Years ago when I used to work in college career services, the interview process for college administrator positions was apparently ahead of its time. A recent article entitled “How You’ll Look For A Job in 2018” says that exercise-based job interviews are becoming more common.
Lindsay Grenawalt, head of People for Cockroach Labs (a computer software company), says,
“Rather than guess if a candidate can do the job based on their answers to behavioral questions, exercise-based interviews ask for candidates to show [what they can do].”
This includes interviews using case studies, individual exercises, and presentations.
My Toughest Job Interviews
When previously interviewing for college career services positions, I had to do much of the same.
I’ve had interviews where I had to do presentations and teach mock classes. Once I even had to create an idea for a program in 45 minutes and then pitch it to a search committee.
I’ve also had marathon interviews. They started with a dinner interview the evening before. Then they picked back up again the next day at 8am and lasted until 4pm.
These interviews involved meeting with just about everyone on campus, including the President of the college and a panel of students. (By the way, the students asked the toughest questions of anyone.)
I’ve had to do pretty much everything but a literal song and dance!
The Advantage of Exercise-Based Interviews
Now, nearly 20 years later, these types of situations are being incorporated into today’s job interviews in a variety of industries.
While these types of job interviews may sound intimidating, there’s good news. They give candidates an idea of what it will actually be like to work in that role on a daily basis.
“Fear not. Because these interviews require a high degree of engagement, they are more collaborative and a better experience overall than traditional interviews in which candidates have to sweat through a series of stress-inducing questions.”
How to Prepare for Exercise-Based Interviews
So how do you prepare for such interviews?
In some ways, you’d prepare similarly to how you would prepare for any ordinary interview by researching as much as you can about the company and the position.
Your research should especially include all the information companies make available on their hiring and interview process. This can also be found on sites such as Glassdoor.com.
If you can’t find this type of information, you can (and should) ask questions about the interview process as soon as you’ve received an invitation for an interview.
Know the problem BEFORE you go into the interview and have a solution prepared.
You also want to ask what the main priority or goal should be of the next person in that position, BEFORE the interview. Never wait until the interview to ask this question!
Find out what challenge or problem this person will be expected to help solve. Once you have this information, use it to prepare for the interview in ways I’ve outlined in my post Modern Interview Advice to Make You Stand Out From the Competition (this ain’t your grandma’s — or even your mom’s — interview advice!).
The approach described in that post will help you in preparing for case studies, presentations, or problem solving scenarios.
Ask the right questions
The other way to prepare for such interviews is to make it a two-way street. You do this by preparing the right kind of questions of your own.
Like I said above, asking what will be the top priority of the new person in the role is NOT a question you want to ask during the interview. (By then it will be too late to ask that.) But there are more appropriate questions you should ask during the interview.
In fact, certain questions you ask can actually help you win the interview! That’s how I landed my very first job offer. I was told I was hired based on the type of questions I asked them!
To find out exactly which questions you should ask in the interview, read my post The One Tip That Guarantees a Good Interview.
Knowledge is the Beginning of Preparation
No matter what type of interview you’re faced with, you can’t go in and just “wing it.”
You have to be prepared.
Knowledge is the beginning of that preparation. Become knowledgeable of the above items, and you’ll shine!
Click here for more interview prep tips.