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Learn these 5 sections of Interview Structure and Nail your next Job Interview

Job interviews are often a nerve-wracking experience for those who do not understand interview structure.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

Once you know what you are up against, you increase your chances of success multifold.

Job Interview Structure

Most interviews can be broken into five distinct parts.

Part 1. Rapport Building
Part 2. Questions on your background, experiences, qualifications, career goals
Part 3. Questions on your knowledge, skills, and abilities relevant to the job
Part 4. Questions to assess your ability to handle yourself in different situations
Part 5. Cool Down and taking questions from the candidate

Let’s quickly check which questions can be asked in each of these sections:

Part 1. Rapport Building

Any interview starts with rapport building with the candidate. This section can have very general questions and can be answered casually, yet smartly.

  • How was your journey?
    Have you been here before ? Did you get to see the city?
    Wow, that’s an interesting name you have got, do you know what it means?
  • All these questions are just ice-breakers.

Though you do have the option to display certain abilities through your witty responses.

Some smart (or well-prepared) candidates use it make a great first impression. to dictate the course of the interview. You will learn later in this book how to do that.

However, if you choose to keep neutral during this phase, it is perfectly okay.

Just do not utter something that sabotages your chances.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt !

– Abraham Lincoln

Part 2. Questions on your background, experiences, qualifications, career goals

This part of the interview focuses on your background and qualifications. This is where you interviewer will ask information about your educational background, work experience, technical qualifications, and any special skills or certifications that you may have. The interviewer will also ask questions about your goals and objectives, and will likely ask you to provide examples of how you have achieved success in prior positions.

Typical questions that are asked in this round are :

  • Tell me about yourself. (Undoubtedly the most dreaded question for the unprepared minds)
  • Walk me through your resume.
  • Your biggest achievement in your last job(s)
  • Your short term and long term goals

The beauty about this round is that you can guess almost 70% of these questions and prepare for them beforehand. I will reveal how to do that in a subsequent chapter on the “Interview Simulation Framework”.

Part 3. Questions on your knowledge, skills, and abilities relevant to the job

During this phase of a job interview, the interviewer will ask questions to assess your knowledge and skills related to the job. He is looking to determine whether you have the necessary qualifications to fill the position.

Questions will be based on the job description and may include topics such as specific functional experiences and skills, industry trends, and emerging technologies.

Remember, you must be prepared to quote examples of how you have applied your skills to previous positions. You will learn this book to prepare an impactful parable for each experience.

This section defines what you bring to the table and is also valuable from a negotiation angle that will come later.

Part 4. Your innate behavioural qualities – Behavioural questions

Next, the interviewer will assess how you handle yourself in various situations.

  • This is where behavioural questions come into play. Interviewer may ask questions such as :
    • Tell me about a time when you :
    • Failed in a project
    • Managed a difficult situation
    • Faced an ethical dilemma
    • Handled conflict with your manager
    • Convinced a group to work on your idea
  • What would you do if your customer called you and ….
  • What would you do if a member of your team resigned and..
  • Suppose you have to deliver a target in a week. How would you….

There can be as many questions as there are human qualities. The key to answer such questions is again in framing a great story. Be prepared to provide examples of how you have successfully handled difficult situations in the past.

We will pick up some of these questions in Level 3 change and try to dissect them to prepare good answers.

Part 5. Cool Down and taking questions from the candidate

This is the last part of the interview structure.

These questions are for cooling down. Just like an exhaustive workout, after concluding the difficult part, the interviewer wants to ease your stress and will ask you very generic questions like your job preferences, interests and hobbies, etc.

The interviewers may also ask you if you have any questions for them.

This is done to address your doubts about the company or the job or answer any specific questions you may have.

This section has to be handled very tactfully.
Ask only about topics that are not easily available on the internet or company website. Asking very generic questions may point towards your improper research and lack of passion.

While it is perfectly okay to reply negatively to this question, it is preferable to have one or two things to ask. It indicates that you really are interested in the company, because you will definitely have some queries about the job role or work culture or company, if you want to join them.

After this question, the interviewer will most likely close the interview. You must greet and shake hands if you are sitting close to the interviewers and leave with a smile and confidence.

The general interview process lasts anywhere between 20 min to an hour. Do not judge if it is too big or too small.

What is important is that you understand the interview structure well enough that you nail your next interview.

This post is an excerpt from my upcoming book on the topic.

Let me know in comments how you find it.


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With a trajectory spanning from engineer to Ex-President of Sales at Whitehat Jr, Gaurav Yadav is a dynamic leader and startup consultant. Armed with an MBA from the Indian School of Business, he scaled organizations to 5X+ multiples, hiring over 4000 team members. A strategic mind and influential CXO, Gaurav passionately guides careers and shapes startup growth strategies, leaving an indelible mark on every venture he touches.


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