Interview Answers That’ll Knock Their Socks Off!

Job searching can be a harrowing one whether it happens before or after graduation. Though the economy is showing signs of life, employers have had the dubious luxury of choice in a job market flooded with prospects. Many of the tactics developed to pull the cream of the crop from the applicant pool are still being used today and that means your uninspired, lackluster interview answers go a long way to keeping you from a paycheck. Make no mistake: you can dress to the nines and smile until your face falls off, but ultimately, your potential employability hinges on your answers to what can sometimes intentionally tricky interview questions.

That’s not to say you won’t benefit from some basics. Practice your handshake, keeping good eye contact and remember to speak slowly and clearly. Not only will this help your interviewer to understand you, but it will also help you during those moments of having to think on your feet. One of the best ways to prepare yourself is to really review your work and personal history, and pay special attention to what makes you unique, what shows off your best qualities, and then find ways to work that into your answers.

Now, for the tricky part: interview questions. The best advice here is to expect the unexpected. It’s nebulous advice, to be sure, but valuable nonetheless. For an inside scoop, you can look at this (interview form) created by Exact Hire, a company that helps employers with everything from onboarding to creating the software that more and more employers are using. If you’ve been job searching for a while, you’ve undoubtedly seen their name in some URLs along the way. The form offers a glimpse of what the employer sees and can give you a leg up in preparing for interview questions and format.

The interviewer might ask you questions that range anywhere from what kind of an animal you would choose to be, to which famous person you would like to have lunch with. Other types of questions that you can practice for would be: if your house was on fire, what items would you save, or what would you title your autobiography? In these instances, there is really no right answer, but you should answer honestly. Don’t spend too much time thinking about what would impress the interviewer, but what answers will represent you the best. In most cases these types of questions are designed to catch you off-guard and see how you respond to a curveball. Therefore, no matter what your answer is, you should strive for grace under fire.

The interviewer might also ask you questions that are based in your real-life experiences, such as: how would a former co-worker or boss describe you? Or to talk about a time that you were a part of a team that failed to meet its goal and what did you learn from that experience? They might also want to hear examples of your creative thinking process.

If you find that you don’t know the answer, something you can try is to take a moment to collect your thoughts, and then talk the interviewer through your thinking process. Talking out loud in a logical manner will come across in a more professional manner than sitting there in silence. If the question is confusing, ask for clarification. However, if the question is outside your field of expertise, take the interviewer through what you do know.

As a recent college graduate, you’re coming into the work force with freshly gained knowledge, and your hopes are as high as they have ever been. However, with the amount of people attending college, and even graduate school, the competition is fierce, and laying the proper groundwork is key. When it comes to searching for and securing a job, preparedness goes a long way. Luckily, there is a wealth of information and tools available to you.


The Dangers Of Practice Interview Questions

I was reading the Cheezhead site recently and found an article called 100 Great Interview Questions. While the list did contain a large number of great questions, it also reminded me of why I think practice interview questions can be bad for your overall interview experience.

One of the things I used to do when preparing for an interview was to find lists of interview questions and rehearse the answers that I thought would best received by the interviewer. I would practice my responses over and over until:

  1. I was perfectly happy with what I was going to say
  2. I could recite the answers at will.

Then two things happened:

First, I had an interview where not one of the questions I had practiced were asked within the first twenty minutes.

Second, when a question did arrive that I had an answer to, I was too flustered from the previous unpracticed questions that I botched my planned response.

I realized right there that it was far more important to be able to think on your feet and provide relevant answers than memorize specific responses. Doing this also has the added benefit of allowing you to speak more naturally instead of in the canned monotone voice that often comes with memorized answers.

Now I’m not trying to suggest that running through a mock interview or practicing the answers to common interview questions is bad. What I am trying to make you aware of is the fact that no matter how many practice interview questions you answer, you will never be able to prepare for every question you could possibly face. This means that practicing the art of answering a question is far more valuable than knowing the answer to a specific question.

So when you are preparing for your next interview, ask a friend to quiz you with unorthodox questions that aren’t on the “best interview question” lists. It may help your interview technique and improve your chances.

What Not To Say In An Interview

I thought it would be a good day to introduce some job search humor. A recent article on CNN (via CareerBuilder) provided a list of outrageous things that candidates have said to employers. The article, 43 Weird Things Said In Job Interviews, provides some insight into what not to say, while giving us all a good laugh.

Among my favorites…

“I’ve never heard such a stupid question.”

“If this doesn’t work out can I call you to go out sometime?”

“If I get an offer, how long do I have before I have to take the drug test?”

“What is two weeks’ notice? I’ve never quit a job before, I’ve always been fired.”

“May I have a cup of coffee? I think I may still be a little drunk from last night.”

And finally, my personal favorite…

“You should probably know I mud wrestle on the weekends.”

Priceless!! Check out 43 Weird Things Said In Job Interviews