Ace interview questions with the right answers.
Answering Job Interview Questions
Nothing will kill an interview faster than the wrong answers to questions. I have been through about 100 interviews in my career. Through all of them, nothing was more important than watching an interviewee think and respond to a question. Most often, it was not the answer but how they thought and responded.
Answering interview questions correctly starts with being prepared. With a thorough understanding of the job and the company in hand, here’s how to ace some common interview questions.
Your first interview question is likely to be, “Tell me about yourself!” Instead of getting personal, use a purposeful statement that presents your best skills and experience. “I’m an experienced marketing professional with a successful track record crafting strategies that create new customer revenue.” “At ABC, one of my programs exceeded expectations with a $500,000 result.” “Do you measure the success of your marketing based on dollars or another measure?”
When it comes to talking about work history, frame your interview answers around results, achievements and activities. Use specific examples that have a direct bearing on the new job. “My experiences have led to a real strength in mid-market CRM technology.” “At ABC, I worked with the developers to address the top improvements our customers wanted.” “We brought 30 new$50,000 customers on board.” Remember to answer with short, focused, positive statements; “I’m a seasoned office manager.” “At ABC, I cut expenses and I managed employees through tough workloads and deadlines with $1,000 monthly savings.” “I can do it again.”
Interview questions about job departures deserve a truthful, carefully designed response.
“My last job was not a good fit.” “I didn’t get to use my expertise in cost savings and A/P and A/R management.” “This job is better aligned to my strengths.”
What about negative or uncomfortable interview questions, like, “What are your weaknesses?” Turn negatives into positives with actions you’ve taken to compensate. “I’ve had problems with organization, but I took some time management classes that have really turned things around.” “Now, I meet deadlines and even finish ahead of schedule.” Research brings confidence with compensation questions; “I know the range for this type of job is between $50,000 and $65,000 per year.” “I’m comfortable in that range, and am open to discussion.”
The parting interview question will likely be, “Why should we hire you, why do you want this job?” Leave a great impression behind! Pick one or two examples of skills and accomplishments, and apply them to the new job. “I’ve consistently saved employers money.””My work at ABC saved more than $1,000 a month.” “I’m confident I can do the same here.” “This company has the environment, the culture and the opportunity I’m looking for.” “I’m committed to my future doing a great job for you.”
You will end up getting many more questions that you may not predict. For these, take time before jumping to an answer. Once you say something, you can’t take it back. Think about the question and look to use these common tactics:
- Are there multiple right answers? If so, verbalize them in your response and then discuss why you would choose one over the others.
- Does the question pertain to something you have little or no experience? If so, answer by saying “This is an area where I would seek out information from other experts. I would first look internally to see if anyone had experience with this sort of situation, then I would look to outside experts or materials to learn how others approached this type of situation.” This answer shows you work with others to find the best solution and you seek knowledge rather than winging it.
- Does the question relate to a process or diagram? If so, draw it. In most cases, the interviewer will participate with you in the question. When the interviewer engages, you are collaborating with them moving you way up compared to other candidates. Remember, people hire people they like.
Remember, job interview questions don’t need to be difficult. Spend some time preparing, be honest, and be excited.
Now you are ready for the big test.