The 1–3-Minute Rule

How long is too long for oral answers to interview questions?

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Unsplash

Think logically and analytically about your interview strategy:

Let’s say you have a 45-minute interview scheduled. In an ideal world, you have all 45-minutes to speak. Were that the case, if each of your interview responses lasted anywhere from 4‒5 minutes, you would answer only about 9‒11 questions.

However, within a 45-minute interview, you would also need to factor in time for the interview panel’s introductions and closing remarks. Together, the latter would most likely entail about 5 more minutes shaved off the 45-minute interview. So, in actuality, if you spend 4‒5 minutes per question, your interview panel can only ask up to 8–10 questions.

The last part to factor into your interview is the questions you ask the panel about the job. If performed well, your segment to question the panel may last about 5 minutes. So in reality, your interview with the panel will be on average about 30‒35 minutes. And if you unwisely choose to spend 4‒5 minutes answering each question, you have restricted the panel to only ask you, at best, 7 questions.

7 questions are NOT ideal for a job interview.

In a standard interview where 45-minutes have been allotted by the panel members, your aim is to spend 1‒3 minutes on each question asked. With this aim, at best, your interview panel can assess you under 30 questions. More realistically and perhaps even ideally, a combination of 1‒3-minute responses can give you about 15‒20 questions from the panel. Picture the ability to pithily respond to each question in 1‒3 minutes. As most questions take a matter of seconds to relay, you really will have the fullness of the interview to ensure that by the time you leave the examination chair, there is a lingering presence of exactly who you are in terms of your character and personality, your added value in terms of your skills sets, and (sadly) your physical appearance in terms of how well you will represent the face of the company on and off the job. So, it falls down to you to control the execution and result of your interview.

It is your responsibility to maximize your interview time — however long or short the time has been allotted — by responding cogently and concisely. Your interviewer will not control the length of your responses, only the allotted time of the interview.

Practice, practice, practice preparing in advance.

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