How to Rock the Situational Interview

As a student, there’s nothing more nerve-racking about a search for employment than the inevitable job interview. You’re inexperienced, in an unfamiliar environment, meeting new people — all while trying to put your best foot forward.

In recent years, this process has become perhaps more anxiety producing with the growing popularity of situational interviews. Candidates are presented with true-to-life scenarios and then asked how they would handle them, step-by-step. Talk about being put on the spot!

But depending on how you look at them, situational interviews actually can be a blessing in disguise. They give you a better opportunity to highlight your skills, as well as allow your personality to shine through. And thanks to their unique nature, they’re also likely to be more thought-provoking — never a bad thing.

There’s good reason why companies increasingly are turning to these kinds of interviews. According to a 2003 BusinessWeek article , the conventional interview is only 7 percent accurate in predicting on-the-job performance, whereas situational interviews were found to be 54 percent accurate — the most accurate of any interviewing tool used.

“It’s twofold,” explained Dr. Randall Hansen, founder and president of Quintcareers.com, a career services Web site. “One is to see where [candidates’] skills are — because anybody can put on their resume that they have these kinds of skills. But when they have to talk it out and explain it, that’s when you can often tell someone who does have the experience from someone who doesn’t.…


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