The world and beyond – Surviving in the economic jungle

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting 17: Tips for answering interview questions

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Following on from last week’s Toastmasters inspired blog; this is how they suggest interview questions are handled:

When it comes to interviewing, the key word is relevance. You always want to respond to questions in the most relevant way. Don’t tell your life story if the interviewer asks about your background. Instead, mention only those experiences, skills and other qualifications that would apply to the job or organisation.

Be sure to listen to the entire question before answering. Interrupting the interviewer with rehearsed chunks of information about yourself can be perceived as being rude and interruptive, and also reflect poor listening skills. Always ensure you take the time to fully listen and understand the question being asked, and do your best to answer it directly.

You also want to be concise and concrete in your replies. Share specifics about things you have done and relate those to how you can contribute to the organisation by noting similarities between your background and the job or company.

Never answer questions in a negative fashion, such as saying something bad about your current job, supervisor or organisation. If you don’t have experience in a specific area, don’t lie, be defensive or apologise. Remember you’re being interviewed, so you already have enough on your CV of what the employer wants. Instead, talk about how you’re a fast learner and give specific examples of how you developed a new skill or knowledge base quickly in the past, or offer ideas of how you would tackle the challenge.

Taking notes can help

Help yourself to focus on specifics during the interview through jotting down relevant discussion points, or preparing some beforehand. Notes can help you remember what was said when you evaluate the opportunity objectively later. It also provides specific information to incorporate in your thank you letter later. Just make sure you keep it brief and maintain eye contact throughout the interview.

Having a notepad with you can be very helpful during the interview. You can have your questions written down to help you remember them. You can also have a small list of the points you want to make about your background, your relevant skills, and other things you want to share. But don’t have your CV in front of you; you should know all that information without prompting.

More interview tips next week!


Written by Cathy Richardson

June 8, 2011 at 9:00 am

Posted in Recruitment

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