Many college and university departments include a multiple day interview process in which a candidate meets, interviews with, and sometimes presents to potential supervisors, subordinates, and colleagues over the course of two or more days. I have been on many multiple day interviews over the past 15 years, and I can tell you that they are challenging and tiring. However, there are many strategies and tactics that you can employ in order to be fully prepared and in the right mindset to excel.
1. Remember that You Are Always “On”
From the time a representative from the organization you are interviewing with initially meets you to the time they say goodbye, you will be scrutinized. Being cognizant of your actions during this process is the most challenging part of multiple day interviews. Keep your “game face” on not only during the interviews and presentations, but also during meals and when traveling between meeting venues. Blunders are likely to occur if you take a mental break when you need to be constantly vigilant. You can rest after the process is over.
2. The 7/11 Rule
Seven impressions of a person are made in 11 seconds. That is a very short amount of time to make a good first impression. Even though you may have already spent hours with your host interviewer, each person you meet throughout the day needs to be met with enthusiasm, a positive approach, and respect. Tailor your approach so seven great impressions are made about you in those first 11 seconds.
3. Prepare for Evening Activities
In some cases, you may be invited to be a part of evening activities that staffers are taking a part in such as dinner, drinks, a sporting event, or other entertainment. I always recommend that you participate in these activities if invited no matter how exhausted you are as to not offend your potential employer. This is also a great time to see your interviewers in casual mode to better determine whether or not you actually want to work for and with these people should you be offered the job. Keep in mind that evening activities are a tactic that hiring organizations can use to see what you are really like outside of the question-and-answer sessions. Remember that even though you may be in a casual situation, you are always “on” (refer back to #1).
4. Be Mindful of Interactions with Support Staff
In many cases, administrative assistants and other support staffers can hold the proverbial keys to the kingdom. These potential colleagues may provide valuable opinions to upper management that will impact a decision to hire you. Be sure to not only show respect and humility in your discussions with these people, but positivity as well. Even though you may be a big shot where you come from, especially considering the position you are applying for, this doesn’t mean you should regard the support staff like hired servants.
5. Never Complain or Whine
During the course of your interview process, you will be faced with multiple questions between interview sessions and presentations: How was your flight? Did you find the hotel nice? Was the food good last night? What did you think about the tour of our building? The last thing anyone wants to hear is a negative opinion or whining. You could perform well in interviews, but kill your chances for the job during small talk.
6. Prepare “Thank You” Cards in the Evening
It is crucial that you craft thank you notes for everyone that you met with. Do your best to create a custom note for each person rather than using a boilerplate message. Once I had a multiple day interview in which I had to write nearly 50 thank you notes. I was able to get half of them done on my first evening in the hotel and the next day asked my host if she would be willing to distribute them through the organization’s mail system. Through this process I was able to get my thanks back to the people I met with quickly plus it saved on postage costs. The remaining notes I finished upon returning home that evening because I met with over 20 people on that particular day. Thank you notes could have been crafted ahead of time, but I wanted to be able to incorporate discussion points and other critical information that occurred during meetings with those particular interviewers. This demonstrates a particular savvy that some of your competitors may not necessarily show.
What other strategies and tactics have you used or recommend to those who will be participating in upcoming multi-day interviews? Please share your comments, thoughts, and stories below.