It’s entirely possible that during your next job interview, you’ll be answering questions posed by a psychologist, rather than a human resources person or a manager. The practice of bringing in mentally astute interviewers is a growing trend, according to a report in "U.S. News and World Report." So if you think you can fool the psychologist during an interview, or hide behind a good game face -- think again.
When companies hire an outside consultant -- a psychologist -- to handle their interviews, you can expect a more unbiased interview. Managers and HR professionals aren’t as tuned in to stereotypical thinking and may judge candidates based on preconceptions. Very often, an interviewer makes a decision based on appearances or what school you attended. Psychologists, on the other hand, understand their own biases and can remove those from the hiring equation.
Expect to take an abundance of written tests when you interview with a psychologist. The goal of the tests is to find out if you’ll be successful in the role you’re after. A psychologist can analyze your answers to seemingly unrelated questions and come to a conclusion about your motivations, skills and propensities. Psychologists are trained to read assessment tests and make judgments based on those findings. They’ll relay their evaluation to the hiring manager who can then use the results in a second interview.
When interviewing with a psychologist, you can expect a structured interview because mental health professionals understand the nuances that can occur in an unstructured environment that’s more like a conversation. Structured interviews follow a pre-arranged set of questions. All job applicants are given the same questions and their answers are rated. Those with higher ratings are given second interviews. Psychologists create these kinds of structured interviews to assess skills and talents, rather than focusing on personality, which is much less effective for finding the right candidates. For example, friendly, outgoing people are often perceived as being more intelligent than they really are.
An outside psychological consultant is going to be tougher to fool than the manager you'll be working under. Psychologists come to the interview armed with questions that reveal your leadership abilities. She won’t be threatened by your assertiveness and may actually give you points for it. Prepare to answer questions that reveal your attitudes toward a diverse workplace and how well you work with others. Psychologists are more adept at finding character flaws so be prepared for personal questions that may seem awkward. Psychologists aren't afraid to play rough so that they can measure your ability to handle stress.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."