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How To Answer Interview Questions

Tips and techniques for interview success



The issue of how to answer interview questions is one that comes up frequently with my clients. It is not just a matter of guessing what the questions will be and preparing some answers. A lot depends on how you deliver these answers. You need to have worked on some strategies to help you give good interview answers that will make the right impression.



Here is a selection of job interview tips and techniques that will show you how to answer interview questions confidently and impress your interviewers.


Prepare well

If there is one thing that makes a difference to your ability to answer questions confidently, it is the amount of preparation you have done beforehand. Read more about preparing for your interview here.



Listen carefully to the question

Make sure you concentrate carefully and that you are quite clear what the question is about. If in doubt, ask for clarification. Don't let nerves send you off at a tangent away from the topic of the question.



Keep calm and slow down

It is quite common for nervous interviewees to end up talking at nineteen to the dozen. If you know you tend to do this, make a conscious effort to slow down. Take a slow, deep breath before you answer the question. If you need a moment to consider your response, take a sip of water to fill the gap while you think.




Make eye contact

When improving how to answer interview questions, considering body language is important. Make sure that you respond directly to the interviewer and look them in the eye as you answer – but don't stare. If you are faced with a panel, glance at the other panel members as you reply, but keep your focus on the questioner.




Give evidence

You may find that some of the questions start with 'Give us an example of when...'. Here the request for evidence is clear. But hearing evidence to back up your claims for skills and experience is the whole point of the interview, so always back up claims you make. If you say you are good at working in teams, then give an example of when you have done so effectively.



Avoid yes/no answers

You may be faced with an unskilled interviewer who asks closed questions such as 'I see from your application that you have worked on end of year budget reports.' The simple answer to this question might be 'yes', but when you are focusing on how to answer interview questions well, make sure that you expand on this in your response and highlight the relevant skills you have gained.



Don’t waffle

While short yes/no responses are a bad idea, rambling on at length and wandering off the topic of the question is even worse. Keep your answer on topic and monitor your response as you go along. If you know you tend to ramble, stop yourself and switch back to the question with a phrase like 'but to return to my main point...'



Avoid 'yes, but...' responses

It amazes me how interviewees put themselves down. You are there to sell yourself, to show off your skills and strengths, to demonstrate that you match the recruiter's needs, so make sure you focus on the positive and do not belittle any of your experience. When you are talking about related experience, don't say 'it was only...' or 'I have just done a little bit of...' That may be the truth of the matter, but an interview is not the place to say this. Any relevant experience is worth highlighting positively.



Humour

Use this with care. Do not start cracking silly jokes which simply show how nervous you are. However, a wry smile as you admit to a weakness can lift the mood and shows that you can take yourself lightly on occasions when appropriate.



Be positive and enthusiastic

You want this job, don't you? Show them that you are enthusiastic and interested. Make your voice and body language convey that enthusiasm. Let them see that you have approached your previous jobs with energy and a willingness to get things done. This does not mean you have to act the part of an over the top extravert, but you must let your positive interest shine through your nerves. Be quietly enthusiastic and confident.


So when you are thinking about how to answer interview questions, think of every question as an opportunity to tell them about something positive you have to offer. Make sure you use these opportunities to the full and you will be on the way to interview success.




And now read on to discover more successful interview strategies...

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