All interviewers have a primary style or approach. If you can determine the style, you can influence the outcome. All you require are some telltale signs for the best approach. It’s relatively simple, but very powerful when done well. Here are some insights:
- Results/Action Style – Questions come quickly and are targeted. Impatient. Assertive,
- Quick, short questions on accomplishments, achievements and future contribution
- Little time for chitchat. Will drive to the core questions. They take charge immediately.
Response: Answers should be short, accentuating the outcomes of past actions, but be ready for the “how did you do that?” question. State the issue, action, and results.
- Thoughtful/reflective Style – Wants facts, analysis, numbers “talk”, measurements, ratios
- Focus is on “my” area of responsibility, “issues that affects me or my group”
- Typically are more comfortable with numbers, not personal or social relationships
Response: Answers can be more expansive, but relate the rationale behind the decision. Why one option over another? Focus on the thought process and how you measured results?
- Relationship oriented Style – Social, feelings, group emphasis, compatibility, team orientation
- Focus is on “fitting in”, being a part of the support network. A productive part of the “team”
- Will try to put you at ease, increase your comfort zone and theirs. Wants a relationship.
Response: Emphasize the “we” not the “I”. Look for common values and consensus views. Involvement of others is important even though the decision may be theirs.
- Get-along Style – Provides support but doesn’t lead, avoids controversy, seeks balance
- Focus on the neutral, “no big changes that will upset my world”. A rebel is to be avoided.
- Stability is important, status quo, change should come in small doses
Response: Reinforce the positive approach/results of the past, the need to add value, but on a planned incremental strategy over time. Seek their ideas and positively reinforce past outcomes.
What to look for to determine which style is prominent:
- Their offices and external signs:
- Strong action-oriented: Spartan. Functional. Few personal items or nick-knacks.
- Thoughtful/reflective: Degrees on the wall. Nick-knacks. Reports or papers piled high.
- Relationship oriented: Personal pictures, boat or hobby. Chairs grouped around a table.
- Get-along: Pictures of family, dog, a bucolic sunset. Neutral office in both color and décor.
- Their behaviors:
- Strong action-oriented: Few social niceties. High intensity. Short meeting. Looks at watch.
- Thoughtful/reflective: May overanalyze details. Thinks about alternatives & implications.
- Relationship oriented: May talk about themselves. Longer meeting. More casual.
- Get-along: More passive. Least formal. Looking for connections. Seek out your views first.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. The higher the level of manager the more difficult it may be to assess a style. If you’re in a conference room there are far fewer clues to “read”. Good luck.
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