Written by Abby Despins, Corporate Communication Manager at Schreiber Foods.
The day is finally here. You’ve spent months perfecting your resume, creating cover letters and following up with potential employers. And now you’ve gotten the most coveted call among all job seekers … the recruiter asking for an interview. Most students will jump for joy and then wait patiently until the day of the interview. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your job search. The hard work really starts now: preparing for the interview.
Before you hang up the phone with the recruiter, make sure you know what interview style the company uses. Some recruiters will offer up this information, others will not. Either way, don’t hang up without knowing what interview you’re showing up for.
Why? What many students don’t know is that there are several types of interviews. The company’s interview style will drastically change how you prepare. The most common include:
Structured and Patterned Interviews
Also called a repetitive interview, in structured interviews, potential employers ask every applicant the same questions to ensure that similar data is collected from all candidates.
Similarly, in patterned interviews, also called targeted interviews, interviewers ask each applicant questions that are targeting the same knowledge, skill or ability. Unlike structured interviews, questions can vary from applicant to applicant.
If you’re headed into a structured or patterned interview, ask the recruiter for some sample interview questions they may ask, or research potential questions online.
Behavioral interviews focus on identifying a specific situation and evaluating how the interviewee handled it. The theory here is that an interviewee’s past behavior will predict future behavior if they were to work for their company. Potential employers find these interviews valuable because they get to see the candidate thinking, solving and acting. They’ll ask you to tell them about situations you’ve handled in the past, such as:
• Give an example of how you set goals and achieve them.
• Give an example of how you worked on a team.
• Describe how you’ve handled a difficult situation.
In this method, you should use a STAR method to answer behavioral-based questions.
• S/T= Situation/Task: Paint a high level picture of what the situation looked like and then describe the context or background of the situation or task.
• A= Action: Describe what you did or did not do in that situation and how was it done. The majority of your answer should focus on your actions.
• R= Results: Describe what the end result of that situation was.
To prepare for behavioral interviews, think about some examples before the interview. How did you handle the situation? Who was involved? What was the outcome? Be prepared enough to give specific details about your experiences that demonstrate your knowledge, approach and personality.
Similar to behavioral interviews, this method tries to predict future behavior. The Interviewer will ask questions to elicit stories and examples that demonstrate skill and qualification levels. What differentiates situational interviews from behavioral interviews is that in situational interviews the interviewer will ask hypothetical questions (i.e. how would you handle this situation), such as:
• You have a deadline approaching and fear you will be unable to meet it. What do you do?
• A co-worker frequently leaves early when the boss is not around, and asks you to cover for him. What would you do?
• How would you handle it if you believed strongly in a recommendation you made in a meeting, but most of your co-workers shot it down?
In the interview, take the opportunity to weave in past experiences as you answer situational questions.
At Schreiber, we use a combination of behavioral-based and structured interviews. This means that we ask all candidates the same questions and look for previous examples on how they handled a situation. We’ve seen great success with this interview style and we can tell who’s prepared to give us examples of successes and challenges they’ve encountered throughout their careers – whether they have 20 years of experience, or classroom experience.
For more information about interviews, I encourage you to visit the UW-Green Bay Career Services’ resources page on interviewing. And as you’re planning to land your next interview, take a look at the careers we offer at Schreiber and get a peek into the Schreiber culture by connecting with us on Facebook and LinkedIn.