*Say what you will about competency-based interviews (e.g. that they are ineffective, biased, and that only extroverts do well in them) but as a matter of fact they are widely used. And they can be tough. When I recently interviewed with one major investment bank I was astounded at how the interview went down. At one point I wondered whether this was still an interview or an interrogation. This was especially surprising to me since I applied to only a junior position, and here I was, having two 2-on-1 interviews, each about 30 minutes long.
In any case, this situation has really highlighted the importance of preparation. That’s why today I’m presenting to you a work-sheet for your pre-interview self-assessment. From my experience, employers’ questions will usually revolve around the following “dimensions”:
- Conflict Management
- Dealing with Problems
- Integrity (and Honesty)
What I suggest for pre-interview preparation is to go over all the information you have provided to the employer. That can include your CV and Cover Letter, but beware that any respective online form is at least potentially also in the interviewers’ hands. Scrutinise each activity from each of the above angles. This shouldn’t come too hard to you, but here is an example:
Assume you were the President of the Chess Society in your freshman-year at university. Briefly answer the following questions (in bullet-points), which any interviewer could quite possibly ask:
- In your position as the President of the Chess Society, when and how have you lead a group of people?
- I assume that as President of the Chess Society you had to work with your other committee members – how did you do that?
- Tell me about a situation when there was conflict among the Executive Committee of the Chess Club and how you, as the President, handled it?
- How did you deal with problems in your function as President of the Chess Society?
- Have you ever taken a creative approach to an issue when you were President of the Chess Society?
- How did you manage to multitask between school obligations and society obligations from the Chess Society?
- Can you tell me about a situation when you showed great flexibility as the President of the Chess Society?
- When was there a lack of integrity among the Chess Society, and how did you deal with it?
- Can you tell me about a time when you should have been more diligent in your work as the President of the Chess Society?
I recommend you to use bullet-points in answering your own questions, because you will then naturally avoid giving ‘canned answers’ in the actual interview. Nonetheless, it probably doesn’t hurt going over the preparation sheet I’ve compiled for you with a friend.
*: This is actually a repost of an older post of mine on my old blog. Nonetheless, I still believe it’s worthwhile reading!