What you can tell from the length of your interview

What you can tell from the length of your interview

Remember those days in high school and university when you would walk out of an exam and immediately flip through your textbook to determine if you gave the right answers to those questions? As part of human nature, we always over analyze our performance in nerve-racking situations to ensure that we put our best foot forward. Job searching is no different.

Immediately after leaving a job interview, your first thoughts are most likely “How did I do?”, “Will they call me back?”, “Did I give the right answers?”, etc. In some cases you may be sure that you completely flunked the interview, and in other cases you will have a more positive outlook – however, most of the time you just don’t know.

A key indicator on how well your interview went is the time that you spent in the interview. Though you cannot use these rules to determine the success of every single interview accurately, it will still give you an idea in most scenarios.

We recently polled professionals on LinkedIn to find out how long they thought a good first interview should last. We’ve used the feedback and results to provide you with the following guidelines. 38 percent of professionals voted that a good first interview should last 45 minutes. We agree! If your first interview lasted about 45 minutes, that is generally a good sign that the employer was interested in bringing you on board. If your interview was longer or shorter, keep reading.

15 minutes or less

We don’t like to start on such a negative note, but if your interview lasted 15 minutes or less – it was probably a bad interview. They may have realized when you arrived for the interview that you did not meet the minimum qualifications for the role, and therefore they were not interested in wasting their time. Or, you may not have appeared as a good fit for their corporate culture based on your professional attire. First impressions are key, and something in yours told them that you weren’t the right person for the job.

30 minutes

If your interview was 30 minutes long, then it was just long enough. Hiring managers will generally schedule about 30 minutes to interview a candidate for most position levels. If you lasted the full 30 minutes, you know that you answered the questions well. However, from the amount of time alone, we cannot determine whether or not you will be called back for a second interview. It is up to you to review your answers to each question to judge whether or not you wow’d the interviewer.

45 minutes

45 is the golden number in the world of job interviews. Along with 38 per cent of the professionals we polled on LinkedIn, we agree that a good first interview should last about 45 minutes long. This means that you went slightly over the allotted time that the hiring manager had put aside, and that’s okay because you were answering the questions so well that they wanted to hear more.

1 hour

A 1 hour interview is a good sign for most career levels. Executive level professionals will find themselves in 1 hour interviews more often than all other levels of employees, due to the fact that the hiring manager will conduct a more in-depth interview for higher level candidates.

If during this 1 hour interview you were asked to meet with a secondary person, or complete some type of on-site proficiency testing, then you know that the hiring manager is seriously considering you for the role (or at least a second interview).

These timelines and rules will definitely change on a per-interview basis. There are other factors that will affect the length of the interview such as the level of position, the company’s hiring practices, and the hiring manager’s schedule for the day. At the end of it all, if you are confident in the answers you provided and feel that you left a great impression on the hiring manager, then you will likely receive a callback for the role.


If you don’t receive a callback for a role you felt you interviewed well for, you may need to improve your interviewing techniques. Get in touch with one of our career strategists to discuss the situation, and they will be happy to offer you some advice.

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Comments (3)

  • mikelking Reply

    How are the timelines affected by the more common power day of interviews that are common among the new tech companies? Meeting with 3 or more people for 30 minutes plus in a single day.

    August 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm
    • Nikki Reply

      Great Question! The timelines above still apply for each individual interview you have with each member of the hiring team. If you find that you are spending the full 30 minutes or more with each person, you can take that as a good sign.

      August 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm
  • Phil Burrow Reply

    Interesting but worthless! What are you going to do? Try to eek out your poor interview to reach the ‘Magic 45’? Time spent is a function of both your behaviour & that of the interviewer; one you CAN influence, the other you can’t. The established rules still apply therefore: prepare & know yourself well, focus on the question & make you answer concise. That way you’ll know that if you’re out in 20 mins it’s because you nailed it rather than took so long to answer the first question that the i/er decided to bail out!

    November 30, 2014 at 10:57 am

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