Frequently I will have an interview with a hiring manager that last only for 30 minutes. The person will say they want to discuss: my background, my work, my method of working, a discussion of the company and the role, and then they answer my questions if there's time. Then they begin by either giving a brief explanation of their background or a review of the company, or both.

Often, we seem to run out of time before getting to all the questions. 30 minutes might be too short of a time to get through it, but I didn't set it up.

Obviously, some good advice might be to keep it short and sweet, but I don't want the interviewing thinking I don't know what I'm talking about because I didn't give a more detailed explanation.

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure it's your responsibility to manage the time. Answer the questions and give all the information that's relevant. A good interviewer should manage the time, not the one being interviewed.

Having said that, there's nothing wrong with giving a shorter answer, and then asking "Does that make answer your question?" or "Does that make sense?" "Is that clear?"


I don't want the interviewing thinking I don't know what I'm talking about because I didn't give a more detailed explanation.

As with many situations, it's a balancing act. There's a difference between giving a sufficient explanation, and being too wordy.

You can answer briefly but fully, and then indicate that you'd be happy to expand on your answer if time permits.

Try to keep a feel for how much time remains (without resorting to looking at a watch), then use your time efficiently.


It sounds like you're getting ready for a behavioral interview (prompts like "Tell me about a time you worked with a team" or "tell me about your last project").

In preparing for behavioral interviews, take time to catalog and rehearse stories from past experiences that you think you'll want to share in response to questions. When I get ready for an interview, I write and re-write the 10-15 stories that I think I may want to share, structuring them and highlighting the moments that I want interviewers to hear and remember.

You may only ever share 5 of the 15 you prepare, but you'll be much more concise in your explanation and be confident you shared the important elements of the experience that showcase your capabilities best.

Best of luck, and enjoy the conversations as much as you can.

  • 1
    Good answer here... I was in a phone screen a few days ago and was asked "Tell me about a time you worked with a team." Since I have been an independent contractor without a team for ten years, I had to dig up a half baked story from fuzzy memory on the spot and I could tell immediately that I duffed it... I should have thought ahead and practiced a bit (If I actually wanted the job)... Im definitely going to incorporate this advice..+1
    – Smitty
    Commented Jun 4, 2019 at 17:18
  • 30 minutes is too short for a behavior interview, though, right?
    – user70848
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 3:13
  • 1
    I watching this online tutorial for managers about how to give interviews. The downloadable exercises are supposed to include some interview questions. Maybe I'll take a look and plan out answers, as you suggest.
    – user70848
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 3:14
  • I've been interviewed and have interviewed in formats with a 15-20min behavioral interview - 30mins isn't unusual and should be plenty of time to recount 1-2 of your past experiences while responding to the interviewer's questions.
    – Jay
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 11:34
  • @Jay I meant 30 min doesn’t seem long enough to discuss my answers and the job.
    – user70848
    Commented Jun 8, 2019 at 1:29

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