Tips for Answering Job Interview Questions

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What's the best way to answer job interview questions? First of all, be careful. There is such a thing as too much information. Be discreet, for example, when you discuss previous employers and jobs.

One job applicant went into great detail for an interviewer describing how much she disliked the last company she worked for. That company was the interviewer's biggest client so there wasn't any way the candidate would be hired wearing that big a chip on her shoulder.

What you say when you respond, how you answer interview questions, the details you provide, the information you don't disclose, and even the non-verbal cues you give the interviewer are all important when you answer interview questions.

Tips for Answering Interview Questions

Here are tips for the best way to answer interview questions:

  • Research the job and the company: Take the time to research the company and the position you are interviewing for in advance. The more you know, the better equipped you'll be to respond to interview questions.
  • Practice makes perfect: The more practice you have at interviewing, the more comfortable you'll be during a job interview. Practice (ask a friend or family member to help) answering common interview questions to get an idea of how to respond.
  • Know the facts: It sounds like a no-brainer, but some candidates can't remember when they worked where. Be sure you know your work history, and bring an extra copy of your resume to refer to if you're nervous and need a reminder.
  • Try to stay calm: Interviewing can be nerve-wracking whether it's your first interview or you have interviewed many times in the past. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview, take a deep breath before you go into the interview, and do your best to stay calm.
  • Take your time: Don't rush to get out a response to an interview question. Briefly, think about your response before you answer. Taking the time to compose your thoughts so you can respond effectively is better than jumping the gun and saying something you wish you hadn't after the fact.
  • Use the right words: The words you use during job interviews will convey an impression of you to the hiring manager. Using power words in your responses will help make that impression a good one.
  • Give examples: When you respond to interview questions, give examples of how you handled related situations. The more specific you are, the more the hiring manager will see that you have the skills to do the job. Here's more on behavioral interviews and how to respond to behavioral interview questions.
  • Share your accomplishments: Don't be shy about what you have accomplished in your career. Share examples of your accomplishments that are related to the job you are interviewing for to reinforce that you're capable and qualified.
  • Make a match: As you answer interview questions, try to stay focused on the job and how you are a fit for it. Do your best to match your abilities to the job description when responding.
  • Don't ramble: Your response to interview questions should be direct and to the point. Don't ramble and get off-topic.
  • Ask for clarification: Not sure what the interviewer is asking? It's fine to ask for clarification if you're not sure what is being asked.
  • Be direct: When you're asked about why you left (or are leaving your job) try to keep it positive. Be direct and focus your answer on the future, especially if your leaving wasn't under the best of circumstances.
  • Keep it professional: Your responses should be focused on your professional skills and abilities. There is no need to tell the interviewer all about your personal life, your interests, your family, or your hobbies. Most important, don't bring up any work-related issues like having to arrange childcare or transportation if you get the job.
  • Have questions ready to ask: The last question you'll probably be asked during a job interview is whether you have questions. Be prepared and have a list of questions ready to ask the interviewer.
  • Take advantage of one more chance to answer: Don't forget to thank the interviewer and to take the time to follow up with a personal thank you note. If there are any questions you wish you had answered differently or more thoroughly, use your thank you letter to explain.