All-day interviews are typically a series of 30- to 60-minute sessions with a variety of interviewers from the company/school and may include informational sessions, presentations, panels, workshops, and/or meals throughout the day. They are most common for competitive programs, rotational programs, graduate schools, and executive positions.
Preparing for an All-Day Interview
One place to start preparing is by reviewing emails and any additional communications received from the school/company in order to familiarize yourself with the details of the day. Next, you can ask for the schedule as well as information about who you will be meeting ahead of time, if this information has not been provided.
To get ready to answer interview questions, perform a self-assessment of your skills and experiences. A question may be repeated during separate interviews, so be sure to speak about different skills and examples that best align with the position of the individual with whom you are meeting.
Here’s an example: You are interviewing for an administrative assistant position in an office on campus, and the interviewers ask, “Why do you believe you are qualified for this position?”
- 1st Interview (with an employee/student): Focus on your organizational skills by discussing how your daily tasks include managing paperwork and balancing multiple schedules.
- 2nd Interview (with a supervisor): Focus on your communication skills by discussing how your daily tasks include interacting with students, faculty, and staff who visit the front desk.
Coordinate travel logistics. You may be provided with meals, lodging, and/or transportation by the company/program with which you are interviewing, but this is not always the case. Each has a unique policy for covering interview travel costs. Ask for clarification on this topic; be prepared to cover your own costs in case the interviewer does not.
If possible, visit the location prior to the interview to become familiar with the area and plan your travel time accordingly. It may also be helpful to bring minimal baggage, as you will be moving around throughout the day. If multiple bags cannot be avoided, ask the interview host if there is a place to store your items for the day.
Review our Interview Preparation Guide for additional tips on answering interview questions.
The Day of the Interview
- First, know your needs (e.g., food, hydration, caffeine) and plan accordingly for the day. It is acceptable to ask for a quick break between interviews to meet these needs if the opportunity is not directly offered.
- Become comfortable with the environment by arriving approximately 10 to 15 minutes early to the interview site. This will give you an extra moment to settle in before meeting your interviewer.
- You should also be prepared to interact with many individuals, including employees/students at your level, your potential supervisor(s), management, and/or other candidates in both formal and informal settings throughout the day.
During the Interview
- Treat each stage of the interview as if it is your first. Pay particular attention to making strong first and last impressions.
- Ask questions. Tailor your questions to each interviewer’s position, focusing on their unique role and how you may interact with them in the future. Making these connections will allow you to stand out as an interviewee.
- At the end of each interview, ask for the interviewer’s business card and offer yours, if you have one. If the interviewer does not have a card, ask for their email address. Write a note on the back of each card or in a notepad in order to remember individual details about each person you meet. This will be helpful when writing thank-you notes.
Meal Restrictions & Reminders
Some companies or programs may provide meals for their candidates when interviews are expected to last a full day. However, you may not be asked about food allergies or dietary restrictions. If you require special meal accommodations, it is best to email the interview coordinator to discuss what options are available. A sample email is provided below:
My name is _, and I will be interviewing for the [position/program] on [date]. I understand that lunch will be provided as part of the day’s agenda and would like to thank you for this kind gesture. [As I adhere to a vegan diet, I was wondering if such a meal option would be available. –OR– I wanted to make you aware that I have a severe peanut allergy and cannot come in contact with any peanut-based products, oils, or dusts. Can you please let me know if a peanut-free meal option can be provided?] If this is not feasible, can you please let me know if a refrigerator and/or microwave will be available so I can pack my own meal accordingly? Thank you.”
- Engage in professional conversation with all employees, students, and/or candidates. The meal is still part of the interview, so continue to discuss relevant topics in a conversational manner.
- Avoid ordering the most expensive item on the menu.
- Avoid consuming alcoholic drinks throughout the interview process, even if you are of legal drinking age. If the interviewer or other interview participants choose to drink, it is best to remain social but politely decline alcohol so as not to accidentally become unprofessional.
- Avoid using your cell phone at the table or during your lunch break.
- Avoid foods that are usually messy to avoid stains and spills, as well as foods that will remain on your breath beyond meal times, such as garlic.
- Be polite to all wait staff.
- If you are at a buffet-style meal, start with one plate and only go up for seconds after every guest has gotten a first serving.
Additional Tips & Tricks
- Ask questions. There are a lot of moving parts during an all-day interview; it’s better to ask than to be wrong.
- Be flexible. Understand that the interviewers have a lot to coordinate and there may be schedule changes, overlap between interviews, and/or emergencies that arise.
- Send each interviewer a unique thank-you note within 24 hours of your interview. It is best to be prepared with cards, as some interviewers may have mailboxes specifically for thank-you notes on the day of the interview.
- In your thank-you note, you can include a connection you made with that specific interviewer, respond with additional information on a question you felt you did not answer as strongly, and express genuine appreciation for their time.
Photo by RDNE Stock project: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-black-suit-sitting-signing-a-contract-5922534/