Answering the Interviewer's Questions
A good interview is a mutual "get acquainted" process which usually involves questions and answers flowing in both directions. As you might expect, some of the questions you will be asked are predictable, while others are less so.
Being prepared is still the best advice. Practice how you will answer some of the tougher questions. If you've had a short job stint, expect to be asked about it. Expect to be asked about why you're looking now and answer positively.
There are five principles that will help guide you in creating the best impression
- Listen to the question: Be sure that you understand exactly what is asked and why the interviewer wants this information. If necessary, ask for clarification on the specific point the interviewer is pursuing.
- Take time to think: Think about the question before you respond. A reasonable period for reflection can create a positive, not a negative impression.
- Give concise answers: Give enough of an answer to satisfy the interviewer, but don't ramble or volunteer more information unless it is positive and pertinent. Try to keep each response to 1-2 minutes. Ask the interviewer if your response answered his/her question. The interviewer can then decide if they want more or different information.
- Use positive information: Be truthful, but do not offer negative or critical information about a company or an event.
- Nonverbal Communication: Experts in kinetics, the study and clarification of body movements, estimate that words express only 30% of what people actually communicate; facial expressions and body movements and actions convey the rest. During an employment interview, what you convey nonverbally may be as important as what you say.
Keep these "body language" clues in mind as you interview
- Facial Expressions: Eyes are a key nonverbal indicator. Looking away indicates shyness, dislike, untrustworthiness or a lack of interest. Eye contact indicates a desire for communications, feedback and friendliness. Make and keep eye contact.
- Posture: The way you sit or stand can convey energy or fatigue, interest or boredom. Walk and sit with a confident air. Lean toward an interviewer to indicate interest and enthusiasm.
- Voice and Gestures: Speaking loudly, rapidly or in a high pitch can convey anger or anxiety. Boredom can be expressed by a moderate volume and monotonous inflection. A well-modulated voice with a moderate pitch and inflection convey interest and appropriate excitement. Be aware of gestures which might convey anxiety and interfere with your message. Natural gestures reinforce your message and communicate confidence.
It is useful to get some objective feedback from friends on the "body language" you habitually use. The feedback could tell you which may be useful and might be used advantageously, and which might be intrusive or distracting and should be eliminated. This includes verbal habitual language like "you know".
Questions frequently asked during an interview
- What motivates you to put forward your best effort?
- What are your long- and short-range goals?
- What have you learned from your mistakes?
- What problems have you encountered; how did you deal with them?
- What do you see yourself doing 5-10 years from now?
- What can you contribute to our company?
- How would you describe the ideal job?
- Why should I select you over someone else?
- Tell me something about yourself.
- Why did you decide to explore a position with our company?
- What do you know about our company?
- Why and how did you choose this career?
- What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- How would a past employer of yours describe you?
- What qualifications do you have that will allow you to be successful?
- What do you think it takes to be successful?
- If you were hiring for this position, what qualifications would you look for?
- In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable?
- How do you work under pressure?
How to successfully handle technical questions
A technical interviewer wants to gauge your analytic and problem-solving ability along with your knowledge of programming and software development. Build on your basic interview prep by thinking through the special nature of technical interview questions:
- Brush up on technology terms and basic concepts.
- Review programs you haven’t had day-to-day involvement with for awhile. Be very familiar with every skill and project mentioned on your resume.
- Prepare to talk in detail about two or three meaningful projects. Focus on your contributions and results.
- Know the technical requirements of the position you are applying for and how you can meet them.
- Mentally prepare yourself to “think on your feet” and “think outside the box” in response to complex questions for which there may not be one right answer. Stay positive even if you feel a question is stressful.
- Share your thought process with the interviewer as well as your answers.
- Do not bluff your way through a question you don’t know how to answer. Instead, emphasize your desire to learn and give examples of times you quickly grasped new concepts. A suggested response: "I haven’t had the opportunity to work with that software, but I'd like to."
- Use interactive conversation techniques to dialogue with the interviewer. Try to find out if the interviewer is looking for more information after you give an answer.
- Speak with more confidence than you may feel. The interviewer notices delivery more than details.