By Maureen Koenen, Co-Chair, Marketing Committee
Most of us feel that by the time we have secured an interview, we are “halfway home” along the road to renewed employment. We may arrive at the interview well prepared: We have done our due diligence and researched the company online; we may have looked up its current Standard and Poor’s rating; we might have googled the executive management team to familiarize ourselves with their goals and company mission statement. We may even have visited the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile to raise our own comfort level with his/her employee background and work experience.
What we don’t know, and couldn’t know unless we have had the good fortune to talk at length with someone who recently interviewed with the same hiring team, is the interviewing method or style they will use. Sometimes it comes down to the personal style of the interviewer, though many times, usually in more evolved companies, there may be a sanctioned or mandated corporate approach. But regardless of which method we face at the interview—a personal style or a corporately driven technique—it is best to familiarize ourselves with the most common approaches.
Two major interviewing practices are cited below. Visit the linked sources for a more expansive explanation and numerous sample interview questions and answers.
Behavorial – A behavioral interview utilizes a style wherein the job applicant is asked to give examples of situations in which he/she has personally been involved that demonstrate a particular trait or skill that is of interest to the interviewer.
Example: “Give a specific example of a time when you had to address an angry customer. What was the problem and what was the outcome?”
Situational – There are two types of situational interviews. In one, you are given a specific set of circumstances (read: challenges) and asked how you would create a positive outcome. In the other, you are asked to provide a negative situation from your own experience and to detail how you successfully resolved it.
Example: “What is the most difficult situation you have faced?”
One final note to consider is that some interviewers are “winging it” and have no concept of the difference between a behavioral and a situational interview. In those cases, you should guide the conversation in the direction you are most comfortable. By doing so, you will put the interviewer at ease, gain his/her confidence, and subtly show that you are indeed the right person for the job, no question—behavioral or situational—about that!