Take the 2-minute tour ×
The Workplace Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for members of the workforce navigating the professional setting. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm currently employed but looking elsewhere as my current position is unstable. In this search, I've found a company that wanted a very long second interview (4+ hours) that must start early - obviously cutting out a big chunk of my work day because I also lose the time driving there and back. Taking off this time would mean that I basically couldn't do any other interview during that week as I wouldn't be able to make up the hours that I would need to.

Because of this time commitment to a position I wasn't highly interested in after the first interview, I passed. But, they just recently offered to give me a call to discuss the company and hopefully get a better impression, and then split the interviews up so I can make it significantly easier.

That all sounds well and good. However, I'm skeptical (or paranoid). This is sending up red flags for me. I'm in a major city that is a huge center for software development, and while I feel my resume is strong, I am at about 5 years of development experience - I have no illusions that I am a unique snowflake. Basically, I struggle to believe that my own skillset is why they're so flexible about making the interview process work, and committing that much time to a candidate that only passed a 1 hour technical phone screen.

Edit: To clarify, my concern is that I am surprised a company would be willing to adjust for a candidate that isn't at a senior level. I'm trying to figure out if this is either a good sign (because the company is flexible and understanding) or a bad sign (because the company is desperate for qualified employees, because of high turnover or other faults). Since I am relatively inexperienced, I'm looking to tap into the experience of more seasoned individuals to learn from their insight.

Is this really a red flag, or am I simply worrying too much?

share|improve this question
1  
How did the first interview go? Interviews are about getting to know the company as well as them getting to know you. Do you know more about the company and their goals than you did before the phone screening, or is it just as mysterious? Are they selling genuine imitation Gucci hand bags? Also, you should know that half-day interviews are not all that unusual, and some positions are difficult to fill for whatever reason (geographic location, etc.). –  Robert Harvey Apr 7 at 16:01
3  
Hey Junior, and welcome to The Workplace! Is there any chance you could address some of the concerns raised in the comments to make an edit and focus your question a little better? What makes you concerned this is a red flag? What makes you think this is a problem that needs solving? If you just want to bounce ideas off someone, The Workplace Chat may be a better place for that. Thanks in advance! –  jmac Apr 7 at 23:41
2  
Comments removed. Please use comments to clarify/improve the question. To answer the question, please post an answer. For extended discussion, please use The Workplace Chat. –  Jim Apr 8 at 12:48

4 Answers 4

up vote 33 down vote accepted

It sounds like there are two things that are good signs to me.

  1. They must think that your qualifications make it worth the extra effort for the chance to have you add you to their team.

  2. They are respectful of your time restraints and willing to adapt to your needs.

These are qualities that I find highly attractive in a prospective company. That does not mean that the company will continue after you are hired on, However, my experience is that companies that are not flexible and respectful in their on boarding process are also not flexible or respectful of your time in their day to day operations. For that reason these are positives to me.

I would also guess that they are having trouble finding the right candidate for this position. It could be that they are looking for a rare combination of skills/experience. I would guess that if this is the case, based on your resume they think you may have that combination or something that they can work with. It could also be that the reality of the position may not live up to the expectations of their prospects. But the only way to find out is to have the interview.

Presumably you were interested in the position at some point. If you still are I think there is little reason now not to at least try the first interview. You should be able to get a feel for the company from it and make a decision at least if you are interested in future interviews. In the end even if you go through all the interviews and get an offer that is not what you are looking for, or even just decide the position is not for you, there is little lost in proceeding with the interview if you are interested in making a change.

share|improve this answer
19  
It's also possible all the other candidates are also having trouble committing to a four-hour interview. –  Amy Blankenship Apr 7 at 16:40
2  
That is possible as well, though it is pretty common in the industry, but the best people are often employed and busy already so if you are only looking for the best that is a real possiblity. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Apr 7 at 16:48
12  
I once had to cancel on an 8 hour Saturday job interview due to a freak snow storm in October. I was driving out 3 of my friends too who happened to be interviewing for the same position, and 20 minutes into the 3 hour drive we had to turn around as my car was sliding on the highway. We called to let them know we couldn't make it and the hiring manager was furious. Come Monday, he refused to reschedule our interviews. That was probably for the best. –  zim2411 Apr 7 at 19:20
    
Thanks for the insight. I think you're probably right, but I think Amy makes a good point - I've had a few dozen interviews for similar positions in the same area, and it's the longest I've had so far in terms of total time commitment (due to their scheduling constraints, rather than total length of the actual interview). –  JuniorIncanter Apr 7 at 20:06
11  
+1 - I'd add, though, that splitting up a 4 hour interview probably isn't really bending over backwards. Generally, for half-day interviews, you're really having several hour-long interviews with different people. There is no benefit to the company in doing that all in one day. The only reason to structure that as a single 4-hour interview is to save the candidate the effort of driving to the office 4 separate times. Splitting the interview up into 4 separate meetings on 4 separate days is really a pretty minor accommodation for the company to make. –  Justin Cave Apr 7 at 20:15

Sounds to me like you're worrying too much. While the rest of the country may (or may not, depending on who you ask) be experiencing sluggish recovery and lingering unemployment and jobless rates, IT unemployment is extremely low or even negative (at least in my area), resulting in stiff competition for IT talent in most markets. You mention that your area is a hotbed of software development, so it seems to me that it's probably pretty likely that you're in a market where companies have to compete for development talent, rather than the other way around. So, with that in mind, I wouldn't see this a red flag (on its own), especially because this is certainly a situation that you don't have perfect information on.

They're definitely acting like they want to be as accommodating as possible to you, but that could be for many reasons, even independent of the competitive market for IT talent right now. Perhaps they're starting a new project, and need to hire engineers to deliver it. Perhaps someone important left recently, and they need to fill the opening. Perhaps you really blew them away on the phone interview, and they recognize your potential value. Or any number of other reasons that don't involve it being a bad place to work.

It's also very possible that you're experiencing the inverse relationship between knowledge and confidence that plagues a lot of intelligent, skilled individuals regarding your evaluation of your skillset.

Certainly, you should try to feel out the interviewers for why they're so accommodating, and maybe do some research on your own, like finding a developer or two that work there and taking them out for a meal (in exchange for information about the company), but this is good advice, regardless. Due your due diligence, but definitely don't let the fact that they're eager to accommodate you scare you off.

After all, what's the alternative? Working for someone who won't accommodate you during the interview process? That sounds like a serious red flag for a bad workplace. If they won't accommodate you while you're interviewing, what are the odds they'll be accommodating once you accept? Conversely, the fact that this company is accommodating to you now is a positive indication that they might be similarly accommodating to their employees, and not just their potential employees.

share|improve this answer
    
I think your counterpoint regarding the alternative is really a good point. Doing some independent research hasn't thrown any red flags so far, and it seems well-reviewed on glassdoor. –  JuniorIncanter Apr 7 at 20:08

If it's the sort of job that makes sense for you, you should perceive a four hour interview as something fun where you'll get to do all sorts of new, interesting and challenging things.

If you feel as though it would be a hassle, then why would you even consider the job in the first place? Do something you want to do instead.

share|improve this answer

Red Flag!!!!

A four hour interview sounds like you're going to be there actually fixing real world problems. It's one thing to sit through a panel, it's another to do a skills evaluation test, but I always draw the line when I go to an interview and I am asked to solve a problem that will create some benefit for the company whether I am hired or not. Basically, it's free consulting.

You might want to reel it in and get the company to commit to a specific agenda for those four hours -- delivered to you BEFORE you do any travelling, with ample time for review. If they start back-tracking, you'll know right away if what I'm suggesting is the case.

share|improve this answer
1  
I disagree with this answer. I have been in all-day interviews (including lunch interview!) and they were not "fix our problem", they were meeting my coworkers and managers of other groups that I'd interact with. And even if it was a 4-hour "programming" interview, if you're a programmer, that sounds like a great opportunity to show off your skills! –  Garrison Neely Apr 8 at 20:33
    
Nope, sorry Garrison. I'm a consultant. Unlike regular staff, I'm interviewing whenever a new project starts. I get paid for my time. Sitting on an all day interview pays ZIP. Giving away all the technical answers, without a contract upon which to base payment, pays ZIP. Time is money. I don't expect everyone to understand -- but that's why contractors make double what their salaried counterparts do. –  codenoire Apr 8 at 22:05
    
I definitely understand, codenoire, as I suspect that I had a similar situation happen. I spent a significant amount of time in a recent interview explaining how I would solve a problem, down to class implementation details, what technologies I would use, and why I wouldn't use specific alternative. Felt uncomfortable with it during the interview, but soldiered through. I understand why they asked it - it was the exact problem they had. But on the other hand... the amount of detail they expected was suspicious. –  JuniorIncanter Apr 9 at 15:21
1  
The issue would then be the content of the interview, not the duration. You are collapsing these two in your answer. –  Jan Doggen Jul 25 at 14:20

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.