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Mid-Career Job Interviews

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Guys,

Not looking for advice on interviews out of college. I have recently been contacted by a few warm leads on the client side that are interesting in bringing me in for an interview. I have not been grilled/interviewed for over 5 years so my technique is likely very rusty.

Back when I was doing recruiting in college, the interviews focused on brain teasers/cases and some discussion about the resume. There were also those obnoxious "Tell me about a time....[where you worked on a problematic team/where you failed/where you resolved a conflict]" questions.

Naturally every interview takes on its own personality and every interviewer is looking for something unique. Mid-career interviews, I assume, will focus more on what I've actually done at my previous job compared to what my "potential" is.

My question is - how much of the b.s. "tell me about a time..." questions do I need to prepare for? My job experience is what it is, and as long as I brush up on what I've done and can speak intelligently to it, I think I will be fine on that front. I just don't know how much "bs interview prep" is necessary at this juncture in my career.

Thanks.
post #2 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroStyles View Post

My question is - how much of the b.s. "tell me about a time..." questions do I need to prepare for?

If I ever got one of these questions at this point in my career, I would politely excuse myself from the interview and make a b-line for the exit.
post #3 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroStyles View Post
Guys,

Not looking for advice on interviews out of college. I have recently been contacted by a few warm leads on the client side that are interesting in bringing me in for an interview. I have not been grilled/interviewed for over 5 years so my technique is likely very rusty.

Back when I was doing recruiting in college, the interviews focused on brain teasers/cases and some discussion about the resume. There were also those obnoxious "Tell me about a time....[where you worked on a problematic team/where you failed/where you resolved a conflict]" questions.

Naturally every interview takes on its own personality and every interviewer is looking for something unique. Mid-career interviews, I assume, will focus more on what I've actually done at my previous job compared to what my "potential" is.

My question is - how much of the b.s. "tell me about a time..." questions do I need to prepare for? My job experience is what it is, and as long as I brush up on what I've done and can speak intelligently to it, I think I will be fine on that front. I just don't know how much "bs interview prep" is necessary at this juncture in my career.

Thanks.
At many large companies in the USA this has become the standard interview. In part it protects the company from lawsuits but also, how you behave in the past is a good predictor of how you will behave in the future.

Of course there are an infinite number of questions of this type that can be invented by interviewers but, there is a way to prepare.

The format of the answer should be in three parts:
What was the situation
What did you do
How well did that work.

Most questions focus on a few categories of behavior:
Conflict resolution
Working with team
Working with difficult person
Handling stress

You should prepare a 'story' from you life for each category. Then, at the moment of the interview, organize the narrative of the most appropriate story to fit the specifics of the question.

You should have a story about a conflict you had with someone at work
A story of miscommunication
A story of working on a team
Working to a deadline.

Search the internet -- there are sites that can provide more details.

This seems like BS but, it can work to your advantage. Very few people prepare in the way described above. In the interview, they flounder. If you prepare, you can make yourself look very good.
post #4 of 34
I'd say differently - when you are interviewing for big ticket jobs (and the longer you work the bigger ticket they get) I'd say being able to tell stories about how you actually have perfored is more valuable. you are selling yourself - not so much that you will get questions, the way I see is when you get asked questions you are actually trying to get to a situation where you can tell stories about how your experience has been similar and what you did in those times.
post #5 of 34
At this point in your career, interviewing is 90% chemistry and 10% justification. That is all.
post #6 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post
At this point in your career, interviewing is 90% chemistry and 10% justification. That is all.
+1 There was a piece in the Journal the other day about the mindbender questions asked by Google and the like. Things like "how many golf balls would fit inside a school bus". They're just looking to see how you can work out difficult problems. The rest of it is making sure you're not a scumbag.
post #7 of 34
My older version of

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159...9N3YH825G3PX67


Was very good for providing a number of those "how did you . . ." questions.
post #8 of 34
Last interview I had, the hiring manager actually had a list of questions from HR that were required (in theory, I have my doubts about whether they hassle the execs with that) complete with a form that had to be filled out with my responses and signed. Probably some sort of equal treatment CYA type of thing.

We worked through those really fast so that we could get on with the real questions that related to job performance for the specific position. Lots of the questions did involve past projects, but also lots of questions were related to current problems and my ideas for taking on those problematic projects.
post #9 of 34
having sat on interview panels i cant really see any difference between graduate and mid-career interviews.

most of the questions i see are still "tell me about a time you had to work through a difficult problem", "how do you prioritise your work" type questions. and yeh they largely come from HR.

then there is a general chat to see if you can stand working with the guy or not.

i would at least think about a scenario for each of those generic questions so you arent left racking your brain at the time.
post #10 of 34
Everytime I have switched jobs, its about making the interviewer feel comfortable with you as an employee. Your not untested and inexperianced anymore. They know you and they know your work or else they wouldnt be talking to you, so all things aside. Ask them questions (best advice I ever got), ask about the company, the team you will be working with. Use phrasing like, so tell me about the team I will be working with (not tell me about the team if I get the job). Be confident, you already have a job, and if this doesnt work, then its not the end of the world. Talk about your victories, not the minutae of your job.
post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rambo View Post
+1

There was a piece in the Journal the other day about the mindbender questions asked by Google and the like. Things like "how many golf balls would fit inside a school bus". They're just looking to see how you can work out difficult problems. The rest of it is making sure you're not a scumbag.

Looks like you'll have some work to do, Metro...

Kidding!!
post #12 of 34
5 years after college is not mid-career. I would probably disagree with Pennglock and others who state that you will not and should not get typical behavioral interview questions. Not to say that it won't happen, it may, but 5 years of experience is still quite junior in most jobs and all interviewing questions / techniques are fair game IMO.
post #13 of 34
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys...this is kind of informal as I am coming in and meeting with the group head (my "boss") immediately, so I'm not sure there will be any BS HR gatekeeper interviewers. I didn't even submit a resume - this was a warmish lead. I doubt HR even knows about me. We'll see though.
post #14 of 34
I'll hire you.
post #15 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by gdl203 View Post
5 years after college is not mid-career. I would probably disagree with Pennglock and others who state that you will not and should not get typical behavioral interview questions. Not to say that it won't happen, it may, but 5 years of experience is still quite junior in most jobs and all interviewing questions / techniques are fair game IMO.

Agreed, and as long as you're prepared enough (ex, you've done some legitimate, value added stuff in different organizations that you can talk about), and you're interested enough, you'll be fine -- I would just prepare as usual.
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