How To Answer Job Interview Questions

Annette Lewis | How To Answer

Doing well in a job interview has nothing to do with luck!

Neither is it simply a question of experience. Nor is it a measure of your suitability for the job.

Unfair as it may seem, succeeding in an interview has everything to do with giving winning interview answers to what are very often predictable questions.

The fact is the same interview questions arise time and again.

Know how to answer your interview questions and you greatly increase your chances of a job offer. But where do you begin?

General Guidelines To Answer Interview Questions

These are my general guidelines which I give to candidates I coach. They are very simple and easy to remember and can make a big difference to the way you communicate.

1. Always use “I”: The interviewer wants to hear about you and your achievements so always use ‘I’ when giving interview answers. Use it even if the task was a group
achievement, avoiding the use of ‘We’ as this can suggest that you were not heavily involved.

2. Blow your own Trumpet: Avoid the use of qualifying phrases which weaken your answer, for example if asked about your strengths, avoid statements such as:

“Well, I think I am quite good at communicating”

A more powerful interview answer is one which is direct and clear such as:

“I am an excellent communicator.”

3. Be a Giver not a Taker: Be mindful at all times that the interviewer is interested in what you can do for them as an employer and not the other way around. So for
example, when asked why you want the job, it is better to say:

‘I have a, b and c skills to bring to this role.’

rather than

‘It is a good career move for me‘ or ‘The salary is higher than my current one.

4. Answer the question that has been asked: Keep your interview answers relevant and avoid the temptation to give an unrelated response no matter how useful you think the information is. This can give the impression either that you have not listened to the interview question or that you are unfocussed and unable to communicate effectively.

5. Give Examples: Very often you will be asked to talk about situations where you demonstrated a particular skill and it is wise to prepare relevant and recent examples in advance. Stay focused and give relevant, brief and concise responses.

6. Demonstrate all your Skills: When giving examples in your interview answer, choose scenarios which demonstrate more than one key skill. For example, if the question is asking you to talk about a time when you demonstrated good interpersonal skills, talk about a situation where you used these skills effectively but also demonstrates maybe your Leadership skills AND your Managerial Effectiveness AND your Planning Skills. Use this technique selectively however, avoiding the temptation to fill every answer with every single skill you can think of.

Tips To Answer Any Interview Question Brilliantly

During the exploration stage of the job interview both the interviewer and the candidate will ask questions and partake in a dialogue. This is a two way process designed to see how closely the interviewee matches in terms of capability, commitment and fit.

A successful outcome hinges on how well this dialogue progresses and how effectively the candidate answers the questions. For many, this can prove daunting however the ability to answer job interview questions effectively is a skill that can be learned by anyone.

Here are some additional simple tips for answering questions which I have found to be very useful:

1. Don’t waffle:
Stay focused and give relevant, brief, concise answers. Avoid giving superfluous information.

2. Be honest:
Don’t exaggerate or add on something which you did not do. You will probably be caught out and in the event that you are not and you get the job, you may find that you
are unable to carry out some of your duties causing untold stress for yourself.

3. Throw ‘hooks’:
For example, if you were involved in some great achievement and the interviewer has not yet asked about it, you can throw what we call a hook which is a statement at the
end of an answer which is designed to whet the interviewer’s appetite and encourage them to ask you to expand. You can then talk more about this particular achievement.

Prepare Your Answers in Advance

It is unwise to just show up at an interview without considering the questions you might be asked and how you would answer them. This is probably the greatest mistake made
by interviewees and so many think that they just have to talk about their CV or Resume and that will be enough. In my experience it rarely works and I suggest making a list of the questions you think they will ask and then creating answers for each.

The Job description is a good place to start as this will list the requirements of the job along with the competencies expected. For each, create an answer including a clear example of a situation you have been in or a task you completed where you demonstrated you skills superbly. Practice again and again until it is fresh in your mind and you can give your answer in the interview smoothly and fluidly.

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