Turn Job Interview Questions to Your Advantage
One of our favorite articles, when preparing for an interview. Great strategies that can make a huge difference in the interview process.
Published on Gary Lam
As you walk out of the interview and take the lift down, you wonder how you did in the interview, you ask yourself whether you answered their questions well. You are thinking, ‘Was that the answer they wanted to hear?’ Some job seekers may even feel very nervous before and even after a job interview. All those questions were like bullets that they need to dodge and deflect. I am here to tell you that when you are ready, you won’t have to.
Be opportunistic and turn these “bullets” to your advantage. Hiring managers and employers do not spend their precious time on challenging job seekers. Instead, they spend time on getting to know you for the most part of it. That is their real motive and actual job there in that room. You have one job which is to let them know the best of you as much as possible, in relevance to the job opening within 45 minutes or so. Your resume reflects your experience but it is NOT you. They want to know your communication style, leadership style, problem solving skills, relationship management style in order to choose the best most suitable and available candidate out of the 30 candidates who have similar experience printed on their resume. You are only kicking yourself out of the room if your resume mentions ‘great people skills’ but you never show any of it during the interview. Kiss goodbye to any other job openings in that company. Most jobs these days require you to communicate with multiple counterparts across levels, departments, and countries. They want to know that you are someone they want to work, talk and eat with 8-10 hours day. And don’t pretend unless you are auditioning for a Hollywood character.
You can start seeing the codes without any superpowers or psychic abilities. Every question from the interviewer should be an opportunity for you to showcase your qualities and competencies. When they ask about challenges you faced, they want to know about how you tackled complex problems. When they ask about that regional project on your resume, they want to know how you managed multiple counterparts who shared different practices, agendas, priorities and even time zones. When they ask about your previous job, they want to know about your development and motivations. By the way, simply saying ‘I want to be successful’ without elaborating further will actually work against you because there is no substance to it. Prove it with what you have learned and done to achieve growth and success in recent years. When you are well prepared for a job interview, you should feel rather relaxed and sometimes even a little bit excited about these questions. Try to imagine a 6 year-old child singing ‘Let it go! Let it go!’, find that spot inside you, and then turn it down a notch or two. Feel positive and calm, no need to flail your arms.
Nothing is more impressive than being able to be your best presentable self when the interviewer has met with others who were not able to. You are there to get a job but you are also there to leave them an impression and a memory so that hopefully when other opportunities come they may remember and think of you.
Here are just a few tips,
- Research on the company and their industry is a must.
- Read the job description and compare it to your resume. Identity relevant experience and anticipate what details they might want to know more about each experience.
- Adopt a storytelling method and practise it (even if it means practicing in your head), e.g. STAR technique.
- Prepare and practise your stories about your particular strength and experience in projects, problem solving, team management, regional experience, communications, change management etc.
- Clarify when a question is not clear. If you do not understand a question fully, you will not answer it well.
- Elaborate and use relevant details! Even bring up other relevant information if that will help you showcase yourself.
- Ask questions! Do not try too hard to impress. Be passionately and genuinely curious.
- Give answers about things that you have no or very little knowledge about. They can always tell when you are beating around the bush.
- Say that the information is already on the resume (‘As I already mentioned on my resume…’ No, please NEVER EVER say that). They can see and read your resume just fine and they want you to tell them in person.
- Hold back even when you are not being asked. If you have something very relevant to the role, just bring it up at the right moment. If you are not sure, simply ask politely if you may tell them about it.
- Show impatience when you have to repeat yourself to answer another question. They are meeting you for the first time and nobody knows you like you do, so help them.
- Only repeating what is exactly already on your resume. If you find yourself doing that and not elaborating beyond what’s printed, you will be an average candidate at best even when you when have all the relevant skills and experience.
- Ask no questions!