You might think interviews are pretty much standard. They ask you some questions – why do you want to work for the company, what skills can you bring and where do you see yourself in five years’ time – and you do your best to come across as confident, knowledgeable and personable without doing or saying anything to embarrass yourself.
While the objectives of the interviewing process remain the same – recruiters want to know that you can do the job, are willing to do the job, and will get on with the team – the methods they use to screen candidates and assess your personality and skills can change.
Like any industry, there are trends within recruitment, and staying one step ahead of the latest interview methods can help you prepare – and ultimately get the job.
The rise of psychometric testing
Love them or hate them, one trend that isn’t going away is psychometric testing. Using questionnaires to assess a candidate’s personality and attitudes have been around for years – but what’s new is the frequency with which they’re being used.
‘More and more companies are using psychometric tests and not just in the industries you would expect,’ says Rob Williams, author of Brilliant Verbal Reasoning Tests andBrilliant Numeracy Tests.
Rob, who has devised psychometric tests for high street banks and the European Union, believes that companies are increasingly turning away from standard questionnaires.
‘Rather than use “off the shelf” personality tests, big companies are investing in bespoke tests which assess the attitudes and characteristics that are most pertinent to them.’
Skills tests that adapt to your ability
In addition to personality questionnaires, companies are now using adaptive tests to assess candidates’ skills and knowledge.
‘The biggest difference with these is the shortness of the test,’ says Rob. ‘The second major difference is that you will find an adaptive test more challenging.
‘In the past you may have found questions on a test fluctuating in difficulty or generally becoming more and more difficult. Consider a test of twenty questions with the first the easiest and the twentieth the most difficult.
‘The secret of adaptive testing is to give the tenth question first. If it’s answered correctly then the tests adapts and gives the fifteenth question – an upward step change in difficulty. Whereas if the tenth question is answered incorrectly, then the much easier fifth question will be given next – a downward step change in difficulty level.
‘Naturally, this is a far more challenging experience for candidates. As the tests are short, there’s less opportunity to even out your score, so it’s vital to be focused from the start.’
The case interview
You’ve faced a panel and group interview – but are you ready for the ‘case interview’? Primarily used by management consulting firms and investment banking companies, the interview technique is increasingly being used by other types of organisations.
Here, candidates are introduced to a business dilemma facing a particular company. You are requested to analyse the situation, identify key business issues and discuss how you would address the problems involved.
Designed to assess your analytical and problem-solving skills, it also gives hiring managers an insight into your creativity and ability to think under pressure, as well as demonstrating your interpersonal skills and powers of persuasion as you present your plan of action.
Tell me about your reputational capital?
While companies are coming up with ever-more inventive tests and interview formats, the kinds of questions they ask are changing too. Social networking may be something you do in your own time but don’t be surprised if it comes up during an interview.
While you’re unlikely to be asked to hand over your Facebook passwords (though some companies in America have been known to ask), you may well be quizzed about the size of your digital footprint.
As Jeanne Meister, co-author of the 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today explains, it’s all about “reputational capital”.
‘One of the compelling predictions in our book the 2020 workplace is that your reputational capital will be the way you get promoted and hired in organisations,’ says Meister.
‘Increasingly, we see new jobs being created and one of the requirements is to have a certain number of followers on Twitter or a certain number of individuals in your social network on LinkedIn.
‘We also see organisations building questions into the recruiting process asking how are you using your social networks to impact your business and increase your production.’
Screen test – video conference calling
Another example of technology driving change is video conferencing. These days, you don’t have to apply for a job abroad to be invited to a Skype interview. Recruiters who once used telephone interviews to screen applicants are increasingly using video calls instead.
Even if the job isn’t positioned abroad, today’s global workplace means that more companies are building virtual teams that work across multiple countries. A company’s head office may be located miles away from where the job is actually based, or you may need to attend an interview with a virtual team member on the other side of the world.
Get ready for the game changer…
It may sound far-fetched, but companies in America are now using computer games as part of the interviewing process. A recent article in Forbes reports how some candidates have been handed a tablet and left alone in a room to play games.
The specially-designed games track the player’s every move and send the results to the hiring manager. According to Knack, the company behind the technology, variables such as how long you hesitate and what part of the screen you touch, can indicate whether you’re a fast learner, how empathetic and even your attitude to risk.
While psychometric questionnaires, adaptive tests and even computer games can offer valuable insights, there will always be a role for human interaction. You can’t assess the ‘vibe’ you get from someone without meeting them face-to-face and shaking their hand.
For now at least, it’s still important to come across as confident, knowledgeable and personable – and try not to do or say anything to embarrass yourself.
Brilliant Verbal Reasoning Tests – Everything You Need to Know to Pass Verbal Reasoning Tests by Rob Williams: http://amzn.to/1c1XAHc
Brilliant Numeracy Tests: Everything You Need to Know to Pass Numeracy Tests by Rob Williams: http://amzn.to/1ePFWal
2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today by Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd http://amzn.to/1glxrGP
Image: © FotolEdhar – Fotolia.com