Targeted Selection Interview: Definition and Tips

Updated June 9, 2023

When applying for jobs, employers may ask you to take part in a targeted selection interview. Targeted selection interviews help employers establish how you could benefit their business in the future, based on your previous professional experiences. By researching more about what to expect during your targeted selection interview, you can increase your confidence and maximize your chances of landing the job.

In this article, we define targeted selection interviews and why employers use this type of interview format, and we list common targeted selection interview questions with tips and examples for how to answer them.

Related: How To Prepare for a Behavioral Interview

What is a targeted selection interview?

A targeted selection interview is a type of interview format where employers select key job responsibilities and formulate questions that help them gauge a candidate's experience. These questions typically ask candidates to relay information from their past jobs or situations where they had to demonstrate a job trait.

Related: How To Prepare for a Technical Interview

Why do employers use targeted selection interview formats?

Employers use targeted selection interview formats because it helps them evaluate whether a candidate's previous work experience and personal traits qualify them for the job in question. Ultimately, employers want to learn more about a candidate's past work performance to see whether they could contribute to successful business operations at their company.

Related: Job Cast: Showcasing Your Skills

Common targeted selection interview questions

Review these common targeted selection interview questions to understand the types of answers an employer wants:

1. Can you tell me about a decision you made in your previous job that you regretted? What would you have done differently if you had another chance?

By asking this question, employers want to learn more about how you handle setbacks, rather than the actual setback itself. This is because they understand that professionals have to take chances and make decisions that might not always work out. They want a candidate to show them what they learned from their mistakes and what they would do now, based on their experience.

2. What examples can you provide that highlight your ability to problem-solve when there isn't anyone available to help you?

When employers interview candidates for a job that requires a lot of independent work, they use targeted selection interview questions about problem-solving and working independently. These questions help employers determine whether a candidate could solve problems on their own.

3. How do you approach stressful situations in the workplace? What examples can you provide?

This question allows employers to evaluate a candidate's ability to handle stress at work. Employers may ask this question for high-stress jobs to see if a candidate has the coping skills to complete quality work under pressure.

4. What project are you most proud of? Can you explain your thought process and the project's outcome?

By asking this question, employers want to understand a candidate's level of creativity and their previous professional experiences that apply to the job in question. This helps employers make important decisions about a candidate's ability to develop unique project ideas to contribute to company operations. This is a useful targeted selection question for employers interviewing candidates for sales, marketing, IT or HR positions.

5. Can you tell me about how you communicate with your boss, coworkers and customers at work?

When a job requires a lot of interpersonal communication, employers use targeted selection interview questions to make sure candidates have the right communication tactics. In an answer, they may want to learn more about the communication channels a candidate uses and how they adjust their communication tactics depending on who they speak with.

6. What self-motivating strategies do you use to meet or exceed your job goals?

Employers ask candidates questions on how they motivate themselves to gauge their ability to strive for excellence, even in the absence of an authority figure. From this, employers can decide whether a candidate could perform a role that has little supervision.

7. Based on your previous experience working in groups, what would you say is your natural role in a group setting?

When an employer asks questions about group dynamics, they want to learn more about how you could contribute to a department or project team. A good candidate answer should reflect the qualities listed in the job description. For example, if you interview for a team leader position, demonstrate your natural role in a group setting as a leadership figure.

8. How did you prioritize tasks in your last job?

This question helps employers determine a candidate's ability to identify the most important, or timely tasks to focus on first. Employers might show an interest in a candidate if they provide examples that show their ability to complete tasks in the correct order and prevent delays in business procedures.

9. Can you give me an example from previous jobs where you had to give presentations on a regular basis? How did you prepare?

Employers ask this question when they interview a candidate for a position that includes frequent public speaking duties. They have to determine whether a candidate has the right background experience to create presentation materials and speak clearly in front of an audience.

10. Have you ever disagreed with a decision made by upper management? How did you react?

By asking this question, employers want to learn more about a candidate's previous relationship with higher-ups at their workplace. They also want to determine whether a candidate has the right skills to address the matter in a professional manner.

Related: Interview Question: Describe Your Current Job Responsibilities

Tips for preparing for targeted selection interviews

There are several ways you can prepare for a targeted selection interview. Review these tips to help you prepare for a targeted selection interview with an employer:

Review the job description

When preparing for a targeted selection interview, the job description can provide you with important information about what questions employers may ask. This is because employers use targeted selection interviews to learn more about a candidate's expertise in specific areas. For example, a job description includes attention to detail, optimism and teamwork as essential skills for a candidate to have. Because of this, you focus your attention on preparing to answer questions about those three skill areas.

Think of examples to highlight your employable qualities

Using specific traits and preferable qualifications listed in the job description, think of specific examples from your past jobs you could include in your answers. This ensures that you have a wide range of experiences to talk about during your interview that emphasize your employable qualities. It also helps employers evaluate you more effectively because they can review multiple scenarios.

Research targeted selection interview questions

Complete an online search to help you get an idea of the types of targeted selection interview questions employers might ask for your specific job role or industry of employment. You can use these questions to develop more examples and gain confidence ahead of your interview date.

Practice answering targeted selection questions

Before your interview, make sure you take the time to practice answering targeted selection questions out loud. You can do this by yourself or enlist the help of a family member or friend. They might be able to give you useful constructive feedback to help you streamline your answers.

Tips for successfully answering targeted selection interview questions

Here are a few tips to help you successfully answer targeted selection interview questions:

Pay attention to repeated skills or character traits

During your interview, make a mental note of skills or character traits that your interviewer continues to mention. This could be a sign that they're searching for a more specific or detailed answer regarding a skill.

Related: 10 Ways To Impress a Hiring Manager During an Interview

Provide multiple examples

When answering questions about workplace experiences or job skills, include one or two brief examples besides your primary example. This gives you the chance to elaborate further on your experiences and gives employers the opportunity to ask follow-up questions that carry the interview forward.

Make answers as in-depth as you can

The more in-depth your answers are, the more believable they are to employers. In-depth answers also help you maximize your interview time and demonstrate to an employer that you know how to hold a conversation. Overall, making sure you explain your answers helps employers make connections between you and the job in question.

Ask the interviewer if they'd like more information

After you finish your answer, ask the interviewer if they want an additional example or more explanation. By doing this, you have the chance to clarify confusing details or provide a different example to help an employer fairly evaluate your capabilities.


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