Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
Behavioral Interview Questions preparation based in who is on the other side of the table?
Today I’m going to discuss a very important behavioral interview question, and it’ll only help you to do a bit of due diligence on this. This is part of a series of behavioral interview questions, which you must master in order to improve your chances in cracking interviews.
As an interview candidate we must face different kinds of people on the other side of the table. The million-dollar question is that does it really matter who is on the other side of the interview table. There can be many different opinions on this topic.
But in my opinion, it very much does, as we should use different strategies in dealing with different interviewers primarily based on factors such as their age, experience level, education, knowledge, subject matter expertise and so on.
Even though many strategies exist to deal with various kinds of interviewers, there is one thing that remains common and very important that, no matter who the interviewer is, he or she would like to be treated with proper respect. So, it’s an absolute must that you treat everyone on the other side of the table with respect. In fact, there is a chapter dedicated for this later in this book.
The biggest problem here is that most of these aforementioned factors will never be explicitly mentioned to you and you must rely purely on your speculations.
Just like pretty much every problem has a solution, this problem also has a partial solution in some cases. Many a times we already know in advance about who all are going to interview us, while at some other times we know the names of few key interviewers. All you should do is hit the web and find out about these possible interviewers, and at least you’ll know a good deal about them.
Following are some of the behavioral interview question categories into which interviewers can be divided based on several factors mentioned earlier in this chapter, and strategies to deal with them appropriately. Remember that it’s not possible for you to know about all the interviewers prior to the actual interview, so you still must master the art of quickly assessing interviewers based on your instincts.
Interview preparation based on age and experience
People older than you, having more experience than you
This is a tough nut to crack as you must be affirmative mostly and should present your views in a way that does not challenge the knowledge of the interviewer in a direct way. The interviewers in this category have a comparatively bigger ego, and many of them still live in their so called golden times, and are quite reluctant in accepting new things. Also, they think they know it all because they are very experienced, and mostly do not welcome new suggestions.
People younger than you, having less experience than you
These are relatively easier bunch to deal with as they see their future in you, if you are not throwing your knowledge on them. You still must deal with them very delicately as you should not forget that you are still being evaluated and they also expect respect from you. There is one more thing that you’ve to be careful about in this case that there is no way they should feel threatened by your coming into the picture.
People in your age group having somewhat similar experience like you
This is a tricky bunch to deal with, as your being less knowledgeable than them will get you booted out and your being more knowledge than them also has a possibility of getting rejected, as they might see you as a threat to their existence. So, you must assess the situation and don’t show any traces of over smartness as that will definitely get you rejected.
Interview preparation based on education
People less educated than you
You must be respectful to these people and act professionally. Some of the less educated people have to work extra hard to prove themselves and make their place, and as a result of that they develop a habit, where they compare themselves with people who are more educated to them, and try to prove that they are better than these more educated people. You must be careful not to get into such a comparison. There is a possibility that there are some interviewers in this category, and you have no clue of the same. In that case you’ve to identify this fact by evaluating the interviewers.
People more educated than you
This group of people who are highly educated or from prestigious schools are typically very soft spoken and courteous, but have an implicit superiority complex. Usually this is a result of their being very knowledgeable in their fields When dealing with such people, you’ve to be thorough in your answers and your reasoning’s should be solid. It’s very easy to get caught by these people, if you are weak in the area they are interviewing you for. So, if you know in advance that there is a possibility of getting interviewed by such people, you must prepare extra hard.
A lot of things have changed in the professional landscape. The meaning of the term “college dropout” has changed drastically and it’s no more a taboo. While it used to be a bad term describing someone who drops out of a college, because he or she was unable to perform and forced to quit. The new meaning of this term is completely opposite. While the action is same, which is dropping out of a college, the reason and purpose are completely different.
Typically, these people are from very reputed colleges, and they are very good in studies as well. The reason they drop out is that they want to do something as soon as possible, and their studies come in between them and their dreams. These people are so passionate about their dreams, that they drop out of colleges to fulfill them.
Obviously for these people, your education is not the primary reason they are interviewing you. These group of people look for a passion and aptitude in the candidates they are interviewing, so you’ve to showcase those angles in your talks.
Interview preparation based on subject matter expertise
If you are going for an interview in a chemical company and know in advance that a PhD in chemistry is going to interview you, it’s obvious that you’ll be dealing with a subject matter expert in his field.
Even if you are an expert in this field in question, it’ll not be easy for you to win such an interview purely based on your knowledge. There might be difference in views and approaches between the two of you, which can become a big roadblock for you.
While you should be ready to engage in discussions on this subject matter, you should be careful in not letting any of these discussions take form of arguments. You should have a soft stance, and a willingness to accept new views and perceptions on things you already know.
When interviewer is a former manager or coworker
In this world full of coincidences, it’s quite possible that you might interview with a former boss or coworker. This might be an awkward situation. The interviewer already knows about you and your accomplishments. They also know about your failures and weaknesses.
The key here is that you should treat this interview just like any other interview. Talk about your experience from both the times you worked with them, and when you worked at other places. Don’t assume the interviewer will remember all your accomplishments from the time you worked together. It very much likely that they have forgotten many of the details.
Your experiences gained after working together are also important. You should provide a clear picture of what you have been doing, and what you have accomplished. Use your recent experiences to show how you have learned and grown professionally. Most likely the interviewer will remember your weaknesses.Take this as an opportunity to show that you’ve recognized these weaknesses, worked to improve on them, and succeeded in developing in those areas. This point itself, can be very impressive.
Its normal for some of this interview to be very conversational, with the two of you recollecting past experiences. Participate in it warmly but don’t forget it’s still an interview. So just like in any other interview, focus on listening and answer the questions asked properly.
There is one very big benefit of this situation when you’re interviewing with a former coworker that you are a known person. It’s always a preference of hiring managers to hire known candidates as they are worried about avoiding a bad hire. Knowing a candidate will be able to meet expectations, even if they aren’t a super star, can be a big influencer in a hiring decision.
It does matter who is on the other side of the interview table, and you should train yourself on how to engage differently with several types of people. You can’t apply the same strategy to deal with different people.
So as soon as you see a person, you must change your strategy to answer your questions. You must convince yourself that this is not cheating but an art of people management.
And timing is everything here as you’ll only have first few minutes of interview to make your guesses and map your strategies.
You’ll also like this story.