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How to Survive a Marathon Interview Process

​The specter of the all-day interview can be extremely intimidating. Single interviews are hard enough, but a marathon interview process involves a day where a candidate will meet with several senior stakeholders within a company to gain different perspectives on your suitability for the role and challenge your different skill sets.

All-day interviews come in a range of formats depending on the role you are applying for. They can involve a mixture of exercises relevant to your role and general tests to check your culture fit, such as personality and IQ tests.

You are not a machine - after a full day of rigorous questioning and testing, you are bound to be mentally exhausted and physically tired out. The key to success for a marathon interview is in the preparation you make beforehand.

Be prepared

These interview processes are designed to be challenging and rigorous and should not be approached with a wing it’ attitude - however talented and confident you are. Your potential new employers is attempting to gain a full picture of what you are about, from your skills and experience to your attitude and cultural fit. A rigorous process demands thorough preparation. This is everything you need to do to prepare before you walk through the door.

Request a schedule - this is vital in terms of preparing for a marathon interview. This will help you get into the mental headspace of what is expected from you. You may have four very long interviews, or twelve very short interviews. Whatever the format, you need to make sure you are mentally prepared for what you are facing, and pace yourself around those allimportant breaks. Request this a few days before your interview to give the employer time to check everyone’s schedules.

Find out the names and job titles of each of your interviewers - Look up their LinkedIn pages and find out their experience and expertise, and what relationship they may have with you if you win the position. If they are thought leaders, read their articles and blogs to find out their views on your industry. Researching your interviewers means you can find out what makes them tick, which will make them easier to engage on the day.

Prepare questions for your employer - a day-long interview is an opportunity for you to get an impression of the institution you are hoping to work for from several angles. Think of all the information you want to know from the different interviews and ensure you have prepared questions to ask each of them. This also takes the pressure off yourself during each interview and allows for breathing space.

Gather your examples and stories - and prepare some notes on your most notable career achievements. Numbers work best, so if your department contributed to a 20% increase in revenue, keep that number in mind. Think of your best and most impactful anecdotes - an example of a successful negotiation, a challenge where you were the lead problem solver, a project you managed from conception to launch, or a campaign which showcases your creative thinking.

Put together a survival kit

Some interviews will require you to take a longer journey to a company headquarters and may even need a flight or overnight stay.

The demanding nature of the all-day interview means you need to plan ahead about what to bring with you. The following items will keep you feeling fresh and looking your best and help you stay mentally focused.

A flask for coffee or water - though hopefully you will be offered plenty of chances to stay hydrated throughout the day. It is a good idea to keep a flask with you so you always have access to your morning caffeine or freshwater to keep you on the ball.

Snacks - just like a real marathon, these days require stamina, so plan your fuel to keep your brain sharp and keep your energy up between interviews. Choose healthy yet filling snacks like granola bars or a banana, and a small sugary treat for moments when you are feeling fatigued.

Antibacterial hand gel or hand wipes - to keep you feeling fresh and clean between interviews, particularly after you have eaten food.

Deodorant or perfume - most job interviews aren’t exactly physically taxing, but when the pressure’s on, your body is more likely to get a sweat on. Make sure you are protected from bad body odour and keep on smelling great throughout the day.

Comb or hairbrush - to ensure you look as smart during your last interview as you did when your day started.

A book - it is tempting to look at your phone in between interviews, but bringing a book with you will truly hit the ‘refresh’ button between sessions, rather than clouding it with speculation and analysis of how the day is going. Bring an interesting book with you to help you slow your brain down and give it a rest before it goes back to full speed at the next interview.

Approach each interview consistently

It is likely you will have weaknesses and strengths throughout the day, and it is vital you approach each interview with consistency.

Keep in mind that even though this is a marathon for you, your meeting with each interviewer is a stand-alone hour or two for them. Remember to shake the hand of each interviewer, introduce yourself and be prepared to repeat yourself a few times throughout the day, however tiring it may seem.

End each interview on a positive note about how you are excited to interview for the position, reiterate why you believe you are the ideal candidate, and that you look forward to hearing from them.

Vary your answers

Keep in mind that your interviewers will be comparing notes. Avoid telling the same story and highlighting the same achievements during each interview, or you are giving the impression that your experience is more limited than it is.

During your research process, think of the best information you have which will be relevant for each position. For example, the head of marketing may be engaged with examples where you have shown creativity or solved problems, whereas a sales director will be more interested in figures and percentages. A HR figure will be more interested to hear about your management skills, or a story about dealing with a toxic employee.

Fight Fatigue

Fatigue is your worst enemy during the all-day interview. Talking for hours in a high-stakes situation leads to mental burnout, and a mix of anxiety and disinterest. After the initial rush of your first interview, you may be facing fatigue even by the second round.

These tips will help you fight fatigue during a day-long interview:

Be careful with coffee - if you rely on caffeine, regulate your coffee throughout the day to avoid any crashes in the afternoon.

Treat your brain like your body - keep your brain engaged in breaks with either reading a book or playing brain teaser games on your phone.

Go for a walk during a break - gentle physical exercise keeps your blood flowing, prevents tiredness and is the best way to keep fatigue at bay.

Stay hydrated - even if you are not thirsty, make sure you are sipping water throughout the day to stay feeling awake, alert and engaged. A good way to avoid showing signs of fatigue during later interviews is to be mindful of your body language.

Don’t sit and speak flatly - keep in mind that you should be animated and enthusiastic with your gestures.

See your lunch as another interview

The majority of all-day interviews will include a break for lunch midway through. This is the perfect opportunity to socialize with your possible new co-workers in an informal setting.

Though you may be wanting to refresh, you also need to view your lunch break as another interview in the marathon day, but this one revolves around your cultural and personality fit. Your interviewers will be taking note of your social manner, and whether you are an easy person to communicate with. It is also an opportunity for you to ask questions and discover more about the company.