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The Interview Game

Basics of Answering Interview Questions

Regardless of what type of question you are asked, you will find it easier to respond effectively if you keep in mind some basic question answering strategies.

You can never predict every question that you will encounter, so approach the interview with an inventory of important points. Make a list of the points about yourself that you want the interviewer to know. For example, if you were to apply for a job as a Sales Representative, you might want to list the products you have sold before, types of customers (by industry, age, etc.), languages spoken, personal experience in that industry and related knowledge.

  • Consider each question as an opportunity to provide some of the information you feel is important.
  • Don't assume anything. You will be evaluated on your answers, not your resume. Therefore, ensure you incorporate the relevant information from your resume in your answers.
  • Pause a couple of seconds before you respond to each question, even if you know exactly what you want to say. Take this time to quickly plan your answer, this helps to avoid misunderstandings and produces much more concise answers.
  • If you don't understand a question, ask for clarification. This is expected and is preferable to providing an unsuitable answer. Clarification of an illegal question is very important - you will be able to find out what the interviewer really wants to know, and how it relates to the position.
  • If you need time to collect your thoughts - take it. When people are nervous they tend either to “draw a blank” or to babble. It is better to think for a few moments and make sure that your answer is doing you justice and that there is a point to what you are saying.
  • Always expand. Never answer a question with a “yes” or “no.”
  • The interview is an opportunity for you to sell yourself. Don’t be afraid to “blow your own horn.” As long as you can back up what you are saying with examples which demonstrate that what you are saying is true, you are not bragging. Third party observations can also be mentioned. For example, “My last employer told me that I was promoted because of how I handled conflicts with clients.”
  • Be very positive. Don't complain about anything - from your former employer to the weather - and don't apologize for experience that you don't have. Just sell what you do have and let the employer decide if you have what he/she is looking for. Also, avoid negative words. For example, you would not say “I have a little experience...,” you would say “ I have experience......”
  • Don't be afraid to repeat important points. In fact, it is a good idea to do this.

Illegal Questions - An employer's questions - whether on the job application, in the interview, or during the testing process - must be related to the job you're applying for.

Common Interview Questions - One of the best strategies is to review these questions, and become comfortable discussing yourself and your related skills.

Types of Questions - Being aware of the different types can help you in the preparation stage as you build your skills inventory. It may also help you focus in on exactly what is being asked and what the employer is looking for in specific questions.