Job Interviews: How to Answer Any Question

Are you ready for your next job interview?

Quick! List every question you might be asked, and write down the answers to those questions.

Just kidding. No one can do that. No one should do that. Instead, list 10 questions you might be asked, and write down the answers to those questions. Now, rip up that piece of paper and recycle it.

Next, think about HOW you will answer interview questions, the likely ones and the surprising ones, too. You can not anticipate every question. But if you think through your process, you will easily be able to respond to whatever anyone throws at you. All you have to do is listen, pause and respond. That’s it.

#1 Listen. Did you hear all the parts of the question? Do you understand what is being asked? Repeat it aloud or in your head, or even jot a couple words from the question in your notebook so you will remember the whole question.

#2 Pause. It’s okay to think through your answer, even very briefly, before spitting something out.Think about it. Why did someone ask that question? For example, asking someone if they get to travel much might be an icebreaker, or might be an indicator that this job requires travel. Understanding the role and the purpose behind the question will tell you whether to casually comment on your epic spring break trip, or to professionally describe your international purchasing experience.

#3 Respond. To all parts, concisely. If your answer is going to be long and detailed, break it into parts and check in with your audience to be sure you are keeping them captivated (or at least awake).

Responding to behavioral interviews can be tricky, because people skip parts of the question when they answer. If the question starts, “Tell me about a time…” that’s a behavioral interview question and you should answer in three parts: Here’s the situation, here’s what I did about it, and this was the outcome. Situation, Action, Outcome. Practice telling your career stories using the Situation – Action – Outcome formula because behind every question is a “Tell me about it.”

Listen. Pause. Respond. Practice telling your stories and you’ll be ready for any interview, anytime. Good luck!

Interview Prep

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