As a military member, you are probably used to routine, formalities and knowing what to expect when communicating with those of higher ranks. However, once you return to the civilian workplace, the game changes. You may think you know what to expect from an interview, but things are constantly changing, and often as a direct result of technology, streamlined.
These changes from the traditional interview structure and resume-based questions are becoming more common during the hiring process, and for veterans who have not been job searching for a while, may come as a bit of shock. Many companies are no longer just hiring for the most qualified candidate, but also for the candidate who best fits with the company’s culture.
What you can almost always expect is to need a well-crafted resume and cover letter in order to reach the interviewing stages. But once you hand in those two documents, all bets are off the table. The following information breaks down the most common types of interview set-ups and the various types of questions you should expect.
An article on Job Interview Board’s website provides an outline of common interviewing set-ups. This list includes:
This typically means the interviewer is sitting behind a desk and asking you questions about your resume, past experience, professional goals and more.
This is similar to the basic interview, but may be in a more casual setting, such as board room or lounge. You’ll be interviewed one-on-one by multiple employees with various ranks at the company. At the end, someone might take you on a tour of the building and further introduce you to the staff.
Group interviews are not one-on-one, and typically have anywhere between two to eight other candidates. There may be one or two interviewers who facilitate a group discussion and ask questions to all the candidates at large.
Panel interviews are similar to the rotating cast style, except everyone will most likely be in the room at once. It is the opposite of a group interview, you are the only candidate but there are several people asking you questions and contributing to the discussion.
There are a wide variety of categories that different questions can fall under, but as this Talent Management post describes, the following four categories of questions are the most common:
Cultural fit questions may seem like random questions, and are used to evaluate your personality and mannerisms. They may include questions about outside hobbies, your reactions to certain situations, or what sort of leadership you prefer to work under. There is usually no wrong or right answer, but it doesn’t hurt to research the company’s culture beforehand to see what their current staff makeup is like, and to evaluate for yourself how you might fit in.
Thought process questions are asked to evaluate your thinking processes and how you are able to work through problems on the spot. They often have no right answer and may seem ridiculous, such as “how many bricks were used in building the Great Wall of China?” The interviewer is not looking for you to give the right answer, but wants to hear you talk the solution out, and listen in on your thinking process. In these cases, the only immediate wrong answer is “I don’t know.”
The best way to identify a behavioral question is if it begins with “tell me about a time when…”
These questions guide you into telling a story about how you accomplished a task at work, learned to overcome obstacles, dealt with a difficult person, etc. The point is to evaluate your previous experiences and how you are able to relate them to the current job.
Skills-based questions are a sneaky way to test some of your skills that may translate into the workplace. Similar to thought-process questions, there is usually no answer. They are asked to see if you have the skills employers want. A question asked might be “How do you handle last-minute changes?” In this case, the employer might be evaluating if you have the ability to adapt in the workplace when unforseen challenges come up.
While it’s impossible to anticipate everything that a company may throw at you during the interview stages, some interviews are even created to throw you off your guard, you should always research as much as you can about the company before going in. Sites such as Glassdoor can give your better insight into the format the interview will take and provide examples of the questions that have been previously asked. If you know someone who has interviewed at the same company, it never hurts to reach out to them and to try and get a better of what to expect.