How To Interview Effectively PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 08 September 2008 00:00
A lot of people get nervous in job interviews. Fear kicks in as they worry about whether or not they’ll answer the questions in the right way and if this will ultimately lead to rejection. This can happen to anyone from newly minted graduates going for their first job in a big multinational corporation to seasoned executives being interviewed by a board for a plum CEO role in a fast growing startup. Fortunately, there are a few simple things to remember that will help you perform at your best and result in you landing a role that is right for you.

They Want to Give you the Job

The first thing to remember is that you have been asked to interview because the interviewers think you could be the right person to help them solve the challenges they’re facing. This means that they are not looking for reasons to reject you, but are in fact looking for reasons to hire you. The sooner they can find the right person to help them, the sooner they can get back to doing their own jobs.

You Should Be Interviewing the Interviewers

Engaging with the interviewers to understand what their needs truly are is perhaps the most powerful thing you can do. A good interview should not be an interrogation or a one-way affair; it should be a discussion about finding a match between the company’s needs and your skills and experiences. You should be asking questions of the interviewers to determine what they really need done and providing some insights as to how you would go about helping them do it. It is entirely reasonable for you to work out that what they’re looking for is not something you’d want to do.

I once found myself in this position when interviewing with a well known large company in Redmond. The fact that the interviewer couldn’t understand that my goal was to find out if there was a good fit as opposed to getting hired regardless of fit was reason enough for me to know that I would not have been a good fit for that part of the organization.

They’re More Interested in How You Answer than What Your Answer is

Two of the most important skills employers will look for are the ability to solve challenges independently and the capacity to learn from and then move on from your mistakes. Google is famous for posing asking very open-ended hypothetical questions that have no one right answer to see how you think through a problem: Do you jump straight to an answer or show your thinking? Do you launch into telling then what the answer is or ask clarifying questions? Do you go into excruciating unnecessary detail or focus on a clear direct logical path to arrive at a result? All of these things can be learned from how you respond.

Many firms these days will employ another technique called Behavioral Interviewing. The idea behind Behavioral Interviewing is to have you explain how you went about achieving something in the past. This approach is considered by some to be more effective than the use of hypotheticals since you will be able to show how you behaved in a real world situation and learned from it. Given this knowledge, you should always be prepared with some anecdotes that amplify key achievements on your CV and demonstrate the strengths you want to sell to your interviewers.

This by no means a definitive list, however to summarise it’s my belief that if you go in prepared to talk about yourself, what you’ve done, and what you’ve learned as well as a willingness to actively engage the interviewers on what their needs are you’ll find that interviews are not so bad and can even be fun.

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Last Updated on Monday, 08 September 2008 22:16