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What to expect once you’ve landed the interview

By Jim Lanzalotto
March 28, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Forming an effective and productive team depends heavily upon the personality traits hiring managers feel will best complement their teams, and finding the ideal mix of personalities begins with the interview process. Job candidates must be prepared to handle tough questions that reveal a lot about their character as well as their past experiences. Here are some points to consider when you’ve made it through the resume screening process and find yourself face to face with a hiring manager.

Behavioral interviewing

Behavioral interviewing, defined by The Wall Street Journal as an assessment technique focusing on what candidates have done in the past, not what they might do in the future, is quickly becoming the norm in offices across the country. While some companies have just started implementing this method into their interviewing processes, many giants, like AT&T Inc. and Accenture Ltd., have been practicing it for more than a decade. Therefore, today’s job seeker must be amply prepared to overcome tough questions during interviews.

Strong interviewing skills, combined with the ability to field situational questions, propel job seekers to the next round in behavioral interviewing. When in the hot seat, candidates should not try to guess what the hiring manager wants to hear. This is the interview of the past. Today, candidates being themselves will help the employer best understand their personalities and determine whether they’re a good fit.

Before heading to an interview, job seekers should research the company just as they always have, but more importantly, they should review the proposed job description closely for clues on what types of behavior-based questions may be asked. Job seekers should develop responses that demonstrate past situations, actions taken and positive results. Many times, the questions asked are open-ended, which can lead to rambling. Therefore, be sure to stick to effective yet concise responses that address the problem, solution and result.

Here are some behavior-based questions that may come up during interviews:

  • Tell me about a time when you used persuasion to convince someone to see things your way.

  • Can you think of a time in which you had to comply with a policy or procedure that you did not agree with? Tell me about it.

  • Describe a time in which you had to go beyond your job description to get a task completed successfully.

  • How do you normally deal with conflict? Provide an example.

  • Do you have any systems that you rely on regularly to help manage your time and priorities?

  • Tell me about a time when you might have failed to make a deadline. What did you learn from this experience?

To delve into candidates’ personalities further, hiring managers might create hypothetical workplace situations to judge coping abilities. As such, candidates should be prepared to answer behavioral questions, such as how they would resolve a conflict with another employee or handle risk management situations.

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