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5 Sticky Job Interview Situations (And How to Handle Them Like a Pro)

job interviews, tips
Sometimes job interviews take a turn for the weird. Here's how to handle it. / Credit: Job interview image via Shutterstock

If you aren't landing the job of your dreams, there is a good chance it's your interviewing skills that are holding you back.

Job interviews are what trip candidates up the most during the hiring process, according to a new study from Accounttemps. Specifically, 43 percent of chief financial officers said the job interview is where candidates make the most mistakes, up 11 percentage points since 2010. Additionally, 11 percent think the interview follow-up is where applicants slip up the most, while 7 percent believe it's in the initial phone interview/screening stage.

"Hiring mistakes are costly to businesses, and employers are increasingly wary of choosing someone who is a poor fit for a job," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps. "The job interview can provide the best insight into whether someone is a good match." [50 Job Interview Questions You Should Be Prepared to Answer]

Since employers place great stock in the job interview, Messmer said applicants should go to great lengths to prepare, including being ready for a variety of interview situations that may go beyond the traditional format.

To help job seekers, Messmer highlights five increasingly common job interview scenarios, along with tips for handling them.

  • Behavioral interviews: When asking behavioral-based questions, such as "can you tell me about a time when you increased productivity at your last job?" employers are looking for insight into your past work experiences that could relate to the open position. Be prepared to offer compelling anecdotes that illustrate how you delivered positive results or solved problems. 
  • Video interviews: Skype and other video chat services make it easy and cost-effective for employers to meet with job candidates regardless of location. Conduct a tech check before the virtual meeting, dress as you would for an in-person job interview, make sure the background is free of clutter and remember to look at your computer's camera — not the screen. 
  • Multiple interviews: Employers may ask a candidate to go through multiple job interviews because they want every assurance they're making the best, most informed decision. View follow-up interviews as an opportunity to elaborate on your most pertinent skills and highlight your in-depth knowledge of the company. 
  • Panel interviews: Companies conduct panel interviews because it's an efficient way to get candidates through several job interviews in a timely fashion. These meetings can be intimidating; help yourself by making a connection with each interviewer. Make eye contact with everyone, use people's names when answering their questions and request business cards so you can send each interviewer a customized thank-you note. 
  • Group interviews: While less common, some employers conduct group interviews with multiple candidates simultaneously to observe their interpersonal skills. Assert yourself respectfully by making sure your voice is heard, but never by interrupting others. Even though you're competing for a job, treat your fellow interviewees in a professional, diplomatic manner.

The study was based on surveys of more than 2,100 CFOs from companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metro areas.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.