Current Job Interview Questions for a New Generation

This guest post comes from Sean Conrad of Halogen Software, a market leading talent management business…

As they say, “you only have one chance to make a great impression.” The saying holds true particularly when it comes to the job interview process. With the pressure to present yourself in the best possible light (in a very short time) nerves can easily take over, especially if you’re a member of the Millennial generation and have had little experience with the interview process.

It’s no secret that the best way to reduce the pre-interview stress is to be prepared. Take time to research the company with whom you’ll be interviewing. You should also try and anticipate with questions will be asked and then practice answering them.

While the Internet now enables us to carry out the research component of the process with ease, predicting the unknown, such as which interview questions will be asked, is quite another story. Gone are the days when we entered into an interview room prepared to answer classics, such as “Where do you see yourself in five years?

Rapidly evolving technology, uncertain economic times and changing workforce dynamics make it difficult for us to predict where we’ll be in six months, let alone in five years. Recruiting is no longer just about finding a candidate with the right skills to do the job; it’s about hiring for cultural fit.

If you are a twenty-something in the market for a job, do your research. Understand the hiring company’s business, its corporate culture and values and use that information as part of your interview preparation. Here are a few questions you might want to prep for before you put on your interview suit. In forming your responses, look for opportunities to align your skills, experience and interests with what you’ve learned about the hiring company.

Career aspirations

Instead of being asked, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” be prepared for more open-ended questions such as:

  1. What do you want to get out of this position?
  2. What skills would you like to learn?
  3. What are your career goals?

What you bring to the table

Potential employers will recognise that, although you don’t have a great deal of work experience, you do have valuable skills. They might focus on questions that draw out your skills, for example:

  1. What are your top three professional skills?
  2. Can you demonstrate why these are your top three?
  3. Can you provide examples of how you made positive difference at school or as a volunteer?

Your commitment level

Millennials are often labelled as individuals who lack commitment (We’re not saying that it’s true). As a result, you might be asked questions about past project experience, for example:

  1. What types of projects have you worked on?
  2. Can you give me an example of project you worked on where you exceeded expectations?
  3. What were the results and what was your role in achieving them?

Personal traits

Potential employers look at more than skills. They also look at personality traits to match the role they are trying to fill. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked questions that are work related to draw out your passions, preferences and weaknesses:

  1. What do you do in your free time?
  2. Do you belong to any social, community or volunteer groups?
  3. What is/was your role in this group?
  4. How did you contribute to the success of a project?
  5. Can you give an example of time you had deal with conflict — and how you handled it?

Of course, the type and number of questions will vary depending on the interviewer. One final piece of advice — be prepared for one or more non-related or odd ball questions. Interviewers might want to test your critical thinking skills and ability to think quickly. Some real-world examples include, “What song describes your work ethic” (asked at Dell) and “On a scale from one to ten, rate me as an interviewer.” (asked at Kraft Foods).

If you are faced with one of these bizarre questions, not to worry, take a moment to think about it and how your answer could relate to the position for which you’re interviewing.

Sean Conrad is a Certified Human Capital Strategist and Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software. He writes regularly about talent management trends and best-practices for the Halogen Software Exploring Talent Management blog.

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