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Different Types of Interviews

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Prepare for Interviewing
Different Types of Interviews
Typical Questions & Questions to Ask the Recruiter
Dress for Success

Behavioral Interviews

"Tell me about a team experience in which one member did not meet expectations." This question demonstrates the type of question common in behavioral interviews. Based on the premise that the best way to predict future behavior is to evaluate past behavior, this form of questioning allows the recruiter to assess your abilities based on what you have already done.

Typical Behavioral Interview Questions

S.T.A.R. Response Style for Behavioral Questions

In responding to behavioral questions, first set up the Situation or Task which probably stems from an item you have listed on your resume (i.e. team project, work experience, community volunteer project, class project or other experience), then describe the specific action you developed or took because of the situation or task, and close with the a description of the results—good or bad—including what you learned from the experience.

Prepare to provide detail regarding what-where-why of past performances:

The behavioral interviewer has been trained to objectively collect and evaluate information, and works from a profile of desired behaviors that are needed for success on the job. Because the behaviors a candidate has demonstrated in previous similar positions are likely to be repeated, you will be asked to share situations in which you may or may not have exhibited these behaviors. Your answers will be tested for accuracy and consistency. If you are an entry-level candidate with no previous, related experience, the interviewer will look for behaviors in situations similar to those of the target position.

Case Interviews

"Simply put, a case interview is the analysis of a business plan or situation. Unlike most other interview questions, it is an interactive process. Your interviewer will present you with a business problem and ask you for your opinion. Your job is to ask the interviewer logical questions that will permit you to make a detailed recommendation. The majority of case interviewers don't have a specific answer that you, the candidate, are expected to give. What the interviewer is looking for is a thought process that is both analytical and creative (what consultants love to call "out-of-the-box" thinking). Specific knowledge of the industry covered by the case question is a bonus but not necessary. An understanding of the business models and processes as well as global business experience is helpful for success."*

"Many management consulting firms, especially the strategy firms (such as McKinsey and Bain) love to give prospective employees a problem to solve during the course of an interview. The case questions are designed to help the interviewer screen candidates and determine which people really have what it takes to be a real, live, card-carrying management consultant."**

Question categories can be identified as:

* Source: Vault Guide to the Case Interview, 5th edition, Mark Asher, Eric Chung, and the staff of Vault, 2002.
** Source: Ace Your Case III - Practice Makes Perfect, WetFeet Insider Guide, 2nd edition, 2003.

Brainteaser Interviews

Part of the philosophy behind brainteaser interviews is that IQ is all that matters. Bill Gates' hiring philosophy is based on the fact that a smart person can be trained to do anything. Intelligence is valued over skills or experience. Therefore, logic puzzles, riddles, hypothetical questions and trick questions have become commonplace in computer industry and the fast-paced consulting business interviews.

Questions may include:

"It's all about thinking outside the box - just make certain you know what kind of box."** Other recruiters will ask unique brainteaser questions during a "typical" interview. It is important to stay focused and be adept at answering all types of questions. Keep your poise and sense of humor - and think carefully about the question. Recruiters are often evaluating your skills, creativity, and ability to think on your feet.***

* Source: How Would You Move Mount Fuji?: Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle - How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers, William Poundstone, Little Brown & Co., 2003.
** Source: Paul Boutin, Wired.
*** Source: How to Ace the Brain Teaser Interview, John Kador, McGraw-Hill, 2005.

Telephone Interviews

Telephone interviews often precede in-person interviews, and are used as a screening tool to filter out potential candidates for a position. In an employer's point of view, they are an efficient way to further narrow the candidate pool to those who will best fit the position. The first step is to make sure you know the organization and position very well. Besides that, you will want to keep the following items handy (and preferably set up in a private, quite place where you will be able to concentrate):

Although it may seem trivial, it may be helpful to dress in a professional manner as a way to psychologically assume the right mindset. Do not slouch or roll your eyes at any point during the interview, and remember that smiling will single-handedly enhance the tone of your voice, giving warmth and energy, which can be harder to convey over the phone!

During the Interview

On to Typical Questions & Questions To Ask the Recruiter

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