Interviews are like “driving tests”, you must demonstrate skills and ability; they require judgment and multitasking. In today’s competitive marketplace for ‘top jobs’, the nature or format of interviews vary from organisation to organisation.
The latest trends emerging in interviewing today:
“Assessment Days” take a full day, and typically candidates are given three exercises, all of which are based on fictitious companies and then a full one-on-one or panel interview in the afternoon.
Candidates are notified that they are not required to do any pre-work prior to the day. All the information that you need will be given on the day. The exercises are based on real life tasks such as sales promotion, team building and crisis management. Successful candidates are those who “do it” rather than just talking about it!
LUNCH / DINNER INTERVIEWS:
Used by leading multinationals to reflect a candidate’s ability to “host or entertain” clients, and hold engaging conversation while eating’ (not drinking); these require a mix of personality, confidence and social skills.
Contemporary processing of candidates:
Expect some or all of the following:
- Psychometric testing
- Personality testing
- Telephone interviews – one-to-one or conference calls
- Skills testing
THE TELEPHONE INTERVIEW:
More and more companies are starting the interview process with a ‘Telephone Interview’ to weed out the applications, to test communications skills and to bench mark how people “do the business” by phone.
Two main modes of application have arisen in our IT society – email and telephone – replacing the stamp and letter of the 70’s and 80’s. We’re online and on the other end of the phone, so if we do business this way, it’s obvious we recruit this way!
Taking a call and managing the call may be step one on the career ladder, so no monosyllable answers please. It is as important as a face-to-face interview.
Tips: Talk clearly, articulate your application, listen to the question; do not take a call on your mobile while you’re driving, even on hands free, as you will be distracted.
Questions that require thought not memorising CVs: Expect “different and in-depth questions”.
A major international company asks candidates to tell of the three things they would take to a desert island, (that is the easy part), the logical thought process is the answer to “why did you choose these”?
Another example of a question that could be asked by an interview panelcould be to look around the room, pick out a radiator for example and ask the candidate, “Give me 5 uses for that”?
Lateral thinkers and creative people are required in this scenario.
Probing at the Person – Questions that want to see your “metal”: candidates must be prepared to talk through answers to questions that will demonstrate their ability, experience and approach to problems and people, such as:
- Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it?
- Have you gone above and beyond the call of duty? If so, how?
- Have you had to convince a team to work on a project they weren’t thrilled about? How did you do it?
Follow-up questions will also be detailed. You may be asked what you did, what you said, how you reacted or how you felt.
After passing Round 1, don’t get on a pedestal or in a comfort zone. The questions of second time interviewers are focused on the company, industry trends, market drivers and competition.
During your second visit, you’ll also meet new interviewers; second interviews include meeting higher-level people in the company. Higher-level interviewers are more likely to be unskilled but they’re more comfortable interviewing and asking unorthodox questions.
Remember they have heard good things about you (that’s why you are there) and expect you’re a strong candidate, but they will still have to be convinced.
Do not think that the second interview is just to sign, seal and deliver; do not fool yourself.
“Show Me the Money”
Finally during second round interviews you may be questioned about your salary expectations, and negotiations may start.
PRESENTATION AS PART OF THE INTERVIEW:
A high percentage of interviews require presentations on a topic and this is typically dined in a specific time slot of either 10, 15 or 30 minutes. To pass this part of the process a candidate must keep to the time allocated, going over time does not impress and can be taken as negative interviewing.
Do not read a presentation; this is where candidates seem to go aground. A presentation is a presentation, not a library reading or a speech!
The interview panel allocates time for questions on the presentation so an effective candidate must prepare “fall out” answers on the presentation. The ability to handle questions is hugely important to make the “cut”.
The candidate’s performance is scored on accurate analysis of information, quality of ideas and effective communication.
Finally employers and HR managers have many methods of interviewing they can deploy to find out as much as they can, so you should try to find out as much as you can on the process and the type of interviewing techniques employed. Never go in blind, thinking it’s a chat over a cup of tea!
Michelle Thomas is director of training with Michael Communications & Training Consultants www.michcom.ie.