Articles, advices and tips for professionals in the United States of America


How To Answer Job Interview Questions

It seems a no-brainer to go through a preliminary job application process, fill out the requisite forms, graciously accept a job interview invitation, dress appropriately, and answer job interview questions…and voila! Get the gig.  But one part of that process, the step where you answer job interview questions, that is, requires a bit more attention and thought, or practice, even…before actually going through with the act.

Depending on the type of job and type of interview (including the number of panel members interviewing you, what props you need or get to bring, and the interview format), you will be expected to do one, some, or all of the following—or, you will do well to use strategies or good interviewing habits that help you answer job interview questions in the following manner:

Answer the question in the language of the question.  When an interviewer asks a question using key terminology, or even when he or she frames a question in any manner, repeat a part of the question in your declarative response.  This is good mirroring behavior that shows respect, affinity, and even like-ness.  For example, if a potential employer asks, “What makes you the best candidate for this position?”  You might respond with, “What makes me the best candidate for this position is….”

Use bullets or a 1-2-3 format when you answer job interview questions.  One of my former supervisors always responded to a question by giving three examples, by actually saying each number out loud to the listeners, to guide them in their listening but also to guide him in his speaking (and remembering): he would say, for example, how there are three ways to reinvent the wheel, “#1, study the existing wheel; #2, plan well for the new prototype; and #3, use troubleshooting maneuvers to create a new model than surpasses the problems of the old model….” 

Answer all parts of the question.  In academic milieus, where I occasionally interviewed for full-time, tenured positions, the panel would as two- or three-part questions.  When you answer job interview question such as this, say, such as “What do you think the program needs and how would you proceed in satisfying those needs?” remember to respond to the first, theoretical/observational part and the second, hypothetical/role-playing part.  Some people (many people, actually) bring a note pad to the interview and check off their responses as they go.  These questions are often just as much a test of your content (answers) as they are a check to see that you can follow through or that you are paying attention, etc.

Many more ideas and tricks are important when you answer job interview questions.  For instance, eye contact is imperative; remembering names is good; and sitting in a forward-leaning but reserved, casual, hands-folded way may also be good practice in the process.  Again, it depends on the job, the people hiring, and the organization or institution or business environment.  Do as you would if you already worked there: dress, speak, and gesture as the others do…?


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