Recently I was told by a potential interviewer for a job that we would be having a "high-level conversation" soon.

I assumed at the time that she just meant a conversation with a higher-up, e.g., her boss, but suddenly am not so sure.

So I'm curious. Have you heard that term before, and what does it mean?

  • Do you really mean "interviewee", i.e. "person I will interview"? Unless I'm missing something, "interviewer" would make more sense.
    – Marthaª
    Mar 8, 2011 at 18:28
  • 1
    I think it could mean either, depending on the interviewer: it could be a conversation at a higher level of the company's hierarchy, or about more advanced or more specific subjects. Mar 8, 2011 at 19:17

2 Answers 2


A high-level conversation is one where you discuss generalities instead of focusing on details.

  • That makes sense, she did say shortly after that we'd be discussing my interests... which I suspect will be considered in a very general sort of manner.
    – Hydrangea
    Mar 9, 2011 at 1:35
  • Please could you provide some more explanation or a reference to back up your answer? I'm having a really hard time believing this is correct, except maybe only in an ironic sense.
    – Jimi Oke
    Mar 9, 2011 at 1:51
  • @Jimi Oke: This interpretation is how I and the people I speak to use it. At a high level you can see the big picture, at a low level you can see the details. It's basically a metaphor. I don't have any authoritative references but these two links use it in this way (in the context of systems design): en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_and_low_level urbanixconsulting.com/glossary.php Mar 9, 2011 at 3:21
  • @Jimi Oke Software development is the same. A high level language (.NET, Java) you don't have to deal with the details of memory management, hardware interfaces, or much else. Lower level (C/C++ down to Assembly) languages you are concerned with all the details. I assumed this was pretty much standard English when heard elsewhere on different subjects. Low level = details, high level = bigger picture. Mar 9, 2011 at 16:38
  • 1
    Mr. Shiny and New and @Aequitarum Custos: Thanks for enlightening me!
    – Jimi Oke
    Mar 10, 2011 at 5:35

"High level" here normally refers to the status of the participants. When you read in the paper that "The US and Germany are holding high-level talks," the meaning is that these involve persons on both sides at the upper levels of government, up to and including the president, prime minister, etc.

  • 1
    About political contexts I’d agree, but for a job interview, especially for any kind of technical job, I think that Mr. Shiny and New’s interpretation is much more likely.
    – PLL
    Mar 9, 2011 at 1:36
  • +1 This is what I always interpreted it to mean as well and The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary says the same thing. We'll never know what the interviewer meant, though. Based on the other answer, using high-level to mean discussing generalities seems to be fairly common too:)
    – Tragicomic
    Mar 9, 2011 at 7:50
  • By the way, I've never, not once, heard "high-level" used in the sense described by Mr Shiny.
    – The Raven
    Mar 9, 2011 at 14:29
  • @TheRaven it is "high-level" in the "50,000 ft (or km) view" sense. Jul 6, 2012 at 20:46

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.