Your well-structured resume impressed your potential employer and got you an interview. That’s great news! Today’s tip is the next step – the interview. Now, let’s make sure you maximize your opportunity.
Although the resume is an extremely important element in the job search process, it will only get you as far as the interview. From then on, it’s just you and the interviewer. And no matter how good you look on paper, you will have to look just as good in person. And you will never look as good as you would like unless you’ve prepared. This preparatory phase is well worth the time and effort invested in it, because a lot of your preliminary research can be used every time you go to an interview. Depending on the position and company, you may only have to make small additions.
What’s The Point of The Interview?
The interview is a two-way evaluation process, so it’s important to approach the interview with a focused mind. The interviewer will try and decide whether you are fit for the job and the organization and you are evaluating the interviewer, making sure the company is a good fit for you. You are in a position to decide whether you want to work for this company or not.
So how will you make this decision?
Just like the interviewer will make her decision for you, you should also observe, analyze, and ask questions. This means you have more prep work to do. Let’s look at some of the different styles of interviews under which this evaluation process takes place.
One-on-One Interview. This is the most common style of interview, involving one interviewer and one interviewee. For this type of meeting, you only have to concentrate on one person; but this could be a disadvantage. The interviewer has to ask questions, evaluate the responses, observe your body language, and think of the next question all at the same time! And it’s just you and her. You make a bad first impression and there’s no one else of which to make a good impression.
Panel Interview. A well-established method of interviewing in the some of the larger multinationals, panel interviewing is becoming popular. It is one of the most effective ways of decreasing the company’s interview process. This involves 2 or 3 people interviewing one candidate simultaneously. This means that there are three opinions of one person in a third of the time, and division of labor among the interviewers allows for careful scrutiny of body language and deep analysis of each candidate’s answers. This means more work for you, but it’s all good. Just keep in mind that the interview is just a conversation and in this case, it’s three people. Your job is still the same: You are exploring whether the company is a good fit for you. A panel interview allows you see diverse views of the company.
Phone | Video Interview. Ever thought of applying to a company overseas and wondered how they would bear the cost of flying so many people to the interview location? Well, they don’t have to worry about this. Phone and video interviews are becoming increasingly popular as globalization allows for locating the best of the best no matter where they are. Extremely time and cost effective, more and more corporations are choosing to conduct first and second round interviews by phone, and opting to fly in only selected candidates towards the later stages of the interviewing/hiring process.
For some candidates, this is a dream come true: You don’t have to worry about showing up for the interview on time or do you have to worry about feeling uncomfortable under the scrutinizing eyes of the interviewer, and you can get away with your answers because they can’t see your face.
No, not really.
Actually, looking at the phone interview from a bird’s eye view, we see a lot of extra work coming the way of both interviewer and interviewee. The interviewer no longer has the luxury of seeing facial expressions that tell a lot more than the actual answers; they don’t have the chance to evaluate the interviewee’s grooming, and they can’t even see whether he’s using cheat sheets or not.
As for the interviewee, he is no longer comforted by the encouraging nods of the interviewer he cannot see; the few seconds he takes to formulate an answer seem like an eternity, and he cannot even establish rapport and make eye contact with his evaluators. He must rely solely on his tone of voice and the words he chooses since he has no helpers here.
Case Study Interview. This is another method of interviewing quickly gaining popularity in the competitive world of multinationals. This interview is usually a second-stage method, after the initial group of candidates has been filtered. Here’s how it works.
Candidates are given a case to study in solitude or as part of a group. They are then called in by the interviewer, and a discussion concerning the case at hand takes place. While the output of the study is definitely of importance, a lot of weight is also placed on how the candidate utilizes the information given, the level of analysis employed, and how it is all presented. The hiring company sometimes integrates case interviews as part of an assessment center – a whole day of tests, interviews, and case studies organized.
Now that we’ve established some of the different styles under which an interview can be structured, let’s look at the inner workings that are employed within these broad frames.
Types of Interview Questions
Behavior-Based Questions. Most interviewers work with the assumption that the past is the best indication of the future. How a candidate has performed in previous work or situations will probably say a lot about how they will perform in the future. The thinking behind these types of questions is that even though people change and develop, some basic behavior will still be there. So these types of questions probe past happenings and hypothetical situations because they give this kind of insight.
Questions include “Tell me about a time when you assumed leadership of a particular group of people, and the outcome that resulted from your leadership”, or, “tells me about a situation where you worked effectively as part of a team towards achieving a common goal”?. If you can show the interviewer that you’ve done these things in the past, he’ll know you’ll be able to do it again should the need arise.
Resume-Based Questions. These are the most straightforward of questions. Here, the interviewer uses your resume as the primary basis of his questions and asks for clarifications and a lot of “why” questions. So make sure you know your resume inside out – you won’t be able to look at it then, or claim that you can’t talk about an item you’ve supposedly done!
Actually, these questions are the easiest of questions, because you know all the answers. The trick here is to be able to make a significant addition than what to what is on your resume, in terms of details, rather than simply parroting what is already there.
Hypothetical Questions. “What would you do if you were heading a team of 4 people, 3 of whom did not perform?” “What is the first thing you would do if I were to hire you as a Marketing Manager for this company?” Questions like these put candidates on the spot and the interviewers watch their reaction. Sometimes the actual answer is not as important as the line of thought in which they go since the interviewer is checking out the candidate’s mindset more than anything. Not to mention that some of the situations they choose can be highly unlikely!!
This type of questioning is ideal for spotting out ingenious people whose minds are alert and constantly on the go, and who can quickly adapt to situations, however odd they may be. Of course, some of the situations cited could be normal ones the candidate is to expect, should he get the job. Any interview is almost always a combination of all the above questions, so the safest way is to train yourself to answer all kinds, to avoid as many surprises as possible.
Style of The Interviewer
Now that we’ve looked at interview styles and interview questions, let’s look at the style of the interviewer. As explained earlier, the interview is a 2-way evaluation; however, there is a general idea that the interviewer holds all the cards. Some interviewers like to project this image, and this usually translates to what is commonly known as the “stress interview”.
In the stress interview, the interviewer chooses to pressure the candidate in a number of ways: Difficult questions, unpleasant countenance, rude interruptions, stark aggression and challenges the answers given. Some very easy questions become complicated when this attitude is adopted. The pressure can start from the minute you walk into the room, or can build up from one question to the next, or can just come and go with every few questions. However you experience it, take it with a grain of salt and remember that the interview goes two ways. Just breathe, maintain your composure, listen to the questions and simply answer. You’ll do fine.
The other style is the opposite: You may encounter a very pleasant interviewer who will exchange pleasantries, smile and nod her head from the minute you walk into the meeting to the minute you walk out.
Does that mean you’re in luck?
Maybe – maybe not!
An interviewer that makes you feel too much at ease is probably going to be able to get a lot more from you than the other who stresses you out. And a lot of the things she gets you to say may be things you would rather keep to yourself! Did you really plan to tell her that you only applied for this position because of the high pay, or that you’re just planning to be there for a year at the most and then plan to move to the family business after you’ve learned all you can? I don’t think so!
Her smiles and nods may also lead you to believe that you are on the right track and that they might as well have given you the offer on your way out. Not too fast! Don’t be surprised when they don’t call you back for a second interview!
It Boils Down To This
It’s only natural to feel nervous about an interview. If you feel fearful and anxious, remember that the interview is only a conversation to see whether both parties are a good fit. By knowing what to expect from an interview and interviewer, it becomes easier to focus on the important questions about your qualifications and whether partnering with the prospective company is a good fit.