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Tips On How To Answer Questions In An Interview

How To Answer Questions In An Interview

Career Kuel Thought Leader: Gayle Petrillo

If you are like me, imposter syndrome plagued me when I first started my career.

And though I knew in my heart I deserved every promotion thereafter, it continued to rear its ugly head, every time.

Imposter Syndrome In Your Career:

As I approached and then turned 70 at the beginning of this month, I started feeling those same doubts encroaching. Am I still relevant? Am I current? Or am I helping or hurting my clients? As a coach in my seventh year, I realize I haven’t been in the active working world for a while; and, therefore, these questions make sense. I’m not into podcasts much, but I do read, a lot! Non-fiction business writings catch my attention on Linkedin and on other platforms.

Two articles recently caught my attention. One was in the New York Post. I can’t recall where the other one came from. Both were written about advancing your career and both offered the reader insights into interviewing skills in particular. 

“The author reminded her readers that, “interviews are like blind dates.”

As I read them, I felt a huge relief. I thought, I could have written this! Not that it wasn’t a well written article, it was. Not that the writer wasn’t on top of her game, she was. I could have written it because it was giving the same advice I give to my clients. I was relieved to realize I am not irrelevant and am not hurting my clients. I still know how to answer questions in an interview. Whew! 

What Everyone Interviewing Should Already Know:

  • Don’t chew gum.
  • Don’t curse.
  • Don’t make jokes.
  • Dress the part.
  • Thank your interviewer(s) for the opportunity.

Interviewing Tips That May Surprise You:

Bring multiple copies of your resume

The author reminded her readers that, “Interviews are like blind dates. You can charm your way into the hearts of your potential employer, or you can leave them wondering why they even agreed to meet you.”

One of the first questions an interviewer will ask will focus on the candidate having an opportunity to talk about themselves. This can be the first trap the candidate falls into. Inexperienced and/or nervous to begin with, someone rambles on about their personal life.

The issues here are many. First, you are not likely providing the keys necessary to set the foundation of why you are there in the first place. The recruiter or hiring manager has seen your resume. They are not interested in when you were born, what you did at age six, 10 or 14. What they are seeking is how you will fit into their environment, including what bias you may bring, which you may unwittingly reveal without rehearsing. 

“Just as they are likely to ask open-ended questions, the interview candidate should as well.”

Preparing Good Questions:

Another pitfall made by candidates, is asking too many questions at the end of the interview. It is imperative to be prepared with one to three questions. Be sure to have more on your list; however, because you don’t want to ask what has already been answered. Do not ask about salary or benefits, especially on a first or second interview. The company representation should be the one to open that door.

Good questions include, “What will a typical day in this role look like?”; “What is the size of the team or who are my direct reports/manager?” Also, “What will be my first priority?”; and “What will success look like?”

Just as they are likely to ask open-ended questions, the interview candidate should as well. 

To ensure you are focused during this part of the interview, be sure to have a notebook that you can open to ask your (no more than three) questions. This will show the interviewer that you are thoughtful and prepared. Additionally, you don’t need to wait until the end of the interview to open that notebook. Open it at the beginning and jot notes as the interview goes on. It shows you are engaged and interested. My only word of caution here is to be sure to make eye contact, lean in and nod. Your body language can make or break an interview.

A Few Other Tips On Interviewing:

Avoid superlatives such as always, never, better and most. Substitute them with usually, often, generally, or perfect. 

If given an opportunity to share why the company should hire you, state concrete examples of your accomplishments. Talk about how you added value, whether you saved your previous employer money, hit targets, and/or managed situations. 

I coach the STAR (Situation. Task. Action. Result.) method.  This is crucial in today’s business world. For every job, there are about 100 applicants. How do you make sure you stand out? What the recruiter is searching for is how you will make a difference and be the best fit for this role. So, in response to questions you will be asked, follow the STAR method. Explain the Situation, describe the Task needed to be accomplished, and elaborate on the Action that was taken, leading to the Result.

Lastly, be sure to thank the person(s) you are interviewing with for their time and consideration. Send an email thank you when you get home, and a personal thank you card in the mail will set you apart. And now you are all set on how to answer questions in an interview.

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About the Author:

Gayle Petrillo is President of First Impressions, Image Consulting. Gayle is an image consultant working with both businesses and individuals. Her services include: customer service training; team building skills; secret shopper services; gossip avoidance techniques; closet analysis; wardrobe transformations, personal shopping; employment coaching; and presentation skills.