There are two major categories of job interviews
The first, “the screening interview” is used to screen someone in or out and the second, “the decision interview” is used for making the actual hiring decision. Usually each type of interview is conducted by a different kind of interviewer.
The Screening Interview
This type of interview is typically conducted by either a professional recruiter (or search firm representative) or a Human Resources specialist who is often a trained interviewer.
The screening interviewer’s job is not to decide if you are the best person for the job but to judge whether you come fairly close to a profile of the hypothetically ideal candidate they have created.
These interviewers tend to proceed in a logical, systematic fashion. Because they often must make a written report of their findings and their opinions, they collect facts. They know what information they need and will ask the right questions to get it, collecting and using facts to arrive at a conclusion that they can justify at a later date if necessary.
Be direct and concise in your replies and be sure you understand exactly what information they are looking for before answering a question. If you are not sure, restate the question and ask if you have it right. Wherever possible, frame your answers in a positive light as negative answers tend to induce probing and sometimes an adversarial atmosphere. Don’t give extra information unless you know that it will help you in the interview.
The Decision Interview
The decision interview is usually conducted by the immediate boss or by a person with the authority to hire you.
The boss is rarely a trained interviewer. This is both good news and bad news – good news because you will probably know more about interviewing than the interviewer and will be able, therefore, to control the interview. Its bad news in that the right questions are not asked and unexpected questions may be directed at you in what seems an illogical sequence.
The boss is usually interested in the following:
- Can you do whatever he/she wants done?
- Will you solve her/his problems? Are you motivated to do that?
- How do you fit in the organisation? Will she/he be comfortable seeing you every day?
This meeting with the boss, while an interview, is also a selling opportunity. To be successful, you need to be an attentive listener and observer using all of your senses to build rapport and to choose the words the boss will relate to when framing your questions and answers. In the absence of the direction that a trained interviewer gives, many interviewees make the mistake of reciting all of their skills and accomplishments. This approach pushes the responsibility for sorting through this mass of information for the relevant parts onto the boss and that’s a poor sales approach.
You need to ask questions to find out what the boss would like to have done and what problems need to be solved. Then you can choose from among your accomplishments, those that illustrate that you have solved similar problems.