Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Adapting to Interviews

As all denizens of the web know, there are thousands of pages that list the most frequently asked interview questions. These are very valuable to job seekers—as far as they go. If you have little or no idea what interviewers might ask you then, by all means, prepare answers to as many of the questions listed on these sites as you can.

However, once you have begun a series of interviews with various potential employers be sure to start recording their questions after each session. The patterns that you discern in these questions are your best guide for preparing for subsequent interviews.

For example, in my own line of work there are still interviewers who ask about one's principal weaknesses (and you should certainly have answers for oldies like that) but almost all ask questions that relate to issues that include the following:
  • How do you handle stress?
  • How do you handle conflict with others? (I have yet to encounter anyone asking about how to handle conflict amongst others.)
  • What kinds of responsible judgments have you made about cases with which you have been involved?
  • How do you handle cases involving domestic violence or abuse?
In other words, interviewers want answers relating to issues that they perceive to be problematic in the places in which they have worked. In my job, it's mostly about social skills, and the emphasis appears to be on somewhat pathological situations.

Assuming that the credentials you indicate on your résumé were what got you the interview how can you demonstrate that you are able to handle yourself well in an actual job? My answer is to record interview questions and prepare honest, direct answers from your own experience.

Good luck.