Having sat on several interview boards recently, I thought I would share some hints that could give you the edge you need to get the job offer.
It seems that each field and each set of interviewers have different ideas on how one should answer job interview questions. Some are listening for buzz words like “team player” or “best practices” while others are seeking the unique and authentic applicant who does not follow the herd or return with pat or cliché answers. So how to answer job interview questions is not—as one can see from the multiple advice books and pamphlets—all that streamlined in method or manner.
At the same time, there are certain techniques that go into the process to answer job interview questions that will land you the job. Some of what I have read up on, studied, and practiced myself are as follows:
ANSWER JOB INTERVIEW QUESTIONS as YOU WOULD WANT TO HEAR THEM
Instead of getting all in a bind by stressing over how well you will or will not do in the interview, remind yourself (repeatedly, if necessary) that the interviewer or interview panel is composed of the human element. The people interviewing you have not only had to work to come up with ideal job descriptions and ideal open-ended questions, they have also likely had to go on interviews themselves. They want to be respected, but they also want to be real and have you be real too. The more relaxed and amiable you are the better, for these people will want to work with you. Keep eye contact with all echelons and genders (rather than just speaking to the one who asked the question or just the men or just the head honcho).
ANSWER JOB INTERVIEW QUESTIONS in THEIR LANGUAGE and to COMPLETION
Answer the question in the form of the question. That is, use the language to answer that the interviewers used to ask: if they ask you what the most important components of the V-tech are to you, respond with “The most important components of the V-tech are….” To keep yourself straight, use the popular bulleted method—saying there are three parts to X, 1…, 2…, 3…, and being sure to follow through with three if you announce three or four if you announce four. Also, many questions are intentionally two-parted. A question might be how do you see the problem of attrition and what would you bring to the problem to solve it? Be sure to answer BOTH parts of the question.
ANSWER JOB INTERVIEW QUESTIONS with a MODICUM of HUMOR
If it is all appropriate, use a moderate sense of humor. If they ask you a strange question, smile and admit that this is indeed a great question—which compliments them and admits you have not memorized and churned out a bunch of rote answers that are obviously the signs of a green player. Tell them you will explore that further if necessary, fill in with potential, future ambition, positive forward-looking responses. It’s okay not to know everything.
And if you place so much stake on being the ONE out of hundreds applying to get the job and you DON’T get it, remember the comments of many actors who have gone on auditions as a tall redhead woman when the part and the director and casting directing are calling for a short, fat, gray-haired man. They have a slot they know how they want filled, and you may just not have a God-given attribute that will fit. It is not necessarily about you in the case, even if it feels like it is. Apply, apply, apply, and interview, interview, interview. You may even find that getting a job will disappoint you as you will no longer be able to continue the fun adventure that is interviewing and practicing!
Keeping these simple hints in mind will give you the edge over your competition and get you the offers you want.