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Understanding the Nondirective Job Interview

A nondirective interview is a type of job interview that rewards you for leading the discussion. Nondirective interviews often occur when you meet line managers who don’t know much about professional interviewing.

Questions in a nondirective interview tend to be broad and general so that you can elaborate and tell all kinds of terrific stories about yourself. A few questions may reveal key areas of the employer’s needs. These questions may sound at first as though they’re critical incidents, but in this loose-limbed interview, the interviewer probably doesn’t assume that he or she knows the answers.

Examples of nondirective interview questions include the following:

We had a problem employee last quarter who revealed information about our marketing strategies to a competitor — how would you handle this situation?
You understand some of the difficulties this department faces — how would you approach these in your first four months?
Tell me about your goals in the next five years and how this position fits in with them.
Your resume shows you have a degree in Spanish and another in computer science — how do you plan to use both of these in this position?

Carry agenda cards or a small notebook with a list of your qualifications and a list of questions about the company. When you have to carry the ball, working from notes can be a lifesaver if you have a leaky memory.

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