Surviving the Scary New World of Interviews

22 04 2008

Whilst everyone bandies around that “getting to” the interview is the hardest part I think most people faced with an interview would agree that “doing the interview” definitely feels the hardest part. 

Adrenalin pumps as you psyche yourself to give the presentation of your life, and the uncertainty of what you will face in each interview definitely puts even the most confident of professional on their toes.  So what new approaches can you expect in an interview in today’s marketplace?


Interview Types

With increasing litigation and costs associated with hiring mistakes, employers are now placing an increased focus on the job applicant’s performance at interview to determine their employment suitability. Accordingly recruiters are devising and using new and increasingly complicated interview techniques to ensure the selection tool used will give the right person for the role.


According to Career Directors International’s latest 2007 Career Industry Mega-trends Report, today’s applicants can expect a barrage of different interview formats when searching for a new role, some relaxed and informal others designed to make the candidate off-balanced or challenged. Interview themes of 2007 listed by the report include the In-Depth Structured Interview; Case Method Interviews; Puzzle Interviews; Speed Interviews; Job Simulations and In-Box Exercises; and Auditions / Group Interviews

So what are the common interview types of today and what can you expect?  

·   The Structured Interview is one of the most common of interview types and is often what most applicants expect in an interview. In this format recruiters have a list of specific questions designed around the position’s selection criteria which candidates are posed and then compared against in comparison to other applicants.

·   Panel Interviews are where candidates face questions posed by a panel of interviewers ranging in number usually between 2 and 6. Panel interviews are common in larger organisations with multiple departments or in the government sector. Each panel member brings unique expertise and perspective and often includes a representative of HR and the hiring department.

·   The Behavioural Interview is increasingly becoming the tool of choice for large organisations in today’s employment market. This interviewing technique works on the basis that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour and as such, applicants are required to give specific examples of how they have responded to a situation in the past. This provides the employer with data on how the candidate measures up on a key dimension or skill area. These responses are then scored and ranked/assessed against other applicants.

·   Informal Interviews are aimed at getting a representative indication of candidate’s real behavioural style. Often unstructured and relaxed they are designed to put you at ease so employers can get to know the real you.

·   Group Interviews may take place in an assessment centre environment and are commonly used by larger organisations to assess multiple candidates at once. These formats can also include fishbowl interviews and simulations. In fishbowl interviews and simulations applicants are given scenarios or case studies and asked to show how they would respond. In fishbowl interviews these occur in a group setting and everything you do and say is closely monitored. In simulations you are put into a mock setting and asked to simulate your response.

·   Speed Interviewing: Speed interviewing is a new technique where recruiters meet and screen multiple candidates at one time. This technique is being used increasingly for graduate positions and employers could meet and interview anything up to 15 candidates in a sitting.

·   Puzzle Interviews: Microsoft, a frequent past user of the puzzle interview has led to an increased usage of this challenging interview technique. Puzzle interviews ask applicants to respond to logic questions as employers search for the most creative and innovative applicants. Often puzzle interviews are not looking for the right answer but to assess how you respond to the question under the pressure of the interview.

·   The Stress Interview is used to assess an individual’s response under pressure.  The interviewer may deliberately act in an emotionally provocative way or produce interview circumstances aimed at challenging the applicant. 

So what does all this mean to applicants? Remember the Boy Scout adage, “be prepared!” Candidates now more than ever need to take interview preparation seriously.  Remember, interviewing is like any skill, the more you practice the better you’ll get. If you don’t wind up with the role then use the experience to enhance your performance for next time. If you are really worried about your interview capabilities invest in some interview coaching.  Good Luck!




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