Interview Techniques: What Job Seekers Should Know

Updated: November 02, 2010

As a job seeker, it is imperative that you are prepared to answer interview questions that allow you to stand out and be noticed, while displaying your skills and experiences in a credible way. Employers have become more savvy in their interviewing techniques and are moving away from the old, traditional interviewing styles and towards more progressive situational and behavioral styles. What is the difference?

Traditional interviews often do not cover enough ground - especially under the condition where the prospective employer has very little data to use to evaluate you. When asked questions such as, "Tell me a little bit about what you've done in the past," you have an open road to go down and can do so in any way you'd like. You can paint a picture with canned responses that put you in the best light possible.

Situational interviews are slightly better because the prospective employer will ask you to describe how you might handle a certain situation. Fortunately, this approach allows you to speak in the hypothetical world. You can talk about what you might do in a given situation, rather than what you did in the past.

Behavioral interviews are believed to be more effective because the prospective employer asks you to describe how you reacted under certain conditions. This technique allows you to talk about not only what you've accomplished, but how you went about reaching a particular goal.

Because behavioral questions are asking about past experience, it is easier for the prospective employer to distinguish what you "have done" as opposed to "might do" at work. This is a huge benefit over other interviewing techniques. Rule of thumb for employers: If you want to know how well an individual will do in the future, find out how well they've done in the past. Traditional and situational questions do not provide this.

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