Rock the job interview: best answers and how to find them
Many people feel very uncomfortable when going to a job interview. They feel like they are under scrutiny, as if they were taking an exam. This is doubly true when you’re young and have little experience with job interviews. You might be worrying about the best answers to give in a job interview. I certainly did the first few times at an interview. I was so worried about giving the wrong answers and failing. I learned only later when I did interviews as a hiring manager that there are no right or wrong answers and that the job interview is not an exam but an opportunity to get to know each other.
Keeping in mind that an interview is a chance to get to know each other, we need to stop worrying about right and wrong answers. There are no wrong answers. There are however better answers than others. You can give the best answers if you really prepare yourself for the job interview and if you answer honestly and authentically.
What are the best answers?
In a job interview the best answers are open and honest ones. If you’re looking for templates which you can just learn by heart and which will open every door for you, I have to disappoint you. This won’t work.
A job interview is a dialogue. Therefore the best answers are those which answer the employer’s questions and give them a good idea about you. So first of all make sure to actively listen and engage with the employer. Then ensure that the answers reflect you and your skills. Being authentic is the most important thing to keep in mind in every job interview.
The best answers in a job interview are usually concrete examples which show your experience and your skills. Even if you only have little work experience, you should find it easy to come up with good examples of different work situations.
The key is to reflect a little before the interview: which examples would be suitable to describe your relevant work experience for this position? Preparation is necessary, because a job interview is an exceptional situation and it probably already happened to most of us that we were a little nervous and couldn’t think of an example in the moment. If you prepare yourself based on the job ad and take some notes, you’ll be able to refer to them in the job interview.
The best answers are based on thorough preparation
The best answers in a job interview usually contain the following elements:
a concrete example of a situation or an achievement
what did you do
how did you do it
what did you learn from it
No matter which job you apply for, these elements are the key to answering all questions well. It doesn’t matter if the employer actually asks for examples or not. The important thing is to proactively bring concrete examples, even if not directly asked for them. This will allow you to describe your work experience and prove your qualification in the best way.
Talking about a concrete example makes it easier for you to answer the question. You know what happened, how you went about it, what you achieved and what you took away from it. You don’t have to make up a potential situation and try to figure out how you’d react. You know exactly what you did and if that worked out or not. It’ll be easy to describe your role, your involvement and how you approached the situation. Finally you’ll know if you learned something from that experience which you can apply to future situations, e.g. what you can avoid next time or what worked particularly well.
The example doesn’t necessarily have to be a positive situation. Examples of situations which didn’t go so well can also serve as a basis for great answers if you can show what you learned from the situation. Just think about the questions about your weaknesses and failures. The best answers to these job interview questions are not: I don’t have any weaknesses or I never failed. The best answers to these questions are honest examples. Check out my advice on “what are your weaknesses” to learn more about the best way to answer this particular question.
To sum it up: it is essential to take the time and prepare well for the job interview. Only then will you be able to provide the best answers to the employer’s questions. Have a look at my article on behavioral based interview questions. You’ll find more details on why concrete examples are the best way to answer questions in a job interview.