Tips for all-day interview
July 14, 2019 5:41 PM   Subscribe

The good news is I got called back for a second interview. The scary-to-me news is it will last ALL DAY. Can you give me advice on this type of interview? It's for an administrative position in a large organization and I will be meeting with various groups having somewhat competing interests. I also need advice on negotiating the salary if they offer it to me. If you can give me examples of specific things to say, that would be super. Ugh, god, the anxiety.
posted by HotToddy to Work & Money (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Don’t verbally accept or reject anything said that day if you can manage. Defer with ‘I will consider that, thanks!’ Or similar as needed. Your position is stronger when you’ve reflected upon what you want/need/demand after the fact.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:52 PM on July 14, 2019 [6 favorites]

Take every single bathroom break you can, even if you don't need to go. Use that time to collect yourself. I just did an all-day interview recently (different type of job) and even though it was somewhat laid-back group of people, it's still a lot. Recharge every chance you get.
posted by acidnova at 6:30 PM on July 14, 2019 [18 favorites]

Remember you are still being interviewed when they take you to lunch! Be sure to be a pleasant, upbeat and engaged lunch companion.
posted by monotreme at 7:58 PM on July 14, 2019 [14 favorites]

I had one of these recently and was surprised to discover I was just meeting different groups of people who asked similar questions about the person I knew best - me! Not nearly as scary as I had made it out to be in my mind.

And, good news - if they’re spending a day of people resources on you, you’re already a strong contender. They wouldn’t allocate this much time to a maybe.

Because it is a large organization, the all day affair could very well have happened this way due to scheduling. You’re meeting with lots of different groups of people, yes. But they will likely want to know similar things about YOU. I think I repeated my background/education/why this place 8 times that day!

As always, use this day as your opportunity to ask questions. When you say “competing”, how is the vibe when you’re there? Is there a lot of unprofessional chatter (trash talk) about other groups and how unreasonable they’re being?

You’re gathering information on a potential future workspace. Day of: if it seems like a shit show, it probably is.
posted by nathaole at 8:26 PM on July 14, 2019 [4 favorites]

Ooh, last year I did a ton of all-day interviews, and last week I interviewed someone during their all-day interview so I have some tips!

1. Try to get the schedule in advance. (If they don't give you a schedule, this is a bad sign.) See if you can look up a little info about the people who will be interviewing you. It's fair to ask what the questions will be about so you can prepare. If you are given no information then again this is a bad sign.

2. Keep your energy up. Bring coffee if you are a coffee drinker. As said above take every bathroom break. If it's possible for you to take a quick walk outside, do that (I know it's not possible everywhere but it made a big difference for me).

3. Write a scripted spiel of who you are and why you are applying for this job. Practice it a ton. Repeat it to every person you speak with, and do it with enough energy that you don't sound like a robot. Even though to you this will feel stilted and fake, the people interviewing you at 1 p.m. have never met you and if you don't sell yourself/explain who you are to them, they won't have the info they need to make a decision.

4. Wear comfortable clothes that you can sit all day in.

5. Yes, the lunch is also an interview. Have a few work and (appropriate) non-work topics prepared to ask about, and talk about.

6. Questions, questions! If you have been able to research the people beforehand, have some questions prepared for each interview block. Many interviewers really pay attention to your questions to gauge your interest and engagement with the career field and the specific company.

7. You can totally have notes/a notebook. If you take notes that's a good sign (in my book at least!)

8. Save salary negotiation for later. You shouldn't need to say a word about the offer except for "I'll think it over." If a company pressures you to decide on the spot, again, red flag.

posted by rogerroger at 9:10 PM on July 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

The key to managing an all-day interview is staying comfortable so physical discomfort isn't getting in the way of you presenting your best self. This means:

- Wear clothes and shoes you are comfortable in. No matter how good it looks in the mirror, clothes you have to (or feel like you have to) constantly adjust, and shoes that are painful, make you look and feel unconfident.

- Similarly, if you're inclined to fidget with your jewelry, don't wear that jewelry. Again, it makes you look and feel less confident than you want to look and feel. I specifically don't wear a necklace, bracelet, or dangly earrings to interviews because if I do, I will fidget with them.

- Don't be shy about accepting offers of water or coffee etc. when you arrive and throughout the process. Same for offers to take a bathroom break between interviews. Also don't be shy about asking if you need to take a bathroom break or get another beverage even if it isn't offered. Unless the place is very formal (law firm etc.), it's probably fine for you to bring in your own water bottle or coffee mug.

- If you have a scheduled break between interviews, use it! Go to the bathroom, get a refill, walk around a little, write down notes and questions you didn't get a chance to earlier.

Preparation is also key: No matter what kind of interview it is, you should be prepared with questions. It reflects well on you and your genuine interest in the role, and also means you're not floundering when you're asked what questions you have. For long, multi-interviewer ones, it's really helpful to have a question you ask everyone so you can compare their answers (something like, Where do you see the company in 5 years? or What's your favorite thing about working here?) plus one that's tailored either to the individual doing the interview or the topic of the interview, if you know each one will have a different topic. This may require a little LinkedIn research beforehand. Of course, follow-up questions from things that come up during each interview itself are also great.

And yes, +100 to the person who said to remember that lunch is still an interview. Be present, be engaged, and don't let the casual nature of lunch trick you into into slipping out of presenting-your-best-self mode. This is a good opportunity to have polite personal questions prepared, like What do you do on the weekends?

It is very unlikely you will get an offer on the spot, that's not generally how these things work. It is possible your recruiter person will want to have a conversation at the end of your day to gauge your interest as well as any concerns you might have. I've seen candidates get caught off-guard by this before, so don't be surprised it if it happens. Even though this is more about the recruiter finding out what they need to do to sell you on working there, it's also still part of the interview. So be honest, but remain engaged and positive. If salary comes up at all on interview day, this is the likely place. They may ask you what you were making previously, and/or your salary expectations for this role.

Finally, never forget that you're interviewing them as much as they're interviewing you.

Good luck!!
posted by rhiannonstone at 10:30 PM on July 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

This could mean just having the same interview with different people. I would also recommend avoiding making any decision on salary. I said I needed to run everything by my spouse and always take at least a day to make any important decisions.
posted by xammerboy at 10:47 PM on July 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

I would bring a little baggie of nuts or something in my bag, in case the timing of lunch and/or availability of snacks doesn't match up with your hunger and/or energy levels. You can always eat a few quickly during a bathroom break if need be. (Be sure to check your teeth before leaving the bathroom though!)

Related: When I've done all day interviews I've also brought a travel toothbrush/toothpaste kit (like you get on a plane) to be able to quickly brush my teeth/freshen my breath after lunch. It leaves me feeling better prepared for the afternoon interviews.
posted by unlaced at 12:55 AM on July 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

Don't drink too much coffee if you're prone to do so--pace yourself. Google the living hell out of the company and the field so you can ask good questions.
posted by 8603 at 4:26 AM on July 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

The big thing I regretted not having at one of my full-day interviews was a bit of floss. I also could have used some Tylonel about halfway through the day!

Good luck; you'll be great.
posted by sockermom at 5:00 AM on July 15, 2019

All of these are good suggestions, especially the one about remembering that lunch is still part of the interview. Also, and I know this is not my personal strong suit so YMMV, try to remember a few names to use. It might be a blur meeting that many people in a row, and the people will know it. So, if you are able to remember and use a few names you will look extra engaged and put together.

You can do this!
posted by past unusual at 6:25 AM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Regarding lunch, as the center of attention you'll always be either listening or talking. Order with that in mind, e.g., stuff that's easy to eat and unlikely to spill. My go-to at a nice place was scallops: discrete bites, no carving required, soft and easy to chew, neither the least nor most expensive thing on the menu. Have a few choices lined up so you can respond quickly if it turns out the place is sold out of your preference. If you're given a schedule ahead of time that specifies the restaurant, look up the menu online. Don't talk with your mouth full, obviously, but in your eagerness to answer a question posed while you're chewing, it's tempting to do it anyway while concealing your mouth with a hand. Resist.
posted by carmicha at 8:00 AM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

If they don't give you the schedule in advance (and some places don't, it's not necessarily a red flag or sign of disorganization), and even if they do, there will be an orientation at the start of the day when you will get that schedule. That would be a great time to ask the big picture questions - who the position reports to, how the responsibilities divide, if you had names in advance, this is where you confirm what you learned. "I see you've got me meeting with Group A and then Group B, and then Mr Jones - he's group A tech lead, right? Ok, just to confirm, do you see this as a 50/50 split in responsibility between A and B or is there one group the position reports to more directly?" Or if you didn't have names in advance, it's perfectly ok to go over the list with them and ask questions; in my opinion it's a good thing to have relevant questions. "You've got me meeting as a panel interview with Anne, Raymond and Joe - are they a team, or reps from several teams?" "It would be great to talk to a variety of people, can you point out on this list someone who's been here longer than 10 years and someone who's relatively new?"
posted by aimedwander at 8:15 AM on July 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Eat breakfast before you leave. If you smoke, vape or do a nicotine patch for the day. Wear something that doesn’t wrinkle easily — no silk or linen. Starch cotton shirts. Ideally be layered with a jacket or sweater you can remove; this allows you to adjust to the temperature there. Don’t bring a coat/umbrella/laptop that requires its own bag. It’s awkward to haul these between meeting rooms and find a place for them to sit.

If you’re in the same room all day, police your space: don’t let water bottles, etc. pile up. Stay hydrated throughout the day. Stretch between interviews.

Don’t order soup, salad, spicy/pungent foods, or anything oversized/messy. Don’t begin eating until your companions do. Finish when they finish, even if you’re not done. Take lunch as an opportunity to learn about the people there — asking questions can take the focus off of you for a bit. Take breath mints and a strips.

Check off people on your itinerary as you meet them (so you don’t send a thank-you to someone you didn’t actually meet). Similarly, jot down some specific thing about each person so you can personalize those thank-you notes.

Keep your energy up! It’s common to come off as less enthusiastic at the end of the day. Bring caffeine pills in a crunch — try them beforehand to see how you react. Strong mints can be a good pick-me-up.

Also bring whatever works for you for headaches and allergies jic.

Best of luck at your interview!
posted by Kalatraz at 10:46 AM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

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