In helping you prepare for your next job interview, I wanted to relate the most common mistakes candidates make when giving answers to questions during job interviews:
In answering interview questions you should provide vivid examples. You could probably get by with an answer that at least referred to the organization or yourself. But when you give an answer that sounds like a prepared response, it bombs! An example of a generic sounding answer would be, “I work well as part of a team,” and “I’m very interested in the kind of work your company does.” By being well prepared for your job interview, having done all your research, you can avoid this mistake.
Some candidates present themselves like politicians by not being able to give a straight answer. If you don’t understand the question, ask the interviewer to please rephrase or clarify their question. Repeat the question in your own words then answer as accurately as you can. When you’re finished, you can ask, “I’m not sure if this answered your question. Was there something I missed or left out?”
In all likelihood you will face interview questions that you’re not prepared for. Before responding, you need to think the question through and devise a good answer. If you speak before thinking you may end up sputtering out “ums” and “ughs,” which is not a good sound. Or you could give a totally random answer that does not pertain to the question. What should you do in this situation? Calm down and take a deep breath. It’s perfectly appropriate to say, “That’s a good question; I’ll just take a few moments to collect my thoughts.” If you are still unsure about your answer, try breaking it down into segments, beginning your answer with something you feel confident about.
In answering an interview question you should take anywhere from twenty seconds to two minutes. Never give one-word answers, like “yes” or “no.” This is your chance to shine and to do so you must answer appropriate questions in a thorough manner by providing important details. When you sense that you’ve said enough, stop yourself. But if you feel there’s more, you can say, “If you want more details, I can provide them.” Most likely the interviewer will simply move on. When answers go on too long, interviewers have a tendency to just to zone out.
The purpose of an interview is to establish a relationship, to have a rapport between you and the person interviewing you. If they’re just blasting questions at you one after another, you won’t be doing yourself any favors if you can’t turn this into a conversation. If you are asked, “What was the most challenging problem you had to overcome on a project?” when finished answering, you can ask, “What kinds of challenges do people face in their jobs here?”
When you provide strong answers to interview questions, you leave a good impression. You need to practice before you head out for the interview by researching the company online so that you can be ready with brief answers that in fact answer the questions posed to you in the interview.
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