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The one answer you must master to get the job …

You are sitting slightly apprehensively on the offered chair at your interview. They are welcoming, but slightly jaded after a long day of interviews. This could be your big break, but will you remember all those answers you rehearsed? You whizz through them as pleasantries are passed.

The tough questions.
He answered that perfectly.

Yes, you know all about the technical aspects of the job, well, nearly all of them, and you are fairly confident in your ability to answer them. That’s a great start, but the answers you really need at your disposal are to the questions that lurk ominously in the mind of the interviewer, and unless mind-reading is your speciality, you won’t know what they will be.

Remember interviewers are trying to make you look bad, not good.

If you are fortunate enough to be asked in for an interview then you can be sure that, at some point, you will be confronted by someone non-technical. It might be a person from HR, or a non-technical manager, so your technical know-how may not do it alone. It’s the other subtle things that will interest them: how will you integrate into the team, how confident you appear, are you likeable? The list goes on.

Congratulations, you have passed all the tests so far and the interview panel are smiling and nodding. You relax, slightly; then that question comes out of the blue.

A question you don’t know the answer to! You panic, and mumble an answer, or, worse still, waffle about nothing for five minutes. Their eyes glaze and you fear that, like the Titanic, you are going down in the cold water.

You need a strategy that will sail you comfortably around the ice to dry land. How well your strategy works will determine if the nods and smiles continue, or if they will be thinking about how quickly they can get you out the door.

A strategy that provides an answer to cover every eventuality.

If your strategy is effective then the job is nearly yours. Here are some quick tips to get you started.

Divide possible questions into groups:

o Technical questions, that you either don’t know or have forgotten the answer to.

o Exploratory questions—e.g. “What would you do if a customer did this …”

o Character questions—e.g. “Tell me of a time when you learned from a mistake?”

o Follow-up questions—e.g. “Expand on what you just said about xxx.

The point of the exercise is not to find responses for specific questions, but to have a tool-box of generic answers to each category of questions. That means, that no matter what is thrown at you, you will answer without hesitation, and with confidence.

Ideally, practice with someone that can truthfully assess your responses—for confidence, hesitation, demeanour, facial expressions, et cetera. These are the things interviewers will use to assess your performance, whether they realise it themselves or not.

The next best thing is to video your responses. Pre-record yourself asking different types of questions that you might struggle to answer, and video your responses in real-time.

Imagine yourself as the interviewer—how would you assess your performance?

Last, but by no means unhelpful, use a mirror to see how well you respond. Same thing, though, pre-record the questions, so that you can see how long it takes you to respond.

Finally, be critical of your performance, and make a list of things you think need improving. Practice them whenever you have a moment.

If you don't know how to start; maybe I can help. Check out my Interview Masterclass.

If you're interested in how the interview masterclass can help you secure your next job, please click the button below to find out more.


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