The Joys of Interviewing

Inspired by this article about the 20 hardest interviews from business insider, I wanted share a few thoughts about interviewing.

Being back in school, the past two years I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of interviewing. From consulting, finance, general management, to tech, I feel like I’ve seen every type of interview question (even many of the interviews listed in the article). Further, I got a lot of perspective having been trained as an “official” interviewer when I was working (at GE), and having to conduct these dreaded interviews to others.

Obviously I will be over-simplifying by saying this, but in general I, personally, bucketize interviews into 4 types of questions:

1) Behavioral: “Tell me about a time…”

Helps the interviewer understand how someone works in various situations. Obviously it’s dependent on having good, interesting examples to draw from, but overall, the situations the interviewee picks, and how they tell the story can tell a lot about the person.

2) Technical: “What is XYZ?…”

This is partly demonstrating actual knowledge. Be it industry, technical, or just plain smarts, this helps separate the “talkers” and those who “know.”

3) Case: “A company wants to increase ABC…”

Notoriously used in consulting interviews, but used elsewhere too. Helps the interviewer understand how a candidate might frame, organize, and structure a problem/situation/challenge. I think it’s a great way to see how someone thinks about a problem…at the same time, too often I see people over-use the same “structure” for every situation…

4) Creative: Give me an idea/product about…

Demonstrates scope, vision, and even product/industry knowledge. Obviously ideas need to be able to be backed up by solid logic, but again shows the interviewer that you have an idea of things you want to accomplish and can back the ideas with reasonable logic. Personally, my favorite type of question…I probably have too many ideas 😛

The goal of an interview is to see if the candidate “fits” the position, in whatever way the interviewers deems so. Personally, I think that one SHOULD use all four types, at least in some minimal way, to comprehensively understand the candidate. But then again, the interview questions/answers are only one gauge of the process…the other non-spoken parts are just as, if not even more important: personality, interview/interviewee chemistry, presence, and most importantly…the weather (aka the mood of both the interview and  interviewee, [ya know, sometimes you are and not feelin’ it…that’s life])



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