How to answer interview questions
This article is the third in our How to get a job series. Congratulations! Your extensive job hunting efforts, covering letters, and CV have succeeded in getting you a job interview. Before we look at how to answer interview questions let's take a look at what you need to do to prepare for the big day so that you stand out above your competitors.
Put yourself in the interviewers place and write a list of all the questions you think may be asked. Then tick them off as you come up with a good answer for each one. Get a friend to help with some role play so that you can practice being an interviewee. If you have a relative or friend with experience of conducting interviews, even better. Do some research. Make sure you know as much as you can about the company and the job you are applying for. I once went for a job interview as an industrial salesman. As part of my research I visited one of their customer companies to find out why people bought from them. Whilst I was there I persuaded the owner to give me a substantial order to take into the interview. The director interviewing me was stunned, as this had never happened before. I got the job, and went on to become top salesman and then General Manager within that company.
On the day, make sure you are scrupulously clean and well dressed. Did you know that the interviewer will form a subconscious opinion about you within 15 seconds of meeting you? You don't want to be rejected before you have opened your mouth, so be smart. Talking of which, use a breath spray or suck a mint before going in to avoid off-putting bad breath.
Arrive at the venue at least five minutes early - do NOT be late. When you go in, remember the 15 second rule. Greet each interviewer with a firm handshake and a smile,making eye contact. If you get a firm handshake in return you have done well and got your early positive response. When asked to sit, do not be afraid to move the chair so that you can make eye contact with every interviewer. Sit up straight, be happy, alert, and confident. I tell myself that I am interviewing them as prospective employers, nit the other way around. That approach goes a long way to foster self-confidence and prevent nervous tension. In more than 40 years of working life I have been to a lot of job interviews and I have never failed to be offered the job. I haven't always accepted it but the offer was always made. Have extra copies of your CV with you in case they are needed for additional interviewers, and take a notepad and pen too. Taking notes is a sign of interest and respect.
How to answer interview questions
The best simple advice I can give is to answer questions honestly and directly, making eye contact with the questioner, then moving your eyes to include the other interviewers, then back to the questioner again. Listen to questions carefully and think about your answer before you deliver it. Do not feel that you have to answer quickly or talk fast. Do not use slang or profanities in your speech, and make sure you adhere to all of the basic grammar rules. A candidate that displays poor knowledge of his native language is unlikely to get the job.
A good interviewer will ask open questions. These are questions to which the answer is not a simple yes or no. When you supply the answer, do not go off topic and make sure you answer what was asked and not what you THINK was asked. Briefly embellish your answer if it will help the interviewers understand your desire for the job. e.g.: "What did you achieve at your last job?" Answer: "I doubled the sales in the first year, then went on to become top salesperson in the company. It is the potential for sales growth in your company that is one big attraction of this job.".
In your preparation you will have already anticipated questions like: "Why do you want this job?"; "What do you know about our company?"; "What is your greatest weakness?": and :"What strengths can you bring to us if you get the job?" and your answers will be in your head. Nevertheless, pause to think and consider before you answer and don't rattle your reply off like something learned by heart.
You will inevitably be asked if you have any questions when the interviewers have asked theirs. You should never say; "No". You should have been taking notes and jotted down a couple of questions as a result of the interview dialogue, and have a couple of fail-safe questions prepared before you arrived. Do NOT ask questions about the remuneration. Ask questions that show you have been listening and have done your research, like: "You mentioned earlier that you have the latest CNC machinery. I read on your web site that it uses eco-friendly fuel. What production levels does it achieve?" If a start date has not been discussed during the interview your last question should be: "When can I start working with you?" - Now that you know how to answer interview questions you have everything you need to get on the success ladder for your chosen career. Good luck!