The interviewer identifies work-related experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are desirable for a particular assignment. The employer then structures pointed questions to elicit detailed responses aimed at determining if the candidate possesses the desired characteristics. Questions often start with “Tell me about a time…” or “Describe a situation when…”
Respond with STAR stories most relevant to the question and needs of the employer. Be specific. Candidates who tell the interviewer about particular situations that relate to each question are more effective. Be prepared with 3-4 STAR stories for each interview.
These interviews are usually 15 minutes to an hour by telephone. Be prepared by having your resume and notes on the employer and position with you. Try to be in a quiet place with no distractions around you. If an interviewer calls without an appointment, ask for a few minutes to call back or schedule another time.
Interviewers usual focus on your experience, education, skills, abilities, personality, and values. If the interviewer asks about salary, try to delay talk about money until later after you gain a better understanding of the position. Try to find out more about the job and candidate criteria, but recognize that the screening interviewer may not know some of the answers.
Hiring Manager Interviews
This interviewer is usually the person to whom you will report if you are hired, and has the most influence on this decision. When you meet them, get to know them, their background, and position. Seek to serve them by asking questions about what they want accomplished. Take notes, and be alert for opportunities to connect relationally.
It’s not unusual to meet with a variety of people in one visit – not only the hiring manager and HR representative, but also employees in and around the position to be filled. All of them are important! Offer each a copy of your resume. Pay attention to their interests and perspectives, to what needs to be accomplished through the job, and what they say about the hiring manager.
The hiring and HR managers may already have agreed that they want to hire you, but need to let senior management get a look. This chance meeting is an opportunity to get perspectives from top management and the work for which you are interviewing.
For some jobs you may be asked to give a presentation followed by Q&A. The approach is common for sales jobs and gives you a chance to show your communication abilities. While you want your presentation to be memorable, avoid using gimmicks or being too cute. Gain confidence and learn skills at a local Toastmasters group.
Team or Panel Interviews
The advantage of a panel is you have a chance to see how the group interacts. Address your answers to everyone in the room. Pay attention to the quietest person, who is often the final decision maker.
Sometimes interviewers ask difficult questions in hard ways to see how you respond. No matter how frustrating or intimidating, do not lose your cool. Do the best you can, and be firm and friendly.