10 Psychological Tips to Ace your Next Interview!

by Cohen, Sharon Tuesday, June 22, 2010
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• Do your dread interview questions?
• Never get call-backs for the 2nd Interviews?
• Want to Increase your Interview Success?

The Psychology behind the interview process is both complex and fascinating. If understood and used correctly, it can add a tremendous boost for job-seekers. As a Career Management Professional, my role is that of a go-between who mediates between the employers and candidates. I'd like to share what I've observed about the Psychology of Interviews...

As a licensed, Psychological Counselor and Career Transition Specialist my work is interdisciplinary and includes Psychology, Counseling, Human Resources, Recruitment and Career Education. I work with both candidates and employers to faciliate the hiring process. With 600+ MBA’s on my career caseload each semester, I have the unique opportunity to observe and examine the latest interview and hiring trends. Sometimes employers are frustrated since they are not able to find the type of candidate they are seeking. Alternately, highly-qualified candidates may be discouraged at the lack of ‘call-backs. These candidates may receive plenty of initial interviews, but never make it to the second and third round of interviewing. Each side would be well served, by putting themselves in the others’ shoes. If recruiters do not clearly define their hiring needs, they cannot formulate effective candidate selection processes or interviews. If candidates do not clearly understand their abilities and limitations, they may find themselves in irrelevant interviews or in over their heads. The process of selecting the “right” candidate is a pressure cooker on both sides.

What I've concluded is that candidates shouldn't focus on which interview questions are popular at any given time. Instead, they should learn about the psychological patterns or drivers which underlie interview questions. Often, candidate selection is more than just an impartial assessment of education, degrees, GPA, qualifications or even experience. Sometimes the hiring decisions I observe are truly perplexing. Rather than trying to create answers for the top 50 interview questions or fretting about what you will be asked, I'd encourage you to address the employers’ Psychological Drivers.

Here is my list of Key Psychological Drivers (linked to common interview questions)

1. Confidence and Assertiveness: ie: what are your strengths/weakness, why should I hire you? What are your salary expectations?

2. Interpersonal Skills: Here is an example of...How would you communicate this issue? Describe the worst coworker/boss you have ever had – how did you deal with the interpersonal conflict? Walk me through the process.

3. Decision Making & Problem Solving: Tell me about a time when you attempted something and it failed/succeeded...Here is a list of activities, sort them by priority.

4. Conflict Resolution: Tell me about a time when you had to resolve a conflict, interact with VP’s etc...How would you deal with

5. Critical Thinking: What would you do if you were given the task of … Describe your process and your rationale...

6. Leadership: Tell me about a time when you managed others? What did you learn about leadership, yourself? Provide examples. Have you ever “inherited” existing staff, what did you do to get buy-in from this staff?

7. Motivation: How do you stay current in your field, provide specific examples? Why do you want to work for us?

8. Teamwork Abilities: Tell me about your last group project – what went well, what didn’t.

9. Planning & Organization: Here is a list of 5 typical daily tasks, organize and prioritize them and tell me your rationale.

10. Professionalism: How would you define and operationalize professionalism? Provide examples...

Create detailed answers to these Psychological Drivers. Think like an attorney, you will need to quote precedents, examples, and provide detailed scenarios. Just saying you have a particular skill is meaningless. Do not just provide the standard, formulaic answers. Instead, allay the employer concerns by truly understanding what they are asking.

Need more support? Haven’t interviewed in years?

Get ahead of the competition and seek out interview coaching from an experienced, career counselor. Ideally, your counselor should be well versed in job-task analysis, formal, candidate selection, candidate recruitment, labor market analysis and candidate prescreening/interviewing. If they work closely with employers in the candidate-selection arena, they can offer interview coaching for specific business sectors. There is no substitution for thorough employer research, and well crafted interview answers. I’d love to hear how my readers are handling the interview process. Feel free to leave your comments and/or questions on this blogsite.