Sep 20

Job Hunting: Shine Like a Star (1 out of 2)

Interviews are a very interesting beast. You can do an interview and feel like you ace it. Yet you didn’t get an offer. Or you felt like you totally bombed the interview and then suddenly got an offer out from the blue.

The end result of getting an offer is really hard to predict. Some companies want a very experienced person, while others are looking for someone not as experience be is able to groomed. Others want someone who has is able to be a jack of all trades, while some just want someone that is able to just do a particular task. That stuff is a bit of corporate politics and there is no tip that I can give without knowing that situation.

Interviews are typically broken down to three kinds of interviews: Behavioral, Technical, and Critical Thinking. Some companies will merge them together, schedule an interview for each, and numerous other combinations.

Interview Types


This type of interview is typically to find out what kind of person you are and how you would react to certain situations. Each job profile requires a particular set of skills or characteristics. These questions are to see if you have those skills and characteristics to be successful person in that position and company. Examples of behavioral interview questions can be found at Job Interviews Questions. That site is also a great resource for getting ready for interviews.

Many companies use the STAR Interview method in order to evaluate a behavioral interview. STAR is what an interviewer is looking for when they ask you a question.

ST (Situation/Task)
A (Action)
R (Result)

When you answer a question you want to be sure that you explain that the situation or task is, what actions you took, and what was the result of the actions taken. If you don’t have these three components in your answer, many interviewers will considered your answer invalid and will not take that answer into consideration. MIT’s career development center has a section on the Star Method.

Critical Thinking

There may be a variation in the questions for critical thinking depending on your field. For engineers, this is typically in a form of a brain teaser. An example of a question is:

“You have eight balls. Seven balls are the exact same weight while one is a different weight. You have a scale that will weigh two sets of items and tell you if they weigh the same of different. How can you find which ball weighs differently than the rest in only weighing twice?”

The reason why companies ask this is to see how you think and if you can think outside of the box. There are a few things that you need to keep in mind when you are asked these questions.

Don’t give up!

If you don’t know the answer, still take a few swings at it. They are going to ask something that you haven’t heard before. It is hard but they want to see your approach to finding the solution. To an extent, your approach is more important than finding the answer. If one approach doesn’t work, then try a different approach.

Speak up!

Interviewers are not mind readers. They don’t know what you are thinking. When you work on getting the solution, talk aloud and say what you are thinking. I’ve ran into interviews where they are not speaking while trying to solve the question and it makes it harder for me to see the thought path. It also makes me thee interviewer bored, feel like a exam which makes it more stressful on the interviewee, makes the interviewer believe that you have poor communication skills.

Draw draw draw!

Regardless of doing a phone or in-person interview, if you can get to a white-board or a piece of paper, you should be drawing something to help solve the question. This will help out in two ways. One, you can keep your head straight and keep track of solutions, actions taken, and other variables that you used to arrive at your final answer. And two, if you are doing an in-person interview, it will help the interviewer understand and keep up with what you are thinking and explaining. These at the end will make your life easier.


This kind of interview is to find out how qualified you are for a particular job/position. These questions are almost like getting a quiz from a class. For those applying for marketing positions would be asked marketing questions. Programmers would be asked programming questions. Make sure you brush up on your basics when you do this. It would be a shame if you forgot them and couldn’t answer the question when you get questioned.

Last Notes:

You should always be able to ask what kind of interview that they will be doing with you. These only cover what the contents of the interview may consist of. There are forms of interviews that they would execute the interviews. My next post will talk about there different forms of interviews.


Permanent link to this article: http://blog.jimmyhua.com/2010/09/20/job-hunting-shine-like-a-star-1-out-of-2/


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