What is an "Experiential Interview?"
What is an “Experiential Interview?” This type of interview differs from the traditional approach because instead of relying on your opinion, it asks for concrete examples of what you’ve done in the past. In traditional interviews, you may be asked questions like “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” and “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” In the experiential interview, the questions typically begin with “tell me about a time when….” or “describe a situation in which…” or “give me an example of…”
The secret to success in the experiential interview is your preparation. There really are no wrong answers. The point of these questions is to get to know you and how you react in a variety of real-world situations. The most important thing is to be honest and practice your “stories” so they are clear and concise.
So how can you prepare?
- Really study the job description and identify the skills and competencies that the job requires.
- Think about the work you’ve done and how it relates to those skills that are needed. Describe what you have learned and determine what situations you can develop into stories to use in the interview.
- Re-read your past job performance reviews and re-visit your strengths as well as areas for improvement.
- List your accomplishments and any awards earned.
- Use the STAR Method for your response. That means: explain the Situation you faced, what Tasks were required, what Actions you took, and the Results you achieved. Keep it short and concise, but be sure to clearly convey your actions and results.
- Be honest. You may be asked a similar question in a different way to ensure you’re being consistent with your response.
- Practice out loud. This is important. You want to be able to tell your story without hesitation, but you don’t want to memorize it word-for-word. That seems robotic and rehearsed.
- Your answers should take 2 minutes or less.
The recruiter is trying to learn how you have behaved in the past given a particular situation and what you were able to contribute by your actions. He/she will use that information of past behavior to predict what you’re likely to do in the future.
In the hospitality industry, you may be faced with questions such as “how did you deal with a customer who was difficult to please?” You need to describe the situation, what the tasks were that you needed to accomplish, what actions you took to do that and what the result was… STAR.
Other typical questions you may face:
…may involve teamwork:
- Tell me about a time you worked closely with someone who had a very different personality than yours.
- Give me an example of a conflict you had with a team member and how you solved it.
- Explain how you were able to get needed information from someone who wasn’t very cooperative.
…or may involve customer service skills:
- Tell me about a time you were unable to meet a guest’s expectations and what you did about it.
- Describe a really difficult interaction with a guest and what happened.
- Give an example of how you made a great impression on a customer.
... or may involve communication skills:
- Tell me about a time when you were able to persuade a team member to agree to your approach.
- Describe a time when you had to explain something complex to a team member who was frustrated.
- Explain how you were able to communicate with a guest who doesn’t speak English as their first language.
Why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time for these types of questions:
- A lot of companies are using this approach to hire employees who will be a good fit for their culture and team, especially top-ranked companies you may want to approach for a job.
- Having these kinds of stories prepared makes it easier to network at industry events.
- You’ll have a running record of your accomplishments and see patterns for growth going forward.
- You’ll be able to recall ideas/processes that you used successfully before and try it again.
You will be judged on the quality of the examples you share and how concisely you can present them with measurable results. If you can clearly demonstrate all the competencies the recruiter is seeking in the job description, you’re well on your way to success!