Because there are so many different questions that can be asked in a job interview, it is helpful to have some general guidelines to help you answer any job interview question. Generalizations can be dangerous, but to play any “game” effectively, understanding the “rules” of the game is critical to your success.
These 12 guidelines should give you a good basis for effectively answering interview questions.
Job Interview DO’s:
1.) Listen very carefully.
In your actions during a job interview, you are demonstrating your quality as an employee. Show that you will understand what you are asked to do, if hired.
2.) Answer the question that was asked.
Repeat it back, if you want to be sure. After you have answered the question asked, you can carefully add more information to put your “spin” on the question, following the rest of the guidelines. However, this is not the time to be a politician and answer the question you wish they had asked.
3.) Be truthful.
This doesn’t mean that you need to tell every detail that you know, but be sure that what you share is true.
4.) Be brief.
The longer the explanation, the more troublesome it could be for you.
5.) Stay on topic.
Resist the impulse to throw in additional “related” information. The interviewers may not see the same relevance that you feel is there, and they may think you are scattered in your thinking.
6.) Stay positive.
Focus on being positive in your answers. Trash talking is a killer in an interview. Even if the interviewer is talking trash, resist. They could be baiting you to see if you will reveal something you shouldn’t.
7.) Stick to the facts.
Try not to offer opinions unless specifically asked for your opinion, and then, when offering your opinion, be as even-handed as you can be.
8.) Have your own questions ready.
Demonstrate your interest, intelligence, and preparation by having good questions to ask. You’ll impress the employer and you will hopefully help yourself avoid a job that isn’t a good fit for you.
9.) Be very well prepared.
So many job seekers blow their opportunity at a job by walking in to the interview unprepared. That shows lack of interest as well as lack of respect to the employer. (Read “How to Knock Their Socks Off in a Job Interview” for a detailed description.)
Job Interview DO NOT’s
10.) Don’t be modest.
This is not the time to avoid bragging. Describe your accomplishments and achievements that are relevant to the questions you are asked. The best way to do this is to make a list of your accomplishments and achievements. Build the list through brainstorming with family, friends, and former colleagues, going through performance reviews and other documents you have from your jobs. Before the interview, practice talking about your accomplishments and achievements out loud, hopefully to a friend or family member so you are comfortable saying them out loud.
11.) Don’t be an entertainer.
You may be very witty, and you can certainly let your wit show in an interview, particularly at the end of an interview if you feel you have developed some rapport with the interviewer. But, don’t focus on making them laugh – unless you are interviewing for a job as a comedian or entertainer.
12.) Don’t ask about salary or benefits in the first interview.
Find out whether or not the job is a good fit before you ask about salary and benefits. Asking those questions in the first interview will often kill employer interest in you, a sign to them that you are only interested in the money, not the job. Yes, salary and benefits are important issues to both sides, but better discussed nearer the end of the process than the beginning.
Other “don’t's” for interview behavior include don’t answer your cellphone, don’t text or email, don’t dress inappropriately, and don’t be late.
More About Successfully Job Interviews
Job Interviewing (Job-Hunt.org)
© Copyright, 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.