Interview Depth :: Methods and Motives

We often receive feedback from our clients after a Career Conference that some of the JMOs they interviewed did not answer questions with depth. That is, they did not allow the hiring manager to see them in the role by demonstrating and explaining specifically what they did, how they did it and why it was important. Even in working with officers leading up to a Career Conference in “mock interviews,” I hear most officers focus only on “The What.”

“The What” gives the facts. It is natural to want to share an experience or explain a methodology by telling “The What.” The initial tendency for most, when answering interview questions, is to explain what happened from start to finish without ever giving methods or motives. “The What” is important because it provides context for the hiring manager. It is the vehicle that helps to tell a story or give steps in a process and is a vital part of any interview answer. “The What”, however, is simply the avenue to get into what the hiring manager is actually looking for, “The How” and “The Why.” Answering how and why lets hiring managers see your leadership. They give depth and credibility to your experience.

Assuming you are interviewing for a leadership role in a company, you will not only be evaluated for what you icebergdid, but also how you led (methods) and why you made decisions (motives). Hiring mangers will evaluate how you think, lead, influence, reach conclusions, persuade, lead without direct authority and why you did it that way. So in an interview, focus on explaining how you do things and why they were important to you or important in reaching the organization’s goal.

One pitfall to avoid: too much detail. Adding “The How” and “The Why” will certainly give depth to an interview answer, but it can also lend to going off on tangents and getting lost in the weeds. Be careful here – focus on delivering answers with depth (giving “The How” and “The Why”), but don’t feel like each element needs to be multiple paragraphs. Generally, think in sentences, not paragraphs.

Best of success,
Pete Van Epps