4 Interviewing Styles of Headhunters and Hiring Managers

We have all been through interviews that sometimes take the wind out of all the work experience that we may have gathered over our work-lives. We have also had interviews that also seemed so classical that they were smooth as snow. Over the years each hiring manager develops his or her own style. Today we present the key interviewing styles of headhunters and hiring managers. Always helps to know what you’re in for before you make a big move towards that key management position.

“The resume gets the interview, the interview gets the job”

4 Interviewing Styles of Headhunters and Hiring Managers

This quote is true as successfully managing an interview is the key to getting any job. The interview provides employers with an opportunity to get to know your personality style and to closely examine your verbal communication skills. What you say – and how you say it – is critical to an employer’s assessment of your “fit” with a company.

No matter which interview style you face there are basic similarities between all – anticipate questions, develop your answers and practice makes perfect. Articles such as this one and other can give you guidelines, but you need to learn how to adapt them to yourself so you aren’t giving the employer the same answers as everybody else. And remember to sell yourself, your qualifications and your skills at all times. Draw a line at over-selling. Be convincing.

The standard operating procedure of interviews is a manager or director asking a carefully sequenced series of questions to determine competency and skill levels. There are several different styles of interviewing followed, each of which can add depth and substance to the information gathered with the interviewer’s questions.

We are discussing four methods of interviewing – situational, professional behavior profiling, stress, and behavioral. Each style has its strengths and weaknesses, but none of them stands entirely alone as a sole approach to selection. There are really useful techniques to be learned from each of these approaches, so we need to look at them individually, and then dissect facets of each to help you prepare for a comprehensive interviewing session.

4 interviewing styles of headhunters

1. Situational Interviews

Situational interviewing is based on the theory that the closer the interviewer can get a candidate to the real work situation, the better the evaluation will be. The usual methods of this interview style is one gets the prospective employee to actually perform some aspect of the job. For example a computer programmer will be made to discuss some software applications, an accountant can be asked to analyze a balance sheet with procedural mistakes built in. No amount of probing and reference-checking could give the interviewer quite the same taste for the skills as seeing those in action. It also allows the interviewer to see whether the prospect has a style compatible with the fabric of the corporation.

2. Professional Behavior Profile during interviews

Among a number of universally desirable, learned professional behaviors, the most critical to most senior positions are: analytical skills, determination, communication skills, time management, and organization. Such behaviors are paramount to success because they have most relevance when examined in the context of their application.

Understanding the professional behavioral profile of a candidate will also help to determine his motivators, and whether he is likely to be manageable and a team player. Consciously looking for certain behavior in candidates is a useful approach that, when blended with all these other techniques, will give an accurate picture of the whole person.

3. Stress Interviews

We have all heard of ex-employee/colleagues who “looked great on paper,” but who just couldn’t handle the rigors of the work. Often the problem was an inability to handle the stress that was an integral part of the job. If there is stress on the job being filled, an employee who has all of the skills in place still will not be successful if he or she cannot function under normal workday stressful conditions—in other words, cannot remain calm while at the same time having listening and analytical processes in high gear.

If stress is a real part of the job you are filling, interviewers will add a stress dimension to the interview like applying a situational interview technique: imagine the pressure if a trainer is told to “Get up there and teach me something.” The interviewer objective is to bait you, to see how you will respond, wherein the given responses which show the candidate’s weaknesses and demonstrate how he holds up to pressure. They have been known to apply tactics as weird silences, constant interruptions and challenging interrogation with antagonistic questions to push boundaries.

4. Behavioral Interviewing

Behavioral interviewing, or past-performance interviewing, applies the leopard-never-changes-its-spots philosophy. It bases all questions in the past, and it requires the candidate to give specific examples from work history. The belief that an individual will do at least as well on the new job as he or she has done in the past is often a reasonable assumption. Past behavior can and does predict future actions, so by asking candidates to talk about specific work experiences, they will recall the details and then get into the habit of answering questions with details of on-the-job experiences.

The candidate prepare by thinking of specific examples that demonstrate your competence in core behaviors such as teamwork, problem solving, communication, creativity, flexibility and organizational skills. Structure your responses by following the STAR technique – give answers in terms of the situation, the task, what action you took, and what was the result or outcome.

With these interviewing approaches, it isn’t a matter of choosing either one or another; they probably all have something applicable to your needs. It is a smart idea to have a wide selection of information- gathering techniques at your disposal, because if you rely too heavily on any one selection technique, candidates rapidly become acclimated to that particular approach. Throw nothing but negatively phrased stress questions at a candidate, and the questions soon lose their bite; consistently ask questions about a person’s past performance, and the average candidate quickly learns the rules of the game.

The same applies to the situational and professional behavior profiling approaches. The sensible approach is to take the best aspects of each style and combine them to produce a comprehensive strategy, a sum greater than its parts. Your template may allow time for the inclusion of situational techniques and the opportunity to test poise with some dastardly stress questions. You will adopt a little from here and a little from there, until you have an approach that is entirely unique to your personality and your needs. Whatever approach you get exposed to, we hope this can help a bit in the preparation and driving your career to the next step!

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