Last night, on my weekly Career Wake Up Call, we discussed the topic of how much detail to provide when answering interview questions. Instead of thinking of an interview as a person asking questions and trying to stump you, think of it as a two-way conversation.
A "conversation" is a form of communication that allows people with different views on a topic to learn from each other. A speech, on the other hand, is an oral presentation by one person. Most recruiters will tell you that the most successful interview is one that ends up as more of a conversation rather than an interrogation or a speech that is otherwise known as rambling.
In kindergarten, we learned that when other people are speaking, we need to listen or we will be asked to sit in the corner. So many times I have wished that there was a corner in my office to send people to. When an interviewer asks a question, make sure that you answer it. Simply follow the 3 C's of Interviewing:
- Be Concise
None of the other 3 C's matter if you are not concise. Listen to the question that is asked and pause for a few seconds before answering it. Pay careful attention to the first question as that is the one that sets the tone for the rest of the interview. Once you have finished answering it, stop. Do not offer answers to other things that came to your mind unless they DIRECTLY relate to the question. You answer should be short, sweet, and to the point. If you can weave in some statistics about your past performance, you'll hit a home run.
- Be Clear
Interviewing takes practice. Regardless what level you have reached in your career, there is always room for improvement. Many people tell me that they find it difficult to explain what their strengths and accomplishments are. As difficult as it is, you MUST learn to develop this skill to successfully convey what you bring to the table. Practice describing your accomplishments in the form of SAR's – Situations, Actions, and Results. Then, pull out the most appropriate SAR when the question is asked.
- Be Calm
During every interview, regardless of how prepared you are, someone is going to ask you a stumper. When that happens, take a deep breath and put on your thinking cap. Ask for a some time to reflect. To get a little bit of extra time, you can always ask the interviewer to repeat the question or rephrase it. Then, remain calm, take your best guess and focus your positive energy and attention on to the following question. If you are really in a bind, ask if you can come back to the question later.
- Be Convincing
To be convincing, you have to first believe in yourself. You have to believe that you are the best person to fill the position and that the position is perfect for you personally. If you don't honestly believe one or the other, there is no way that you be will able to convince the interviewer that you are the right person for the job. But if you know that this is the right company, the right industry, and the right job for you, don't be shy about it. Let your interviewer know. People with passion are way more likely to get hired than people who simply match the job description.
Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
Interviewing takes practice, but it's easy when you know what your career passion is. Take the time to look at your past experiences to determine what specific responsibilities gave you the most pleasure. Then, apply for jobs that have a majority of those responsibilities in them. Interviewing for jobs that you love will be the easiest thing you'll ever do, and it will be easy for the hiring manager to make their decision to hire you also!