“A video interview? You’ve got to be joking.” “What am I going to say in front of a camera for ten minutes?” “I don’t think I want to work for a company that does video interviewing – it’s so impersonal…” These are some of the comments I have heard and seen about video interviewing this year and I get it. Video interviewing is new. It’s not all that common (in Australia at least), and if you don’t know much about it, it can be nerve wracking and can conjure up all sorts of conscious and unconscious blocks.
Ahh, the good old ice-breaker interview question. Tell me about yourself. Whether your interviewer is planning a behavioural interview or not, usually they will start off with one or two ice-breaker questions to warm you up for the main event. As an interviewer, I love ice-breaker questions, because they do exactly that. They break the ice and allow a candidate to start by talking about the topic they know the most about. Themselves.
Have you ever been asked a hypothetical interview question? If so, you would be forgiven for misunderstanding the point of a hypothetical and responding with a real life example of when you have done something similar. With so much information and advice available on the internet about behavioural interviewing, and with most employers now preferring the behavioural interviewing method, you’ve had it drilled into you over and over again. Use an example. Provide an example. Use the STAR method.
But, when an interviewer asks a hypothetical interview question, they’re actually trying to elicit a different response from you. And if you fail to pick up on this slight distinction, you could lose marks in your interview. In this post, I’m going to break down the difference between hypothetical and behavioural questions. You’ll be able to spot a hypothetical interview question a mile away in your next interview!
First of all, what is a behavioural interview question?
A behavioural interview question is one where the interviewer asks you to “tell me about a time when you did XYZ.”. Behavioural questions are designed to get you talking about specific experiences in your career, where you have demonstrated a specific skillset, knowledge or capability. The idea behind this is that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Your interviewer want to know how you have handled a situation like this one in the past, so that they know you are capable of handling similar situations if you are successful in winning the role.
So, how do I respond to a behavioural question?
This is where it is imperative that you provide an example. Use the STAR method to walk through your example methodically and provide your interviewer with all the information they need to assess your suitability. Make sure that your example is as relevant as possible. Listen carefully to the question to ensure you don’t miss any sneaky details or nuances, that aren’t immediately apparent. You can always ask your interviewer to repeat the question if you aren’t sure.
What about hypotheticals? What does that even mean?
A hypothetical interview question is one where the interviewer asks you, “what would you do if you were in XYZ situation?”. Hypothetical interview questions are not trying to elicit examples of your work, but are instead focused on assessing how you think on your feet, as well as your problem solving, logic and abstract thinking skills.
How should I respond to a hypothetical interview question?
This is where you need to use your imagination. If it helps, you can think about similar situation you have experienced, but avoid falling into the habit of talking about a specific example from your past, rather than explaining what you would do in the future. It’s all in your language – use “I would”, instead of “I did”, when providing your response.
What if the interviewer asks me to provide an example of a similar situation, once I have responded to the hypothetical interview question?
Ooh, sneaky! If that is the case, then go for it! There is no harm in backing up the rationale for your thinking by providing an example. In fact, I have seen candidates provide an example after explaining their hypothetical response, even before being asked. As long as you complete your hypothetical response first, this can be executed really well.
Is that it?
Yep! That’s it! I know this was a much shorter post than usual, but that’s all I’ve got to say on the topic. In summary, listen to the language in the question. If it starts with “tell me about a time when you…”, then tell a story from your past with pride. If it starts with “what would you do if…”, let your imagination run wild, think through the steps involved and provide an example to back up your response.
Best of luck in your interview! Be sure to let me know if you get asked a hypothetical interview question. I’d love to know if these tips help you to win your dream role.
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Are you still wondering if you should include a cover letter with your application? Well, if I haven’t convinced you yet, I am sure this post will provide you with the push you need to start writing cover letters for every job you apply for. I’m passionate about this topic, so if you are ready for some #realtalk, strap yourself in!
You’ve written your cover letter and you’re pretty proud of where you’ve gotten to with it. But what happens when you get to the end? How do you close your cover letter? How do you tie your pitch up, with a nice little bow, to make sure that those potential employers will pick up the phone and call? I’m so glad you’ve asked. If you think it’s as simple as “yours sincerely”, then you are mistaken, my friend! There is an art to closing off your cover letter and in this post, I’m telling all.
Have you been applying for jobs, but not getting called for interviews? Perhaps you’re wondering if your cover letter has been killing your chances of winning your dream job? Well, your cover letter is an integral part of your job application. I hate to say it, but if your cover letter isn’t up to scratch, it could be the reason you aren’t being inundated with phone calls about job opportunities.
Do you tailor your resume to suit every job you are applying for? If not, this is the kick in the backside you have been waiting for. If you aren’t tailoring your job applications and are instead, sending out the same, tired resume and cover letter in response to every job advertisement you see, I want you to stop. Sure, with this method, you might eventually get a job. But, will it be the job you really want?
Your resume’s design is arguably just as important as the content it contains. Don’t believe me? Think about first impressions when you meet someone. Unironed clothes or a scruffy appearance, a bitchy resting face and body language, all help you form an initial feeling about whether you like someone. Whether you like it or not.
Now think about a book cover. Of course the saying goes, that you should never judge a book by its cover, but it is only natural for us to gravitate towards books which appeal to us at first glance and it is so easy to overlook a potentially entertaining read, based on the picture, title or the fonts the author has selected.
Do you have a professional profile on your resume? A professional profile is the perfect opportunity for you to open your resume with a bang, and show potential employers why you are their ideal candidate. In fact, if you don’t currently have a professional profile on your resume, you are overlooking a key piece of the puzzle, and could be missing out on the chance to interview for your dream roles.
Are you looking for simple ways to improve your resume? Well, you’re in the right place! I’ve got 26 ideas about how you can improve your resume today and believe me, they are all well within your reach. Check them out and let me know if you have any other tips to add.