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Unconventional Interview Advice

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Ok, so you have finally landed an interview with a top company for a great job. Now the nervous energy starts to flow in your veins … you realize you have to sit down with another human being, one-on-one, in a closed office, and prove to them that you are the perfect candidate for their job opening. 


Interviewing is known to be one of the most feared situations that we humans face—it’s up there with the fear of death! So, how do you normally prepare for the interview? How do you set yourself up to successfully answer a series of questions about your work experience, skills, and accomplishments? If you are like most people you will either do nothing at all and “wing” the interview, or you may try to anticipate what questions will be asked and will have your list of strengths and weaknesses ready to review with the interviewer. The problem is, how can you possibly guess which questions you will be asked when there are an infinite number of questions that could be thrown at you? The truth is: you can’t. But there is good news. 


Most companies today don’t follow old-school interview styles—asking you hypothetical questions or about your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. The most common and more successful interview is known among Human Resources professionals and hiring managers as behavior-based interviewing. The theory behind it is that as a candidate, the best way to predict your future performance in their job is to closely examine your past performance. Your past performance is the single best indicator of what your future performance will be. The focus will also be on the outcomes and results you provided. 


Most often, the hiring team has identified a specific set of capabilities or skills they are looking for in the person that will fill their available position. They will ask you structured questions that are based on these competencies. They will want to understand how your experience and skills will work in their job and environment. 


As an interviewer conducting a behavior-based interview, it is best to ask about specific examples of work the candidate has done and then probe into the details. A skilled interviewer will guide you through the series of questions and give you time to answer. The interviewer is looking for you to provide him or her with evidence of your capabilities. A well-trained interviewer will rarely ask closed-end questions or questions that have yes or no answers, unless they are related to specific skills. They would also avoid hypothetical questions, since anyone can say what they would do in a given situation if they have a good imagination. However, it is very different to ask how a candidate has handled him/herself in a highly specific situation they already encountered. Here are some specific examples of typical behavior-based questions: 


· Give me an example of a time that you were juggling numerous tasks. How did you prioritize the tasks? What was the outcome?


· Tell me about a time when you offered a creative solution to a problem. How did you come up with the idea? What were the results? 


· Tell me about your style as a manager. How would your employees describe you? How do you like to be managed by your manager in order to get the best out of you? 


· Tell me about a team that you worked on that was highly successful/challenging. What worked well? What didn’t? What was your role? What did you learn from working on this team?


You can prepare yourself to answer questions like these by coming up with 8–10 stories that address common areas like: team work and collaboration, supervising, how you interact with your boss, problem-solving, handling clients, conflict, decision-making, multi-tasking, projects, challenges, etc. This way you will have an arsenal of stories you can tweak a little bit to answer all the different questions they may throw at you!

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