Conversations, Not Cross-Examinations
Each interviewer has a personal style, but most interviews can be identified using a few common labels. Many interviews will be conversational or “traditional,” in which interviewers chat with candidates and ask fairly typical interview questions. Some are behavioral, in which interviewers ask about past achievements, seek details regarding behaviors (and skills) that contributed to these undertakings, and ask candidates “what would you do in this situation” questions. Occasionally, particularly for consulting firms, interviews are case studies, in which interviewers ask candidates to analyze specific situational cases and problems; revealing how candidates “think on their seats” in response to specific analysis-driven cases.
No matter the label used, resumes are tools for you to use during any interview. Interviewers review these documents during your conversation with a particular purpose, so you should do so too. Bring the resume with you to the interview. To prepare, review typical questions. Identify three key points and three anecdotes associated with academic and experiential achievements. Don't memorize the answers to any questions, but be prepared to expand upon the key points and anecdotes you identified as illustrating qualifications. Bring a resume with you to every interview.
Remember, interviews are not simply a series of questions and answers. They are conversations with a common purpose for you and the interviewer. During the exchange, the more verbally inspired images of success that are sent and received, the more likely an offer will be made.
Don't be shy! Talk about your achievements with pride. Interviewers have limited time to get to know the real you. Don't think there are right answers. When asked a technical question, if you don't know the exact answer, talk the interviewer through how you would find the correct information. Don't wait to do so, but always ask questions when invited.
Don't overanalyze or dissect your performance after each interview. Decision-making is very subjective. The process changes from initial screening through call-back stages and, ultimately, through selection interviews. If your style and strategies remain sincere, no matter the interviewer's style, technique, or temperament, you will find a good fit. If you don't receive an offer, never stop to ask why. Instead you should, via follow-up contacts, seek “consideration for the next available similar opportunity.” Remain confident and enthusiastic. More often than you think, you can transform someone who rejected you into a strong advocate and network member who might interview you again very soon.
Ultimately, you will communicate motivations and, most importantly, qualifications successfully via phone and in-person interviews. Have confidence in your abilities to project qualifications and capabilities. Always check in advance regarding how many people you will be interviewing with and how long the entire process might take. Specifically ask, “Are there any materials you recommend I read prior to my interview?”