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Typical Interview Styles and Questions

An interview is much like a final examination. You are not prepared for this experience unless you have anticipated the questions. If you know the questions, you can prepare the appropriate responses. Listed below are typical interview questions. Write out responses for these questions. Written responses will force you to organize your thoughts and allow you to critique your replies.

The interview questions are divided into two groups: behavioral and traditional.

Behavioral Style Interview Questions

These questions always seek to identify past experiences. To determine which questions to ask, the recruiter first identifies those skills and abilities needed to successfully perform the job.

The philosophy behind this style of interview is that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. This has become a very popular and widely used interview style. Expect more and more recruiters to use this style of interview. This style of interviewing may also be referred to as the STAR method: S ituation or T ask, A ction you took, R esults you achieved.

To prepare for a behavioral interview, evaluate the position. List the skills and abilities needed for the job. Select the five most important. Then think of three examples that show how you have used each of those five skills or abilities well. For each example, provide a description of the situation, the people involved, tell what happened, and explain the result. That means that you should have 15 'short stories' about how you have used your special skills. At the same time, think of one example when you didn't use those skills well. That is five more stories. Take time to determine what you learned about yourself from that negative experience. Well-trained recruiters will look for these negative experience, or what they call 'contrary evidence,' to create a balanced picture of a candidate.

Recruiters who use this style are trained to be patient. Even though these are difficult questions, they will wait until you have given an answer before they move on to another question. It's O.K. to take a few moments to think before answering. If you are not prepared, the silence before your answer may seem like an eternity. As you anticipate the questions and prepare your 'stories,' there will be less silent time.

Listed below are sample questions which are frequently asked in behavioral interviews. After evaluating the position for which you are applying, attempt to create your own behavioral questions based on these ideas.

Traditional Style Interview Questions

Recruiters who are not yet using the behavioral interview process use the traditional style. Generally, the recruiter will ask about your educational background, past work experience, extra-curricular activities, and outside interests and activities.

 

Information used by permission from Indiana University-Southeast.  

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