How to Answer Interview Questions

Go to Blog Home | By: Joe McDermott | Updated: 12 December, 2021 | Category: How to Answer, Interview Advice

How to Answer Interview Questions

So we now come to a topic which occupies the minds of most interview candidates; how to answer the interview questions correctly and successfully. Surely this is just the same as having a conversation you ask?

In one sense it is however the reality is that communicating in a job interview is very different than having a ‘chat’ and in this article I give some of my top tips for giving great answers.

The job interview is a hurdle that has to be jumped but you need not, and should not, rely solely on luck to succeed. Being successful in an interview is all about providing creditable answers to questions that are often quite predictable in scope and nature. Correct interview technique can be learned to a considerable extent, and by taking on board some of the tips here you can increase your chances of a successful interview and a suitable job offer at the end of it.

1. Don’t be afraid to boast:

Be positive about your answers and not self-deprecating or modest in any way. If asked about your skills, don’t qualify your answer with words or phrases that show doubt, such as “I think I am good at planning and organisation.” You should be confident with strong, convincing answers such as “I am an excellent planner and organiser.”

2. Tell them what are you bringing rather than taking:

Remember that interviewers are looking for skills and abilities that will be useful to them, so you need to bring to their attention the benefits for them by employing you. For example, if asked about why you want the job it is better to say, “I believe it will give me a better chance to use my skills”, rather than, “It seems like a good offer with a higher salary than I have at present.”

3. Answer the question that has been asked.

Might seem obvious however I have seen so many candidates who firstly don’t listen and then give an unrelated response. This is a waste of everybody’s time. Make sure you listen carefully to the whole question first, before starting to formulate an answer in your mind. Jumping too soon may mean missing the real point of a question. If you are not sure about the question you should ask for it to be repeated or to be clarified. Remain focused on answering the question as accurately as possible without wandering off topic. It is important to be clear and concise, and above all, give relevant answers.

4. Favour answering in the first person

Always use the first person when answering interview questions to show that you are speaking for yourself and are self- motivated and self-confident. A third person reply is impersonal and comes across as rather weak and might imply a lack of strength of character. Saying something like “We completed…” or “We delivered…” suggests your own views and ambitions tend to subjugated by the will of the group and you lack confidence in your own opinions.

5. Give evidence through examples

You may well be asked to give an example of a situation that you have handled successfully, or where you have demonstrated clear abilities, so it is essential to be prepared for this. Try to think about recent cases which could show you in a good light, or challenges that you have overcome, and be prepared to talk about them.

6. Become a master storyteller

A short story to illustrate your point often helps your case so long as it is relevant, and shows that you learn from experience. It is best to not be flippant or try to be funny as this may give the impression that you’re not serious about your work. Again, you should be fairly concise and not take up too much time by rambling on.

Use a phrase inserted into the answer to a question to draw the interviewer’s interest to particular points or achievements that you want to especially bring out and talk about.

7. Demonstrate your flexibility and versatility

Within reason and keeping item 4 above in mind, try to demonstrate your versatility and abilities in several areas rather than just one when answering questions or giving examples of recent scenarios.

If, for example, you are asked to describe a situation where you showed good interpersonal skills, it would be more impressive if you were able to talk about a case that showed you as a decision maker and leader, as well a planner and organiser. You should, however, be careful not to overdo it and look as though you are making things up to impress.

8. Answer Competency Based questions

You will be asked Competency Based Interview questions and its best to have some answers ready. You will find specific competency questions and answers here.

9. Tell them what they want to hear

Although an interviewer will ask about your previous experience and achievements he will really be more interested in what you can do for the company in the future.

You should endeavour to talk about past accomplishments in a manner that shows how well they prepare you for the tasks ahead. You need to thoroughly research the company you hope to join and match up your skills and experience to what may be expected of you in the job to come.

10. Do Not Lie

Although it can be tempting to embellish or alter the truth sometimes, it should always be resisted since lies have a way of coming to the surface one way or another. Being found to have lied undermines your whole credibility and does untold harm. Honesty and integrity are seen by employers as absolutely crucial qualities in the people they employ to represent their company. Being branded a liar is at best, extremely embarrassing, and at worst could cost you your job, or even your reputation. Even if a lie is never discovered it is always a source of niggling stress that can reduce your day to day confidence in the job in case it might be found out.

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About the Author |
Joe McDermott is CEO of Anson Reed the UK's leading interview coaching specialists and founder of the successful InterviewGold online interview training system. Since 2006, Joe and his team of top interview coaches have helped thousands of clients win jobs and in this blog they offer their expert advice - all to make sure you get your top post.