The Longest Job Interview
Job interviews come in all flavors and lengths. Some last not more than 30-minutes, others last an hour, which is common. But many IT, biotech and other larger firms, have the four to six hour interview to scope out candidates, to see if they fit into the culture, would be good as a team member and so on.
Usually, the candidate is in a room and every 30 minutes one interviewer rotates out and another one in to ask a slightly different set of questions to get a feel for you. In my experience, the first interviewer is the immediate lead or manager, followed by a person who actually does the job you applied for, then, a higher level manager of the department, then, still, another higher level manager until the department head or project manager is last. Each person provides you with a different understanding of what the job involves and most will always ask you situation questions to see how you would handle internal or external problems.
Sometimes, the set of questions asked are all very similar but just asked in a different way. The candidate begins to sound a "broken record" with the same redundant answers. But with each stage, the candidate should ask any questions thought of about the duties, the process, and anything else. When you have the chance to be the interviewer, do it. Sometimes, during an interview I will ask a question when the interview pauses, this throws him off and forces them to think about other things- a distraction. It also shows them you are thinking and interested in the job.
Some interviews have a panel of 3-4 interviewers. This is intimidating to the candidate. I prefer the one on one interviews by far. The panel interviewers each will ask a few questions and while you are trying to answer, all of them are staring at you. The panel types do not give the interviewers a realistic take on the person. There is too much tension in the room, Although, this interview is much quicker, rotating in different interviewers every 30 min allows for less tension and a more accurate snapshot of what the person may be like on the job.
Of course, interviewers always face the problem of which person to select. Usually, the person selected occurs when all of the interviewers agree who is the best fit, but that is not always accurate either. With the candidate on their best behavior and giving answers that are what the interviewers want to hear, in reality, the person may not be like he states. There is just no way to know 100% until a selection is made and the person is on the job. Then, there is usually a good month or so before the employer can really make an accurate assessment because of learning curves.
My longest interview has been four hours, however, I do some engineers that have had a six hour interview. These are common when the candidate has traveled far for the interview.