You can chisel away at your resume and cover letter as much as you like but, in the end, most hires get decided with the job interview. Here are seven things you need to do in order to give the best possible answers to interview questions.
1. Know The Job Description Really Really Well
As you’re deep into the interview preparation process, that job description is your Torah, and you should be a devout reader. It’s the most concrete information you have about the job you’re trying to get hired for. Know it backwards and forwards so that you have at least some idea of what the employer is looking for in a candidate. Ideally you’ll get a detailed, clear description of the job, but that’s not always the case. The listing could just be a few brief sentences, which makes preparation easier but the interview itself much harder. Or it could be so confusing or unspecific that you don’t really know what the job duties are. Either way, that job description is your best resource in your attempt to give the best answers you can in your job interview, so know it well.
2. Avoid General Answers
Research what answers various websites suggest you give to interview questions, but don’t repeat them. Instead, offer your own twist on each answer so that the interviewers who know how to do a Google search realize that you’re different from the rest of the flock. You have to always think about what everyone else is doing to give the right answers in a job interview, and then go one step further.
3. Know How To Apply Your Past Experience To It
Before you head into that interview, consider all the duties you’ll have to take on if you’re hired and figure out how you can apply them to your work history. Find a way to convince the interviewer that your job washing dishes makes you the perfect candidate for a job running the company’s marketing campaign. For that example, you might give an answer in the interview like, “I inspected every dish to make sure there wasn’t a speck on it. I’ll use that same attention of detail to perfect every email going out to subscribers.” Seek out ways to make similar comparisons that apply to your situation.
4. Talk Results
It’s not about what you did, it’s about what you did for your employer. It doesn’t matter that you worked sixty hours a week every week as much as that you made those hours count and left your clients/customers satisfied. Talk about positive things that happened at your work directly because of your involvement to get the interviewer’s attention.
5. Come Across As A “Good Fit”
You don’t usually know exactly what the potential employer is seeking in an employee, but look for context clues to get a better idea. Read between the lines of the job description to unearth what they’re looking for. Sometimes they don’t know themselves, which makes your task harder but not impossible. Another good source of information is the company website, specifically pages that describe what kinds of people work for them. If it tells you that the business is full of highly driven people, you should definitely beat the drum on how motivated you are when you’re answering questions in the job interview.
6. Give Slightly Surprising Answers
Don’t confuse the interviewer, but don’t be afraid to throw some curveballs, either. Offer appropriate but unexpected answers to their questions in job interviews to demonstrate that you think outside the box. If you’re remembered for an original response, employers might be more inclined to keep your resume at the top of the stack.
7. Answer With The Best Version Of The Truth
You want to avoid lying in an interview; you know that. However, don’t be so truthful as to damage your chances of getting the job. If someone asks you if you were laid off your last job, don’t answer in the affirmative. A simple “yes” or “no” is almost always the wrong answer in a job interview. Instead, lay out the professional conflicts you had with your previous boss in a way that paints you in a positive light without tearing the other person down to leave the best impression.
Featured photo credit: Samuel Mann via flickr.com