Companies have been hiring people for hundreds of years, they should have the process perfected by now, right? Unfortunately, hiring involves people, and any interaction between people is necessarily complex and inexact.
Over the years, questions asked during interviews changed. For example, it was once common to ask a female candidate if she was married, or when she planned to have children. It is now illegal to do this.
For a long time, companies have been using behavioral based interviewing. The rationale is that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. So, to find out how a potential employee will act when they disagree with their supervisors instructions, they may be asked about the last time they disagreed with their current supervisor. If they talk about how they researched the literature and presented a case for their idea, or how they requested to explore their plan on their own time, they provide proof of their ability to work constructively with a team.
Other changes in interviews and interview styles are coming as well, as a result of economic and technological changes. Now that it’s a hiring manager’s market, organizations can be more selective. They want not only someone who can do the job, and will do the job, but someone who will fit the corporate culture and stay with the company for a long time. The article Latest Trends in Interview Questions: The “It” Factor is the “Fit” Factor” talks about how today’s organizations are more concerned with how well new employees will fit into the existing organization.
A recent article, What Chief Executives Really Want talks about a recent study of 1500 CEOs (conducted by IBM’s Institute for Business Values), in which they were asked about the most important leadership competency for the future of their organization. With the increasing complexity of modern business, CEOs are looking for people who can disrupt the status quo, change existing business models, and break organizational paralysis. They will be asking interview questions about entrepreneurial experience and outside-the-box thinking.
Employers are getting pickier because they can. So, potential employees have to interview smarter and be more prepared as well. Do your homework on the company, and learn what their mission and values are. Talk to people who work, or did work, at that company to find out what it’s really like. Prepare answers that address questions about how well your personality and work style match the corporate culture. If they ask “What kind of work environment would maximize your positive impact on the company overall?”, you need to have done your homework to know if they value teamwork or independence, collaboration or leadership.
The more you prepare, the better you will do in the interview, and the more confident you will be that this is the right company for you. Win-win!
This article was written by Lisa M. Balbes, Ph.D. of Balbes Consultants. Lisa is a scientific communication consultant and author of: “Nontraditional Careers for Chemists,” published by Oxford University Press (2007).