The key to answering interview questions.

Ready for interview. Thoughtful senior man in formalwear holding paper while sitting at the chair in waiting room

You have impressed the employer with your C.V. and now it is time, to show that you live up to who you say you are on your C.V..

So, what should you do in the interview to impress the employer enough to hire you? In the interview there is a technique to answering interview questions, follow these tips below to give yourself the best chance of making a lasting positive impression.

Listen carefully to the questions asked – If you don’t understand the question don’t try to answer it. If you give the wrong answer it will make the employer worry about your ability to take direction. Ask the employer to repeat / rephrase the question and answer it professionally.

Imagine what the employer wants to hear – Remember that each question is about your professional life, not just a general curiosity from the employer. Each question is to see if you would be a suitable fit for the role or the company. Therefore, questions like tell me about yourself and where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time should all relate to your career. Imagine that each question either begins or ends with the words in relation to this role e.g. “Tell me about yourself” – in relation to this role, “what are your strengths?” – in relation to this role.

Be positive and enthusiastic – DO NOT MENTION ANYTHING NEGATIVE about yourself or about anybody else, especially not a previous employer. The only person the interviewer can see is you, therefore if you are speaking negatively about someone else all the employer is going to see is you speaking negatively. This will make them question whether you would be easy to work with or not.

Chose what to reveal – An interview is like a first date we don’t immediately tell our prospective partner everything about us, or everything that went wrong in previous relationships. We show them the good parts, so that we can get a second date and like with any relationship we reveal more of ourselves over time. This is the same for the interview, we are just revealing the professional and positive side of ourselves. Reveal only the positive parts. It is important to be honest, but that does not mean that you have to reveal every detail about your life.

Show interest in the position and the company – Let the employer know that you don’t want just any job you want this job in particular, you can do this by researching the company and referring back to the specification in your answers. “ Well I saw in your advertisement that you are looking for someone with experience in…….I feel I really match this role because I have…..”

Don’t lie – If you do not know the answer to a question, tell the employer that you don’t know the answer but focus on the positive that you are willing to learn and give examples of skills / activities that you learned in your previous roles. Do not lie or make something up.

Speak slowly calmly and clearly – Sometimes when we get nervous we can have a tendency to speed up, this can mean that we come across as nervous and some of our answer might be lost if they are given too quickly. Try to take a breath before each answer to calm yourself.

Buy yourself time – You do not have to answer the question straight away, you can take some time, you can use phrases like, “that is a good question” or, “let me think about for a moment” or, if you cannot think of an answer you can ask the employer if you can come back to that later.

Answer what you have been asked – Try not to go off the subject. Answer what the employer has asked and try not to ramble. Take note of the employer’s body language, see if they are waiting for more information or if they are taking chances to interrupt.

Do not interrupt the interviewer – Sometimes you might have someone interviewing you who does not have expertise in the area that you are working in. Try to explain your answers clearly in a positive way and try not to talk over the employer.

Avoid answering questions by saying, of course or, like I said earlier as this can sometimes sound a little rude.

Sell yourself – Every answer is a chance to say something good about yourself- Use this opportunity, mention achievements and examples, if you don’t sell yourself no one else will, and someone who is not as good as you might end up getting the job!

Prepare examples – Look through the advertisement to see what competencies they are looking for and have examples prepared for when you used these competencies before

Finish strongly – Often times when I am carrying out interviews, I notice that candidates start answers very strongly and then trail off towards the end, always try to finish strongly. Remember the question you were asked and try to finish off by coming back to it e.g Q. Why should we hire you? A. ………and that is why I believe I would be a good candidate for this role. Q. Why do you want to work for our company? A. ……….and that is why I am really interested in working for a company like yours.

Make sure you are prepared and show the Employer that you are exactly who they are looking for!

Breda Hegarty is the Pre-employment Trainer in Business in the Community, supporting people with barriers gain employment and author of the blog . For more information and to book an appointment for a place on our next free training course in relation to C.V.s . cover letters and interview skills call (01) 8743840 / (01) 8743814 or e-mail



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