Looking for any advice for an all day interview.  The situation is a little unique in my experience, though I'm sure some of you have been through something like it.

I am flying up shortly to a final interview to be Engineering Director of a 500 person company producing high speed packaging equipment.  I've made it through phone and Skype interviews with a recruiter (who headhunted me) and a phone interview with HR and my future boss.  They are now bringing me and my wife up for a final interview.  My wife will be scouting the city (we've never been there) while I'm meeting with the company from 9 to 4.

I have not been given an agenda, but I expect to be meeting with VP of Engineering, President, and the HR Director at a minimum.  There will be some sort of assessment testing, but I don't know what form it will be.  I also assume that I will be meeting with engineers, and engineering managers, production staff, and others.  I don't have the impression that it will be a series of formal interviews.  I think it is a combination interview, skill evaluation, and get to know you day.

  • How do you approach an interview of this length?  
  • What do you do to keep your energy up through such a long day?
  • How do you carry yourself when it gets a little informal, or at lunch?  
  • We set the interview up last week.  They have not offered an agenda.  Should I request one at this point?

I have 1000 questions to ask them.  I'm a technical guy so I like to dive into details, sometimes too far.  I need to know a lot about the structure to see if I can work within it.  I don't want to overdo it, but in my experience my enthusiasm about the work usually wins people over.

Thanks for any input.

lisas2's picture

there's a podcast about lunches - gist is, remember you are always "on" during interview day - if it was me and I was lunching with potential peers (rather than execs) I might ask about the area, places to live, schools, recreation etc - get to know you things that I wouldn't ask a potential boss. I'd only ask about corporate culture if it came up naturally (e.g. someone mentions the softball team) otherwise I'd just observe observe observe. Always remember  that you are always interviewing even at lunch or walking down the hall. 

BariTony's picture

I've done quite a few all day interviews in my time. It's pretty much standard in some industries.

First, the interviews WILL be formal interviews all day long. If they're doing it right, you will spend about an hour meeting one on one with each of the key people. Do your homework and research them. If they have their act together, they will be using a behavioral interviewing style. They may ask the same questions and compare notes after you leave. There's a podcast for preparing for behavioral interviews. If they don't have their act together, you'll be in a group interview setting and the interviews will be more conversational. This is more difficult on your part. In my experience, if they are allowed to do most of the talking and wander aimlessly from topic to topic, the company may very well come back with "you did not demonstrate X." Even if they never asked you about "X", and it wasn't in the job description! Make sure you research the position and listen to the podcasts about group interviews, interviewing, and DISC. There is some specific guidance about how to handle interviews with different personality types.

It will not get informal. The people you meet with will, but you shouldn't. If it's a technical position, they might even show up in jeans and take you out to a Mexican place with lots of messy food for lunch. But remember that it's not your job to eat. It's your job to be interviewed, so you may leave hungry.

I usually eat a big breakfast on these days. I don't worry about eating lunch - I usually don't get the chance because I'm usually talking most of the time. make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before. Yawning at the end of a long day wil show "lack of enthusiasm". Remember - caffeine is a diuretic. Avoid it if at all possible. Take small sips of water through the day to keep your throat moist, but not so much you have to use the bathroom after you talk to everyone.

Study DISC. They are also trying to see if you'll fit in with their culture, and, more importantly, if the people you meet with are going to like you.

Personally, I think it's appropriate to ask for an agenda through the recruiter at this point. (I wouldn't ask the company directly.) If you don't get one, do your homework and plan on being flexible.

Lastly, since you're in the technical field, will you be giving a presentation? You didn't say if you were, but time management is crucial. Make sure your presentation is timed and you leave time for Q&A. They might ignore this and interrupt you with questions during your time anyways. That's fine. Just answer them and move on. If you go over, it'll be treated as your fault, even if they constantly interrupted you during your presentation. So, you need to have a close that takes no more than 60 seconds to deliver prepared in advance that you can use to bring your presentation to an end on short notice.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.


csol's picture

 This interview turned out to be very casual.  I was immensely overprepared, but better that than the alternative.  They had made their minds up and wanted to get some time with me to make sure of the fit.  

One point that others may consider: I kept expecting more of an agenda from them during the day, but one never came.  Late in the day I realized that I could be directing things for my benefit, but didn't have much time left.

Following this interview I was sent to Germany for a final interview.  That was much more of the all day interview that baritony describes, and much more formal, as you would expect in Germany.  It included meetings with high level HR, a member of the executive board, and my potential peers in engineering there.  I was so well prepared already that it was not difficult and really pretty fun.

In the end I got the job.  I signed the offer yesterday and will be moving in a month.  It's going to be great.







thebeezer's picture
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 Glad to see your hard work paid off.