be shorter than you expect, lasting around just one hour or so. Once again, there is no stigma attached to asking the hiring manager how long the interview will be in advance.

Competency-based interviews 

Competency-based interviews are more structured than a standard format. These interviews allow the hiring manager to test your skill-set first hand. Spoiler: There will be a test or activity.

If you are invited to this type of interview, it’s usual for the hiring manager to be clear about that. In the initial email or phone call, they may outline that there will be an activity as part of the process. This gives you the chance to do some practice at home before attending the interview. 

Most of the time, a competency-based interview will be a second or third stage of the hiring process. Chances are, you will have met the hiring manager or team before now. For that reason, these formats don’t leave a load of space for small talk. You can expect this type of interview to last between an hour and an hour and a half as a baseline. 

Expert tip

Practice really does make perfect

Preparing for a competency-based interview? Make sure you look up some activities and questions in advance. It’s likely that the hiring manager will use a standardized set of exercises to determine how well your skill-set meets the requirements of the role at hand. 

Search for the activities for your job vacancy online. You can use these to practice. Go through the stages of each exercise and work out the answers that you would likely give. You may also be able to find some exemplary answers, which will help you with your preparation.

Panel interviews 

Panel interviews have one distinct feature—there is more than one interviewer. Yes, rather than simply talking things through with the hiring manager, you will have to go up against a panel. This may comprise the hiring manager, another manager, and a team member, for example. When you get the invite, you could find that it includes the name of these interviewers. 

Often enough, these interviews will take the same amount of time as any other in-person interview. However, there is one major consideration that you can’t ignore here. Since you will be interviewed by multiple people, each one may want to have their own input. When that happens, it can mean that panel interviews run for longer than you would first expect. Unless told otherwise, set aside around one hour to two hours for this type of interview. 

Interviews last between 45 minutes to an hour
Interviews last between 45 minutes to an hour

How to use your interview time wisely: 5 tips 

Now that we’ve answered the question of “how long do job interviews last,” let’s talk about what you need to do with the time you have. 

While the timeframes we have given may sound long, they are not when you consider that you have to showcase your value within them. For that reason, it’s important that you do all you can to maximize the impact of your interview time. 

We’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at five strategies you can use when you’re in your next interview situation. Keep these tips in mind if you want to get ahead of the competition. 

1. Plan for your interview ahead of time 

When you first get an invitation for an interview, you need to start planning. You will have the basic information that you need: the date, time, and location. Use that to your advantage. Here are the things that you need to consider for your pre-interview plan: 

  • Getting to the interview. Before the interview takes place, plan how you will get to your destination and do a dry-run. It’s smart to go at roughly the same time of day as the travel conditions—e.g. the traffic—will be the same then. Understanding exactly how long it will take you to get there could make a world of difference.
  • Gather what you need in advance. Next, make sure you have everything else you need. Is there anything you need to plan for the interview? For example, in some cases, you will need to create a slideshow or presentation. Make sure you read the fine print and ensure that you have covered all bases before attending the interview.
  • Choose an outfit. “Dress to impress” is the mantra you should be using here. You need to ensure that your interview outfit sends the right message to the hiring manager. Consider the workplace culture when deciding what to wear. If you haven’t been given much guidance, it’s always smarter to go with a formal rather than a casual approach.
  • Check your tech. Finally, make sure that you have technology on your side. For example, if you are using Google Maps to reach your destination, be sure to fully charge your smartphone. Alternatively, if you are having a video interview, you need to ensure that every element of your home setup is in working order.

Ticking all of the above boxes matters more than you might imagine. It’s not merely about ensuring that nothing goes wrong on the big day. It also means that you will feel ready for the interview at hand. That means that you can show-up feeling cool, calm, and collected. 

2. Prepare for generic interview questions 

Next up, you guessed it, it’s time to do some interview preparation. Getting to grips with some of the most common interview questions ahead of time is the way to go. 

Knowing how you will answer each question means that you won’t be put on the spot and caught off guard. To kick things off, let’s take a look the interview questions you may be asked: 

Taking the time to consider your answers to these questions now will save you time later. When you are faced with one of the above, you won’t stutter or stumble over your words. Instead, you will have a rough outline of what you need to say in your head. 

3. Stick to the point when answering 

Don’t want to waste time during your job interview? Try to keep your answers concise and to the point. If you’re a big talker, you may fall into the trap of over-explaining things or even rambling off point. To stop you from doing that, you can use the tried and tested STAR technique

4. Always give evidence to your claims 

Time is of the essence. Make sure that every answer you deliver during the interview has real value. One of the best ways that you can do this is by giving evidence to each of your claims. For example, if you state that you “continually exceed sales targets,” be more specific. Tell the hiring manager how much you exceed the targets by and explain the impact you have had. 

5. Have a list of questions at the ready 

Toward the end of any of the above interviews, you can expect the same question. “Do you have any questions for us?” This is the point when the hiring manager passes the baton to you. 

It’s also your chance to ask any burning questions that you may have. Rather than sitting there and thinking them up on the spot, plan out your questions in advance. Having some well thought-out questions on the tip of your tongue shows that you are serious about the role. 

FAQs about how long interviews should be 

By this point, you should feel confident in knowing how long your interview will last. However, there may be a few gray areas left in your mind. Check out our frequently asked questions now: 

  • Are short interviews a good or bad sign? Try not to read into the length of your interview too much. As we have covered here, there are many different formats a job interview can take. You don’t know the reason for its length so don’t stress out.
  • How early should I be for a job interview? The early bird catches the worm. It’s smart to turn up to your job interview around 10-15 minutes early. This leeway will give you extra time should anything go wrong. It will also give you a chance to collect yourself.
  • Why is my final interview only 15 minutes? If you have a short and sweet final interview, don’t sweat it. Often enough, this is a chance for the hiring manager to make their final decision. If you’ve made it to this point, that is a good sign. Fingers crossed!

Key takeaways 

  • How long do interviews last? It depends on the format of the interview and how many people will be interviewing you on the day.
  • You can always ask the hiring manager for the exact timings of the interview in advance.
  • Don’t waste any time! Make sure you do your research and preparation in advance.
  • Avoid reading into the length of your interview. You don’t have the inside scoop on the hiring manager’s reasoning. Simply show up and give it everything you’ve got!
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