So, you sailed through your first interview and have just received an email from the company inviting you to a 2-hour second interview. Congratulations! Making it through to the second round of interviews means that a company thinks that you’re potentially a good fit for the job.
A 2-hour interview, however, can be daunting. What should you expect and how can you best prepare for such an interview? Below, I provide an overview of what a 2-hour interview typically entails so that you can adequately prepare for this important event.
Is a 2-Hour Interview Normal?
While a first interview is typically around 30 to 45 minutes long, a second interview is normally longer and can last for two hours or longer. Second interviews are longer because you’re likely to be interviewed by multiple people, which may include HR staff, the hiring manager, some of your peers, and also senior staff.
A second interview is also longer because the interview questions are typically more intense and not as straightforward as those of the first round.
During the first round of interviews, an interviewer basically just wants to gauge whether you have the necessary qualifications, experience, and skills to do the job. The aim of the second interview is to find out more about your personality and whether you’d be a good fit for the relevant team and department.
Is a 2-Hour Interview a Good Sign?
Since a second interview means that a company is considering you for a position, a 2-hour interview is definitely a good sign. The fact that multiple members of staff, including executives, will be involved, and that they’re willing to set aside two hours of their busy day for your interview, means that they regard you as a promising candidate.
In the event that your first interview, which may have been scheduled for one hour, turns into a 2-hour interview, you can also consider this a positive sign. If an interviewer spends two hours talking with you, you can be sure that they’re interested in what you have to say.
How To Prepare for a 2-Hour Interview
So, what actually happens in a second interview? While this type of interview may differ depending on the company and the position you’re applying for, you can generally expect to be interviewed by multiple people during a second interview.
In general, you will need to demonstrate your enthusiasm and suitability for the position. Your interviewers will want to see that you are a good fit for the relevant team and for the company’s culture at large.
2-hour interview questions to expect can include questions like the following:
- What are your immediate and long-term career goals?
- What type of communication style do you have in the workplace?
- What value do you think you can add to the team?
- Which management style do you prefer?
The interviewer will also ask a few behavioral questions, such as “Tell me about a time you had to deal with conflict in the workplace.”
You should be aware that a 2-hour interview can take on various formats. Here are three formats that a second interview might take:
A Panel Interview
If multiple people need to interview you, a company may decide to do a panel interview. As the name indicates, a panel interview involves a panel of interviewers who are all interviewing you at the same time.
Panel members may consist of HR staff members, managers, and executives. Sometimes, a panel will also include peers who will work closely together with you should you get hired.
During such an interview, members of the panel will take turns asking you questions, while the rest of the group listens. Having to answer interview questions in such a setting can be nerve-wracking.
However, since the panel consists of multiple people with different personalities and points of view, you can also expect a more objective evaluation of your suitability for the position.
To ensure that you make the best of a panel interview, you should prepare. Here are a few pointers to remember:
- Learn the name and role of each panel member. If you’re scared that you will forget their names, write them down in a small notebook and take this as a backup with you to the interview.
- Do some research on each panel member, such as their areas of specialization and key accomplishments, since this added information can help you answer interview questions more eloquently.
- Print out enough copies of your resume so that you can provide each member of the panel with a copy. This rule also applies to any other documents you wish to show your interviewers.
- Think about how to conduct yourself during a panel interview. Remember, an interview is as much about how you say something as what you’re saying. Be sure to make eye contact with panel members when you answer their questions and try to, in general, give all members equal attention.
A Series of Interviews
Instead of using the panel-interview format, a hiring team can also decide on a series of one-on-one interviews with different members of staff. The reason a hiring team may opt for this format instead of a panel may be that panel interviews typically take up more of an individual’s time.
Executives, and other staff members, may not have the time to sit through a 2-hour panel interview. To make the interview process more manageable for interviewers, a hiring team may schedule short consecutive interviews during your 2-hour interview.
Although multiple shorter one-on-one interviews may seem less daunting than panel interviews, they come with their own set of challenges. This format can be more exhausting for the interviewee. Instead of getting acquainted with one interview setting, an interviewee must readjust their tone and approach to suit each individual interviewer.
If you’re invited to this type of meeting, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Keep your focus throughout the interviews. Since you’re having multiple interviews, you may be tempted to start relaxing after you’ve completed one or two interviews, especially if they went well. You need to approach each interview with full focus. Remember, one bad interview can cost you the job, even if the other interviews went well.
- If you are offered breaks, take them. You want to take a few breaks between interviews to clear your head and gather your thoughts. It can be mentally exhausting to participate in multiple interviews in the span of two hours, so give yourself a chance to reboot and refuel. Remain hydrated and eat small snacks to keep you energized.
- Adapt as best as you can to the style and personality of each interviewer. Remember, although they represent the same company, they are individuals with their own preferences and interview styles. If an interviewer has a casual approach, for instance, you can answer in a more conversational tone.
A Technical Assessment or an Aptitude Test
A 2-hour interview may also include a test of some sort. If you’re applying for a technical position, such as a software developer, you may be required to complete a technical test during your second interview. You may be asked to solve some coding problems, for instance, to demonstrate your knowledge of relevant programming languages.
You may also be asked to complete an aptitude test during your second interview. These types of tests determine an individual’s abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. You cannot fail an aptitude test and there are no right and wrong answers. Instead, they provide a hiring team with insights into how you may react in certain situations and what your communication style is.
Here are some tips to remember when you are preparing for a 2-hour technical interview:
- Brush up on all the relevant knowledge before a technical interview. Ensure that you’re clear on what the technical requirements are of the job and that you’re on top of the latest developments.
- Do a few internet searches if you’re not sure what format your technical test will be in or what type of questions they’ll ask. The web is bound to provide you with some valuable information and you’ll also find plenty of example questions.
Instead of a test, a hiring team may require that you do a presentation in front of a panel. The precise topic of the presentation will vary from interview to interview. In general, however, such a presentation is meant to showcase your abilities and your suitability for the position.
If you’re a marketing or sales professional, for instance, you may be required to do a presentation that showcases creative campaign ideas.
Here are a few tips to remember if you have to write a test or do a presentation during your 2-hour interview:
- Do proper research on the company if you’re presenting, whether it’s a campaign pitch or a marketing plan. Showing that you’re informed regarding the company’s objectives and values will make a good impression.
- Don’t rely too much on visual aids. While a few PowerPoint slides can be helpful when you want to show the panel charts or statistics, you don’t want to become side-tracked because of sound or other technical problems.