Just like fashion, new trends are always emerging for interviewing platforms. Yet, making a career transition is tough enough without focusing valuable energy on pursuing the latest bells and whistles. Though some may not be your preferred style, there will always be a “new black” that recruiters are ready to try on during an interview. The idea is not to chase the trends but be cognizant, and capable, of successfully navigating the ones that come your way.
Somewhere along your career journey you may participate in a group interview. This may include multiple hiring managers, team members or even a panel. You might even find yourself being interviewed alongside other applicants. This “firing squad” approach isn’t necessarily easy (or fun) unless you’re one of the hiring professionals who prefer to save time by rapidly narrowing the talent pool. Odds are, any time the number of people in the interview increase, so will your stress. The success strategy includes not being caught off guard when you walk in the room and discover multiple interviewers or applicants. Being aware of this trend and even practicing your approach will help you stay calm and focused. Be sure, however, to address each person equally with your responses and eye contact.
The fact that they don’t even make laptops without cameras anymore should clue you in that the video interviewing trend is here to stay. When it comes to video interviewing the challenge lies in overcoming self-distraction, or in other words, getting out of your own way. If your Internet connection is sketchy, you might find yourself focusing more on technical issues than concentrating on impressing an employer. Check your connections beforehand or book a conference room where technology interface is part of the package. Another hurdle includes “personal” distraction. Some candidates lose focus and eye contact and tend to fidget more as they get distracted by phones, family or even seeing their image reflected back during an interview. If you’re one of them, set up a time and place to conduct a few video interview dress rehearsals before the big day.
“If it were possible, what theme song would play each time you entered a room?” “What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career?” “If you were a Disney character, which character would you be and why?” Welcome to the trend of quirky questions. Hiring managers ask questions like these, and other seemingly not so relevant queries, for number of reasons, including having a creative way to assess an applicant’s personality. Quirky questions can also be used to determine how well you can handle being thrown a curve ball, if you’re flexible and innovative and if you have the ability to learn from past mistakes.
These interpersonal skills-driving questions may also ease the tension in an interview. The challenge is not to overthink them but rather go with the flow and offer honest, and in some cases light-hearted, responses. Remember, this is still and interview, so your answers should shed a positive light on your ability to contribute positively to an organization. Perhaps you’ve chosen Alice in Wonderland as your Disney character; be sure to give a host of reasons why “Alice” would make a good employee. She’s inquisitive, thoughtful, creative and willing to take risks. One note of caution, even if the interviewing mood becomes more playful with these questions, it’s not the time to be self-indulgent or too forthcoming; especially if your theme song is “Highway to Hell.”
Kim Monaghan is a syndicated career columnist, professional certified coach, résumé writer and personal branding strategist who believes that life should be simple, careers engaging and opportunities endless. www.KBMCoaching.com.