5 reasons your next job interview may be challenging

Challenging job interviews result in better hires and higher job satisfaction -- but what factors contribute to whether an interview process will be particularly difficult?

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Do you know how much the Empire State Building weighs?

That’s one question -- with no correct answer -- that Google famously asks during its notoriously difficult job interviews. Others include: “Name a brand that represents you as a person,” (Twitter); “How many happy birthday posts do you think Facebook gets in one day?” (Facebook); and “What’s the first thing you’d print with a 3D printer if you had one?” (Rackspace).

One of the reasons for these tough, strange or unexpected questions, experts say, is to gauge the job candidate’s critical thinking and reasoning skills. Another, according to research from jobs site Glassdoor: Difficult job interviews result in better hires. In the fiercely competitive technology sector, attracting top talent is especially important.

But what other factors make difficult interview processes particularly difficult?

Glassdoor looked at more than 250,000 interview reviews across all fields to reveal five factors that increase the odds that your next interview may be more challenging than you expect.

1. Interview screens. Unsurprisingly, job interviews that require candidates to jump through hoops are deemed more difficult. These include panel interviews, which candidates rated as the most difficult; followed by phone interviews, skills tests and presentations. One positive: Research shows that while these added layers are more challenging for job candidates, they’re linked to better job satisfaction later on

2. Type of employer. The type of company impacts the difficulty of the interview. Interviews for positions at hospitals are 9.7 percent more difficult than the average, Glassdoor found. Following that are non-profits (9.6 percent more difficult), schools (8.1 percent), public companies (6.4 percent) and private companies (4.8 percent). On the flip side, interviews for contract positions were deemed 4 percent easier than the average interview.

3. Company size. The larger the company, the more challenging the interview (though only slightly). Interviewing at a company with 1,000 to 4,999 employees is 1 percent more difficult than interviewing at a company with 250 to 999 employees. 

4. Education. Job seekers with advanced degrees like MBAs report the hardest job interview experiences.

5. Age. The older you get, the harder you’re tried. On average, moving up one age group -- from 25-34 to 35-44, for example -- is associated with significantly more-difficult job interviews, Glassdoor found.

So what does this mean for job seekers? If you’re an older employee with an MBA interviewing for an IT position at a large hospital, you’re in for a doozy. (Kidding. Maybe.)

Experts suggest that you do your best to be prepared: Educate yourself about the company’s interview process by doing research online and reaching out to anyone you know who already works at the company. Practice your answers to interview questions you expect you’ll be asked, and come armed with questions of your own. 

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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