So you’ve got an interview coming up—good for you! They really aren’t anything to worry about as long as you are prepared. And the truth is, this is just as much a chance for you to get to know that company as it is for them to evaluate you. You obviously want this to be a good fit for you, so make sure you write down as many questions as you can possibly think of as you prepare.
But what can you expect once you get there? To be honest, anything and everything.
There are so many different interview styles, but there are also common threads through most of them. Read on for what to expect in a job interview.
The Ice Breaker
This is about as much of a sure thing as you’re going to get when it comes to a job interview. You’re going to be asked a very open-ended “Tell me about yourself” kind of question.
Because this is almost certainly going to be the way the interview (or at least phone interview) will open, you should have an idea of what you’re going to say. You don’t want a canned response, per se, but at the very least you should know where you’re going with this. And most importantly, know that the interview isn’t interested in your first prom experience or what you had for breakfast, but rather what experience you have in your background that pertains to the job for which you are applying.
As job board site Monster.com notes, “Define what you do as it relates to the job, think about three to five past experiences that are relevant to the job at hand and try to quantify in terms of time, money or people. Then list three to five strengths you have that are pertinent to this job (experiences, traits, skills, etc.).”
Much of the facts verification will go on outside of the interview, either before or after. It depends on the company as to how detailed they get, from checking your college GPA to verifying all of your past employment dates. Some will even invest in new hire background checks with companies like ShareAble for Hires to screen incoming employees, which looks into your financial history and criminal records.
Be certain, though, that some verification of your past employment, etc., will be done during the interview.
The Behavioral Questions
These have taken the interview world by storm, and they can be a bit intimidating. If you’re ready for them, though, they shouldn’t cause any undue stress. As this article by thebalancecareers.com notes, “These questions indicate how you may handle similar situations at a new job. An example of a behavioral question is, “Describe the toughest challenge you faced at your last job. How did you handle it?”
Review your resume ahead of time and think of concrete examples of projects that you had a hand in helping to succeed, etc., and any quantifiable data you can add is always a good thing.
Curveballs come in all shapes and sizes, as it’s not the interviewer’s job to tell you exactly what to expect. In fact, this could be strategic on his or her part. You might think you’re just meeting with the HR manager or the hiring manager but when you arrive you find out the CEO “just happens to be in town and wants to meet you.” Hey, it happens. Sometimes what you think you will be an individual interview will turn into a group interview.
Just take a deep breath and be confident in your preparation. And if you’re not feeling brave, fake it ‘til you make it.
Like behavioral questions, these are becoming more and more popular in interviews. The interviewer will think of a hypothetical situation that you could ultimately run into if you were to get the position, and ask you what you’d do in this scenario. An example might be, “What if you’re confident that a coworker’s suggestion for how to handle a project would be a disaster? How would you handle that?”
The Closing Questions
Just as with the icebreaker, you will almost certainly be asked if you have any questions before you leave. Be sure to ask some, as the alternative shows apathy. However, don’t ask just for the sake of asking either. Make sure you’ve thought of some legitimate questions you need answered beforehand. Ideally, these will show that you’ve also done quite a bit of research.
Interviews can be anxiety-provoking but they are so much less so when you are prepared. Be ready for any (or all!) scenarios that we’ve mentioned and you could very well get the job in no time.