Surviving the extended interview process

09.05.2013


Surviving the extended interview process
Surviving the extended interview process.

The interview process can be stressful for every job applicant, and while some jobs only require an hour-long experience to determine whether you're right for the role, others can take much longer. The average job seeker is up against a 16-day interview process, according to CNN, while some arduous positions can stretch that process into months. Surviving the process is possible when you need to find a job, though - it just takes time, dedication and effort.

One of the common threads in Glassdoor.com's list of the 25 most difficult companies to be hired at is that of the long and difficult interview process. At one major management consulting firm, candidates have reported as many as nine interview sections, with frequent tests ranging from case studies to grueling math exams, before they landed the position. The reason for this is easy - while most jobs won't require nearly as much, they all want to ensure their potential hires can handle what's expected of them in the position.

Long, grueling interview processes aren't meant to break down a potential employee's will but to ensure beyond all other options that they're decidedly the best candidate for the job. While it's a challenge to make sure an employee's at his or her best for an extended period of time that can take days, even weeks, it's done to make sure the right person walks through the door - and remaining consistent, turning in quality work, is the key to make sure you're that person. Learning about the field you're interested in - your potential employer, its competitors, the general state of the industry - can also give you ammunition and foresight into the best ways to approach any situation.

Popular questions help measure real-world skills
A few specific types of questions are regularly asked during the interview process at many top companies, all of them with an end goal of discovering important facts about their employees. The first, case-study and real-world questions, ask incredibly intricate and detailed technical questions to determine if their candidates are as familiar with their chosen industry as they must be to succeed, according to US News and World Report.

Difficult questions, such as what an employee would do to build an engine from scratch, are less likely to prove real-world skills and more to ensure they're taking the experience seriously. Doing research into every part of a position's requirements, in addition to industry norms and company information, can arm you with the tools you'll need to succeed.

One of the more famous types of interview question is that of the critical-thinking exam - questions that can come out of the blue and may not have any specific relevance to a position. These questions aren't to torture interviewees but to survey their ability to think quickly, work fast and take on an imposing challenge.

If faced with a critical-thinking question, laughing it off or answering quickly can make you appear skittish or unprepared. At the same time, there's no wrong answer - your potential employer doesn't want a specific answer, instead wanting to see you give the best answer possible. Working through the question with speed, logic and a measured approach (asking clarifying questions, for example) is the best way to defeat this question.

Even if the long interview process doesn't work out for you in the end, the experience gained from holding your own will help you in future ventures - even if they didn't get the job, Glassdoor says nearly every one of their most difficult companies on the list received positive scores for the interview process. Knowing what to do in a given situation can prepare you in the long run, especially if another interview finds you in the same position. 

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