Interviews of Today

November 15, 2016

Preparing for an interview ain’t what it used to be. Modern-day job seekers must be prepared to do more research and answer some seriously off-beat questions.

Hani Jaber, talent manager with Chorus Executive, says one of the most important shifts in recent years is one of attitude; being prepared to play the role of interviewer as well as candidate.

"The journey to finding a new job isn’t just about finding something to do nine-to-five, it’s about finding an organisation and a manager you feel comfortable working with for the next two to three years,” Jaber says. "Job interviews are just as much about helping you decide whether the organisation is right for you.”

Sue Parker, founder of CV Dynamix, says the change in attitude from aspiring employee to one of a future partner with the organisation is essential for today’s job-seekers.

“When a candidate approaches a business or hiring company with the attitude that they are an equal person of value, their whole way of communicating will change, and they will get a better result," Parker says. "The biggest thing you can do as a candidate is to realise that it's a two-way street.”

Jaber says many basic job-interview requirements are just as true now as they ever were – familiarity with your own CV, knowledge of the organisation and an ability to demonstrate your suitability for the role – but many organisations expect more from their top tier candidates.

"Understanding what the business does and what the role entails are still critical for any interview, but it has also become increasingly important to research the organisation’s culture, values and goals,” Jaber says.

Liz Ryan, Forbes contributor and CEO of Human Workplace, goes so far as to say job seekers should approach organisations with a "pain letter" detailing how their skills and experience can help solve business problems.

Of course you’ll need to be ready to answer the inevitable questions with a positive spin on your greatest strength/weakness and where you see yourself in five years.

But a recent survey by online careers site Glassdoor suggests a growing trend toward oddball brain-teaser type questions to vet candidates. So, how do you prepare for curveballs like "Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?"

According to Jaber, you can’t. He says way-out questions may help interviewers assess things like cultural fit, individual values, or thinking style, but there was simply no way to prepare for them.

"Preparation is beside the point," Jaber says. "At the end of the day, you want to answer these questions just like any questions you are asked; as honestly as you can."

Parker is damning of unorthodox questions and says they’ve been proven not to work. But she suggests candidates can turn them to their advantage.

“In some cases the question can be flipped around to concentrate on the competencies required for the job,” Parker says. “These types of questions can also be useful in your own assessment of the organisation.”

So while giving due consideration to what you would do if you found a penguin in the freezer, you might also ask yourself: “What does that question tell me about whether or not this is the right workplace for me?”

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