I received a call from a job I applied for saying they would like to meet with me. The position is help desk. They mentioned a verbal interview of 1 hour followed by a written test for 30 minutes. An hour long verbal interview by itself it pretty long, why would someone want to do this? What could the test be about? I plan on calling them back, what questions should I ask? Is this normal, I've never had an interview planned out for a specific amount of time, but normally they are shorter than 30 minutes.

To me this is a potential sign of bureaucracy. To the people who comment an hour interview is normal I'm interested in an explanation. Please elaborate. If you consider it you don't normally have an hour long conversation with anybody. At least not on where you're talking majority of the time. I know some meetings last well over an hour, but unless your the presenter you wouldn't be talking for a large portion. Also it's not culture around here to have coffee and lunch for an "interview", that would be called lunch.

I think people are misunderstanding the question. I never ask for opinions on what the average length of interviews are. What I am saying is I've never done an interview an hour or longer and what to expect from it. I do find it worrisome to be given a test that is 30 minutes long and not knowing what to study for it.

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    This isn't enough for a complete answer, so I'll add it as a comment. An hour isn't that long. Most interviews include the time for settling down, tea/coffee etc in this hour. You might also get multiple interviewers, each only interviewing for 10-15 minutes. Mar 26, 2014 at 19:48
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    I don't think I have ever had an interview that lasted less than an hour. Not unless it was clear that I was not a good fit for that particular job. Some interviews in some professions can last all day.
    – HLGEM
    Mar 26, 2014 at 20:06
  • @HLGEM what did you talk about for so long?
    – bobby
    Mar 26, 2014 at 21:33
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    I talked about my accomplishments, my training, my previous jobs, I answered many technical questions, we talked about the role of the job in the company and the reporting relationships, the benefits, the promotion potential, the oprganizational culture and so on.
    – HLGEM
    Mar 26, 2014 at 21:47
  • I doubt that an hour is enough for all of that. Maybe I am long-winded, but I have hardly gotten started in an hour. if I get a good interviewer, who is as passionate about software as I am, we sort of get lost in conversation and forget that we are even in an interview, then are surprised when someone comes to claim the conference room. If you enjoy your job, you will have no problem at all filling an hour. Now, as to that written test … mwuuuuhahahhahaha !!!!! Mar 24, 2017 at 9:06

2 Answers 2


Half an hour for a test doesn't seem that bad to me. It's probably 15-20 questions(15-20 minutes, if you spend 1 minute per question), multiple choice/fill in the blank, with extra time to round it off to an even 1/2 hour.

I would say the hour long interview is somewhat normal as well. Screening interviews(typically phone interviews) will last 15-30 minutes. In-person and on-site interviews are typically longer, especially so if they have to fly you to their location for the interview. My current employer interviewed me for 5 hours straight! Though, admittedly, I talked to 6-8 different people, so the individual interviews themselves were rather short/normal.

You don't say if you're traveling at all, but I presume it's a local company. Even still, they are busy people, and they know you're a busy person. It makes sense to schedule a solid hour for talking so the both of you aren't trying to schedule around a bunch of different events.

Edit for clarification:

I admit, I worded my last topic poorly. All I meant by that is that the people who interview you on-site are most likely not dedicated to hiring/recruiting. They will usually be your future supervisor, department head, or other coworkers that you will deal with every day. This is a common practice, and it helps both you and them. On a normal day, these people have meetings, deadlines, etc. It's easier for them to schedule one interview(even if it is long), than it is for them to schedule two or more. Plus, it would be a nuisance for you to have to travel there 2+ times just to find out you didn't get the job. It ends up saving everyone time, and you get direct access to the people you will be working with, so you don't just get the boilerplate information that HR normally feeds you.

  • Thanks but I don't get your last point about them being busy means they would schedule for longer. I guess I see this as a red flag that they are bureaucratic.
    – bobby
    Mar 26, 2014 at 21:32
  • @user16748, I would see it as a sign that they want to know in detail what you have done and what you could bring to the company. It certainly is not bureaucratic by definintion.
    – HLGEM
    Mar 26, 2014 at 21:45
  • @user16748 See my edit. If it needs more clarification just let me know. In the end, it's a good practice and it saves everyone time and headaches.
    – Shaz
    Mar 26, 2014 at 22:28

To me this is a potential sign of bureaucracy.

Your statement here raises a red flag with me. Help Desk, by its very nature, involves a fair amount of documenting your work. What did you do? Who did you do it for? Is this something that requires a change in operations or is it a one time thing?

In other words, by it's nature a help desk job involves quite a bit of bureaucracy.

Regarding your other questions:

An hour is pretty short for a technical job. Yes, you don't normally have a 1 hour long conversation with someone. UNLESS you are trying to gauge whether this person actually knows what they are talking about AND that you will want to spend an unknown amount of time working with them on a daily basis. I'm going to ask you what you've done before, where you've been, why you left, what your goals are, what you think of linux/microsoft, etc.

In other words I'm going to spend the time to get to know you. Think of it as a blind date. You usually can't tell if you want to go out with the person for a second date until you've spent a little bit of time with them. Although, sometimes you just know off the bat and that's when the "interview" is cut short.

The types of questions they will ask will be directly related to the type of support you will be performing. So, if you know what it is you will be supporting then you should brush up for that.

The test itself will also be directly related to your job. For example, if you are going to be supporting windows desktops then I'd expect them to ask you questions about the start button, moving files around, setting up outlook (if they use that email client), etc. For a job like that I'd likely just put you in front of a PC with a problem, then pretend to be a user as you ask me questions and troubleshoot it.

Judging from all of your questions and various statements it sounds like you are brand new to the work force. Step back and take a breath. Done right, the interview process will help you understand a bit more about yourself.

To prepare, spend a few minutes figuring out what "tech support" means to them. Then take some time to review the types of issues with items you might be called on to support. Then relax and keep an open mind.

  • First off tech support is not the same is help desk. Second do you know what the term "work force means"? It means "the people engaged in or available for work". So what do you mean "it sounds like you are brand new to the workforce"? If you mean I have never held a job that certainly is a false belief. But in itself that doesn't mean much. Any 12 year old kid could have a job walking the neighbours dogs and be considered part of a "work force". I have however had tech support and programing related work in a professional setting.
    – bobby
    Mar 27, 2014 at 9:12
  • An interviewer typically tests a list of skills the candidate needs to have. You can test this either by doing (case interview) or from experience (give me a situation where you did X). Either one typically requires 10 minutes. If you also want to test technical knowledge, then 1 hour is not nearly enough.
    – parasietje
    Mar 27, 2014 at 11:09
  • @user16748: "tech support" and "help desk" are often used interchangeably depending on the company itself. So, sometimes they are the same thing. I'm glad to hear you have worked in this area before, it was just a thought that perhaps you had not based on your statement about not knowing what to study for prior to the interview and having never been in an interview that lasted "an hour". No one here can tell you what to study as you haven't given a list of responsibilities for the job nor your skill set; presumably the things you need to know for the job should be apparent.
    – NotMe
    Mar 28, 2014 at 14:10

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