Case Study – Communications and the Interview

You have been invited to interview for a job. Is the hard work in the job hunt over? No, just transitioning to another phase: You are now competing with the best candidates for this job and doing well in the interview sessions is critical.  Once the interviews of all the candidates is over, the interviewers cull all the candidates into a final list of 2 or 3 finalist for the job.  Making a positive impact on the interviewers during the interviewing sessions may trigger their advocacy for you to join the finalist group.

You should assume that all candidates being interviewed can do the technical part of the job. Is there another skill that most organizations would greatly favor? Is there a skill that you could demonstrate during the interview sessions that could give you an advantage?  There is, and it is your communication skill when delivering your answers to interviewer questions. Communication skill is always one of the top three job skills that are most important in contributing to successful job performance.

Let us assume you can carefully craft your answers for the expected interview questions, and you can even deliver them in the preferred STAR format.  STAR format is the answer format when you are expecting Behavioral Based Questions. These are the type of interview questions that ask, “Tell me about the most recent time you made an improvement in your lab operations.”  STAR format requires a response that presents the Situation you faced, the Task you had to accomplish, the Actions you personally performed, and the Results of your efforts: STAR.  But, just about every candidate knows about STAR and this alone may not be enough to get the impact necessary to make the final cut.

OK, let us raise the communication performance bar and add a “social intelligence” strategy and technique.  The strategy of “Social Intelligence” calls for you to tailor your answers to interviewer questions in a manner that will add value to the work responsibilities of the interviewer.  In other words, we go beyond having one answer you would recite in STAR format for all the interviewers. Instead, you will modify your answer for each interviewer based on their role, job, or position in the company.


You have been informed by Human Resources that you will be interviewed by your future Boss, a Project Manager, and a representative from Human Resources.  Let us use the same question about an “improvement in lab operations” and add the social intelligence modification to the answer.  You can use the same most recent work experience situation as requested in the interviewer question.  How will the socially intelligent answer vary for each interviewer if they were to ask the lab improvement question? Here are the socially intelligent considerations that will drive your tailored answers for each interviewer:

Future Boss will most likely want a detailed description of the technical aspect of your decision to improve, the technical considerations of your alternative solutions, the technical changes in the process, the performance results of your improvement and current status of the improvement that also reveal your deep technical knowledge.

The Project Manager may or may not have a technical background and will be more interested in how you coordinated the improvement with users of the lab, the impact on work schedules, were there cost considerations and will this improvement provide additional work capability for the lab.

And Human Resources will want to know how you organized the group to make the improvement, did any individuals have special training in the method used to discover alternative solutions, and would this improvement and/or the improvement process be of benefit to other company operations.

Point:   The social intelligent technique tailors your answer to the focus and responsibilities of each interviewer. You are making yourself “valuable” to the interviewer by communicating in a manner that is inclusive and respectful of their work contributions.  How you can make their job easier if they hire you!

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