The Interview: What do They Want to Know?

By: Glen

I had my first interview for a full-time position during spring break of my last semester of college. I had read pro tips for interviewing, had a mock interview, and had a previous internship interview at a large company. My best friend had given me his big takeaways from his 9 month circuit of interviews before landing his first job. I thought I had all the knowledge I needed to perform in an interview situation.

I was wrong.

There are a few different types of interview: the unstructured interview, the semi-structured interview, and the structured interview. You will almost always see a semi-structured or structured interview. In these interviews, the interviewer will have a specific set of questions prepared, and will generally not stray from those questions. Whether or not they do is the difference between a structured interview and a semi-structured interview.

Why is it important to know how an interview is structured? The reason it is preferred to have structure to the interview is because each question is designed to answer certain questions about the potential employee. The employer wants to find (or reaffirm) that a potential hire has specific qualities, skills, and work styles that fit with the position.

Before my first interview, I had taken a personality/work style assessment for the employer I wished to work for. My set of scores got me an interview, and some of the questions they asked me were specifically related to the scores I received. However, I was unaware of this until the last piece of the interview.

Luckily for me, I had a trained interviewer working with me, who was willing to be direct when my answers to their initial questions did not quite answer their questions. It was then that I learned I could have done much better in the interview if I understood what answers they were trying to get from me with the questions they asked.

Here is my challenge to you: before you interview, understand what qualifications they are looking for that might not be possible to address in your resume. Things like teamwork, handling problems, making decisions, and leadership are just a few of the possibilities. Use your resources! The recruiter, and the job posting are good starts. You will feel much more prepared if you have an idea of what is coming up.

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