The Structure, Process of the Job Interview
There are two key components to a well conducted interview: the structure! process and the questioning technique. The interviewer will often use a process called the funnel technique, where, essentially, he or she will funnel and probe more and more to gather very specific details about what you did in a particular situation.
As you will find out, the interviewer will start with a broad question designed to elicit a specific example. E.g. ‘Describe to me a time where you helped a member of your team to improve their performance.’
Following this, the interviewer will gather further details, such as the circumstances, who was involved, when this was, where, what your role was and why were you involved. The interviewer will then move on to gathering information about what you did in the past – your actions, why you did them, and what other options you considered. They will want a step-by-step run-through of what you did.
Finally, the interviewer will want to know about the outcome or results of the situation. What sort of feedback did you get, what hard data have you got about the outcome, what did you learn, would you do anything differently if faced with a similar situation?
It’s important to remember this and to have it at the back of your mind for every interview. Framing your answers in these terms will help the interviewer to focus more quickly on the positive attributes you want to get across.
You can imagine that with this level of questioning and probing, it’s going to be difficult to make something up in the spur of the moment. And with all of this probing, the interviewer is not only collecting details of what you have done, they are also building confidence that you are being truthful in your responses.
It is this structure, the probing and the seeking of real examples of activity, which differentiates the competency-based approach from the more traditional Interview process. Please believe me that it is very difficult to invent answers in this situation – it shows! What you can do, based on familiarity with the structure, is prepare and present your examples in a way which helps the interviewer. This will also help you!
How will the Job Interview be Conducted?
Some companies will have a single interviewer, whilst others are likely to use two. Whilst this may at first seem intimidating, it is actually doing you a favour. Best practice is to use two interviewers, as it is a demanding job and taking notes whilst interviewing can be very difficult. Splitting the workload, therefore, makes it a more accurate and reliable process and reduces the chance of error creeping in.
Other organisations use a panel of interviewers. This is particularly popular in public sector organisations. Panels are typically made up of between three and five people representing different departments or interested parties. There may also be an HR representative in the interview. In a panel, there will usually be one person who chairs the process and the others will ask the questions.
It is usually a very formal process and from that point of view can be more intimidating, but the intention is the same as with a non-panel format.
A final way that a job interview may be conducted is over the telephone or using technology such as video conferencing. This approach is likely to be used if a role requires a lot of telephone interaction, such as a telesales position, or if, for logistical reasons, it is not possible to have a face-to-face interview.
If applying for a role that has an international dimension, for example, you may have an interview using video conferencing technology with interested parties who are unable to attend in person.
Finally, of course, the number of interviews you face may vary. Some organisations will use several interviews to start filtering down from many applicants to just a preferred few. Yet others will conduct several interviews, With each job interview focusing on just one or two competencies rather than on all at one go. This is becoming more popular with more senior roles, as the complexity of the job being applied for can make it difficult to explore everything at once – unless of course they were to interview you for several hours at a time!
Whatever the format of the interview, or whatever stage of the selection process It is being used, the same principles apply in terms of how to conduct yourself and make sure that you present yourself as well as possible.
Read my next post on Preparing For A Job Interview