Interview Job Search

Interview Tips & Techniques

Receiving an invitation to interview is a mini victory in and of itself, but if you want to win the battle for the job, you’ll need to be more prepared than any other candidate. Knowing the prominent interview techniques available can help candidates get ready, but remember, it’s unlikely the interviewer will select one style and use it exclusively. Most interviewers will settle on some combination of the following types of interviews:

Traditional Overview:
The Traditional format puts both the interviewer and the job candidate at ease because both parties generally know what to expect. Standard questions such as “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and “How would a past supervisor describe you?” are almost mandatory. Traditional questions invite the candidate to paint a positive picture of themselves, after which most interviewers will ask follow up questions to dig deeper to find a more balanced truth.Traditional Interview Tips: Because Traditional interview questions are well known, most candidates will be prepared for them. Resist the urge to recite canned answers you think the interviewer wants to hear, and instead provide thoughtful responses with examples that show the interviewer who you are and how you are right for the job. So no, don’t say that your biggest weakness is perfectionism or that you push yourself too hard. Rather, talk about an area or skill that you’ve genuinely struggled with and the steps you’ve taken to overcome the challenge.

Sample interview questions:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Start with your most recent position and walk me through your resume.
    (Often used by unprepared interviewers!)
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What kind of work do you most enjoy?
  • Describe your ideal supervisor.
  • Do you prefer working with a team or on your own?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Do you consider yourself a leader?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Directive Overview:
The goal of a Directive (also called Structured) interview is to extract similar information from all candidates so that the interviewer can more fairly assess candidates based on the same set of criteria. Questions are prepared beforehand and the interviewer typically takes notes to document the candidate’s answers. The focus is on the candidate’s qualifications and relevant experience rather than personality and cultural fit.Directive Interview Tips: The Directive style allows for more parity between candidates and thus may be favored by corporations with strict guidelines for the hiring process. It may also be used in an initial screening of candidates. The leading style of questioning is designed to elicit specific information from candidates – so be ready to provide it. Prepare by revisiting the specifics of your recent achievements. Get to the point with your answers, but don’t leave out supporting details. Remember, this type of interview is about qualifying your skills and experience, so use your answers to provide evidence that you can do the job.

Sample interview questions:

  • What is your quota for the current year? What did you achieve in the previous quarter?
  • How many calls do you make per day in your current/most recent position?
  • How many people do you manage?
  • Do you have experience with Salesforce CRM?
  • Have you worked with an iPad as a sales tool?
  • How many years have you been calling on C-level hospital executives?
Behavioral Overview:
Based on the idea that past behavior is the best indicator of future performance, the behavioral interview prompts the candidate to recount detailed descriptions of past events and accomplishments related to their career. Behavioral interviewers aim to extract specifics about a candidate’s involvement in and contributions to any relevant achievements listed on their resume. They may also ask about past situations not mentioned on the resume.Behavioral Interview Tips: To prepare for Behavioral interview questions, think back on your recent career and identify several noteworthy accomplishments (and at least one failure) that you may quickly draw upon in your interview. Review sample behavioral interview questions and practice answering them using your pre-selected examples (you may discover you need to have a few more examples in mind). The interviewer will be looking for your individual contributions so be sure to speak as “I” and not “we,” even if your given example was a team project.

Sample interview questions:

  • Describe a time when you were able to build a relationship with an initially hostile prospect or customer.
  • Describe a time when you weren’t able to win over a prospect. What do you think you could have done differently?
  • Tell me about a time you were tasked with defining a strategy for achieving results. What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a time when management asked you to change your priorities or focus.
  • Describe a time when you were given direction you did not agree with.
  • Describe a situation, with a prospect or with a colleague, where you adapted your communication style to make a connection.
SOARA / STAR(Situation, Objective, Actions, Results, Aftermath) / (Situation, Task, Action, Result)Overview:
An extension of Behavioral interviewing, the SOARA or STAR technique prompts the candidate to recount the specific details of their past involvement in relevant business situations. More than simply asking the candidate to describe a situation, successful execution of the technique will trigger the candidate to share details related to objectives, actions, and results.SOARA/STAR Interview Tips: SOARA or STAR-based interview questions will help candidates draw a more complete picture of how they have conducted themselves in past situations. As with the Behavioral interview, the best way to prepare for the SOARA or STAR interview is to think back on your career and identify notable examples that you can draw upon to answer a variety of questions. Even if the interviewer doesn’t prompt you with the specific SOARA/STAR questions, it’s smart to think through the acronyms as you answer the broader question.

Sample interview questions:

  • Describe a challenging situation you faced in your recent sales career.
  • What was your goal during that time?
  • What steps did you take to reach your objective?
  • How did your team/manager/customers react?
  • How did your choice and subsequent action impact your ability to reach quota?
  • Looking back, what would you have done differently?
  • How did that situation inform your thoughts on the sales process?
Case or Audition Overview:
In the Case or Audition interview, the candidate will be asked to demonstrate their skills rather than simply talk about them. The candidate may be presented with a simulated business scenario or “case” about which they are encouraged to ask questions and gather data to fully understand the situation before walking the interviewer through the steps they would take to solve the problem. A brainteaser or riddle may also serve as a “case.” Frequently used by consulting firms, the Case interview technique applied to a sales position might require the candidate to prepare and perform a sales presentation for the interviewer or interviewing team.Case Interview Tips: The key to excelling at the Case interview is to ask enough questions to fully understand the “case” or situation being presented. Presumably, if you know your industry, you’ll be able to talk about the case and hopefully solve it in a way that impresses the interviewer. Check sites like Glassdoor and Café Pharma for clues about what to expect, and then practice your answers for various scenarios.

Sample interview questions:

  • How would you recommend a pharmaceutical company go about evaluating the pros and cons of acquiring a given biotech company. (McKinsey case interview example)
  • One of the largest healthcare groups in your territory has instituted a no-see policy. How do you continue to get information to physicians?
  • Sell me a bridge.
  • Prepare a presentation on one of our best selling products.
  • Your nephew is running a lemonade stand over his spring break. After selling only 3 cups on Monday, he asks you for help. What do you recommend? (Reportedly asked by McKinsey
Stress Overview:
The stress interview involves subjecting a candidate to an uncomfortable situation and evaluating how they handle it. The interviewer may create the stressful circumstance by making the candidate wait an hour or more for the interview to begin, by insulting the candidate, allowing long pauses after a candidate’s answer, or tactlessly asking stress-inducing questions about a layoff or an admitted area of weakness. Unconventional questions such as brainteasers and riddles may also be used as part of the stress technique.Stress interview tips: The stress interview is used when the interviewer wants to see how a candidate operates under pressure, so never let them see you sweat. No matter what happens, remain calm and keep your composure. Answer questions honestly and don’t let silence intimidate you. If given a brain teaser, don’t focus on getting the “right” answer, rather walk the interviewer through your thought process and try to convey that you enjoy the challenge.

Sample interview questions:

  • Companies hold onto their top performers regardless of economic trends. So, why were you let go?
  • Why didn’t you make your quota in Q2 of 2011?
  • Your numbers aren’t all that impressive. (Silence)
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you? (Reportedly asked by Zappos)
  • You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do? (Reportedly asked at Google)

 


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