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I am currently a senior dev and data scientist within industry sector A. I have applied to a Data Science role (non-senior) within industry sector B.

This company has already required a Telephone Interview and a code project which I completed successfully. I have now been invited to interview, and they are very keen.

I have now found out that the interview is going to be over 2hrs 45mins being split into multiple "micro" interviews by separate interviewers on separate topics. Most of which have already been covered in part in the previous stages.

So far all my interviews have been for senior data science positions and been well under this time and formatted in a way where I feel my time is better valued and understood.

Do you think this interview process is reasonable, and additionally would this raise a red flag for you based upon their value of candidates time and energy?

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    In my experience, an interview of under 3 hours would be unusually short (I'm also in a computational field). – Nuclear Wang Feb 5 at 19:22
  • Do you have actual concerns about its length? I know for example I'd never hold a 3 hour meeting that didn't have a 15 minute break in there somewhere. Or are your concerns more about determining whether or not the company is engaging in standard practices? – corsiKa Feb 6 at 3:01
  • Google recruiting process often takes several months, with lots of interviews. Do you see their recruiting process as a red flag? If not, why do you think they do it like that? Could it be that the company you are joining have similar reasons? – Polygorial Feb 6 at 7:15
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    @undefined: That seems like a red flag (but the name Amazon also). – guest Feb 6 at 14:32
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    In my experience: Google 6h, Microsoft 7h, Uber 4h (+3d project), EA 4h twice. So, definitely not unusual. – Jeffrey Feb 6 at 15:43
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Do you think this interview process is reasonable, and additionally would this raise a red flag for you based upon their value of candidates time and energy?

I don't find it unreasonable (although it is a longer than usual duration). Each company is different and they surely have their valid reasons for having such a time and process.

This does not really trigger any red flags for me, it could be they are more rigorous than others in their recruitment process.

If you are uncomfortable with such interview time, feel free to politely turn down the opportunity and thank them for their time. If not, I suggest you go and take it.

When you are there you will get a better look-and-feel of the situation and will be able to better judge if this triggers any red flags then.

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    Wow, simultaneous and very similar answers! – dwizum Feb 5 at 18:57
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    @dwizum well, mine was 7 minutes before yours ;) ... but yes, seems we think of this alike, which strengthens the validity of the points we mentioned. – DarkCygnus Feb 5 at 19:01
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    At the company I used to work at, interviews for an external hire were often a half-day event for the candidate. It wasn't a bad place to work (I was there around 14 years!), they were just very particular about who they hired. It was a big company, so any position would have interaction with a lot of different people. They wanted to make sure it was a good fit for everybody involved. – Seth R Feb 5 at 19:05
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    Thank you for your comments - It's been great to see the continuity amongst those who answered. I feel reassured that this is okay, perhaps my expectations were incorrect. But I think this is actually an opportunity as someone else has stated as it'll give me a much better chance to meet potential colleagues and gauge a fit! Thanks for your help! – BArris Feb 5 at 21:08
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    @BArris I'm glad we could help :D yes, this seems like an opportunity window for you. Attend and if you don't like it then desist... but if it's a good fit then it will be a great thing for you – DarkCygnus Feb 5 at 21:14
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You asked,

Do you think this interview process is reasonable, and additionally would this raise a red flag for you based upon their value of candidates time and energy?

No, I don't think it's unreasonable. Although, it's pretty clear that "reasonable" is fairly subjective. If you think it's unreasonable, you can always decline the interview.

"Is this a red flag?" questions are highly speculative in nature, and similarly difficult to answer - doing so requires jumping to conclusions, which can put you at risk of misinterpreting something and making a decision that could cost you an opportunity. Instead of wondering if this interview process is a red flag, you could take it as an opportunity: A long interview that exposes you to more people at the prospective employer means you have more chances to evaluate your future team mates, and more chances to ask them questions about things you care about. It's like you get to poll a cross section of your future coworkers, which is a powerful opportunity.

With that in mind, if I had been informed of such an interview schedule, I would be sure to have a list of at least 2 or 3 questions about things I cared about, and I'd ask each "micro interview" team those questions. This can give you valuable insight into the company culture, what your day to day job will be like, and so on.

Ultimately, interviewing processes can vary considerably. I've worked for employers with very long interviews and very short interviews. Sometimes the reasons for the interview being long or short were good, other times they were bad. There was no real correlation between intent and interview length which would lead me to be careful about drawing conclusions about length being an indicator of a red flag. Employers have different reasons for their hiring practices, and as a candidate, it's very hard to guess at what those motivations are (sometimes it's hard to know why an employer uses a specific interview technique even when you're on the inside.).

So, personally, I try to forget guessing at if things are red flags, take a step back, and analyze the situation practically. Instead of guessing at why the employer is doing something in an interview, I try to look for opportunities to optimize whatever it is they're doing.

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    You've changed my thinking from potentially not going to actually going. Really enlightening comment and flipped my argument upside down - you're right. This is an opportunity! – BArris Feb 5 at 21:09
  • @BArris - interviewing processes can vary considerably. I've worked for employers with very long interviews and very short interviews. Sometimes the reasons for the interview being long or short were good, other times they were bad. There was no real correlation. Employers have different reasons for their practices, and it's very hard to guess at what those motivations are. So, I try to forget guessing, step back, and analyze the situation practically. Instead of guessing at why the employer is doing something, I try to look for opportunities to optimize whatever it is they're doing. – dwizum Feb 5 at 21:28
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    That's a good outlook to take and think I will adopt that attitude more going forwards - thanks! – BArris Feb 5 at 22:20
  • Glad it was helpful, I've edited that comment into my answer. – dwizum Feb 6 at 13:55
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This company has already required a Telephone Interview and a code project which I completed successfully. I have now been invited to interview, and they are very keen.

Great!

I have now found out that the interview is going to be over 2hrs 45mins being split into multiple "micro" interviews by separate interviewers on separate topics. Most of which have already been covered in part in the previous stages. Do you think this interview process is reasonable, and additionally would this raise a red flag for you based upon their value of candidates time and energy?

That is an unusually short interview cycle; I once had an interview cycle that was two full eight hour days.

You seem to think that they should be valuing your time and effort in making it out to the interview, but making good use of your time is the least important factor in the interview. The interviewers' time is far more valuable to the company than yours, of course, but that's also not relevant.

The relevant factor is: the company needs to make a decision on the basis of imperfect information about whether you will add or subtract value from the company. A bad hire doesn't just burn the salary they're paid; a bad hire drags down the productivity of the entire team, a bad hire gives other people bad information so they make bad decisions, and bad hires who become interviewers hire more bad people. A bad hire is an existential threat, particularly if the company is small.

By contrast, a good hire will not only deliver value multiple times their salary -- if you are not delivering value that is, say, 4x times what they're paying you, they should be hiring someone else -- but a good hire makes everyone else more productive too. Good hires are mentors, good hires support the mission of the team, and good hires attract more good hires.

If you had to make a hire/no hire decision today where the consequences of that decision were multiple millions of dollars of gained or lost revenue, and the success or failure of the team, would you want to make that decision with only 2 hours and 45 minutes of data? I wouldn't.

So far all my interviews have been for senior data science positions and been well under this time and formatted in a way where I feel my time is better valued and understood.

First, expect that as you gain experience and apply for more senior positions, the amount of scrutiny you receive during the process will get larger, not smaller.

Second, I'm not advocating that you let anyone walk all over you, but your focus on guarding your own time can be interpreted as a lack of understanding of the risks the company is taking on. Instead of focussing on whether the company is wasting your time in doing the due diligence to ensure a good hire, spend your time and effort on better understanding how you can prove to them that you're someone who can add value by solving their problems and working with others.

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    Interesting experience - was that interview process in the UK? You're right on the importance of their decision. That being said I've never heard of interview processes as long as what you've mentioned. That's pretty intense however perhaps my expectations are out of whack! – BArris Feb 5 at 21:12
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    The sixteen hour interview was an unusual situation. The company was considering opening a branch office where I would be the first employee, so there were extra expenses and risks. – Eric Lippert Feb 5 at 21:53
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Data scientist here. This is totally normal, in fact it’s a little bit on the short side. I’ve had sets of back to back interviews ranging from 3 hours to 6 hours. You’ll probably be working with a lot of different people and managers often want to get feedback from as many as possible before making a decision. Remember that interviews are a two way street and this also gives you the opportunity to hear multiple perspectives about your potential future job which you can use to make a more informed decision.

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    Meeting with lots of people has been my general experience. The manager often wants input from team members. – Barmar Feb 6 at 9:52
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Unusually long Interview time; is this a red flag?

This is actually a good thing. It shows that the company is serious about their candidates and want to make sure that they are hiring the best possible fit for the position. On your side, this is a great opportunity for extended interaction with this company, which should help you determine whether or not the company is a good fit for you. Make sure to ask as many questions as possible and get a good feel for this company and it's employees. If they extend you an offer, you should have more than enough information to make a good decision.

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I have now found out that the interview is going to be over 2hrs 45mins being split into multiple "micro" interviews by separate interviewers on separate topics. Most of which have already been covered in part in the previous stages.

The time taken in the interview is not necessarily a red flag. Some companies do this. By way of example, I interviewed for Microsoft a number of years ago and it was far longer than that.

If the interview process really does end up being extremely redundant with previous stages, that may indicate a disorganized hiring process (or it might indicate that they're trying to be thorough in verifying that they "got it right"). If you're concerned about that, you probably want to prepare questions that'll help you understand how management runs the organization. (Obviously, you don't want to ask something too obviously pointed or rude, but you can still come up with good questions to try to understand how the organization is managed). This is normal and expected; remember, you're interviewing them too. (I'd actually prefer that my candidates ask me good questions at the interview; if they don't think that the team, organization, or work would be a good fit for them I'd rather they didn't take the job because it'll likely cause problems for both of us later).

I know other answers have pointed this out, but it's quite expensive for companies to make a bad hire (typically tens of thousands of dollars or more for a senior-level role). That being the case, would you want to hire someone based only on talking to them for an hour?

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