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Interview Answers: How To Give Job Interview Answers With Maximum Impact

Nov 25, 2007
So all your hard work has paid off and you have finally received an invite to an interview for that dream job. However you still have more work to do to win that elusive job offer and effective communication is vital if you are to succeed.

The interview is very much a two-way dialog, it is an exploratory conversation where you and your interviewer are assessing each other. You will be trying to discover if job is right for you and in turn your interviewer is trying to gather as much information about you and what you bring which will allow them to make a correct decision.

As with all conversations, there are ways of communicating which work better than others and here are some key guidelines to help you give powerful interview answers. I am going to show you how to structure answers to two common interview question types so that they have maximum impact:

1. Competency Based and Behavioral Interview Questions

It is very likely that you will be asked Competency and Behavioral Interview Questions. These are relatively easy to spot as they usually start with phrases such as:

'Tell me about at time when....'
'Describe a situation....'
'Talk through a project/event...'

These questions can often seem deceptively simple however without careful preparation, it can be very difficult to give a truly effective interview answer. Many candidates tend to ramble and to overcome this, I recommend a technique called iPAR when structuring your answer.

I = means both the use of 'I' rather than 'We' and also relates to the situation where you initiated or identified a problem

P = stands for the Problem, the situation requiring attention

A = refers to the Actions you took to resolve the situation

R = refers to the Results, the successful outcome

Very importantly, when talking about the Result, quote figures to illustrate the magnitude of the success and the positive impact your actions had.

Keep this technique in mind when preparing answers and during the interview itself and it will help you to deliver a concise, focussed and interesting answer to any Competency or Behavioral Question.

2. Direct Questions

Direct questions are even easier to spot and they begin with Why, What, Where, Who etc. For example:

"What are your strengths?"

Here is an easy to remember formula which is great for giving structure to your answer and which will help demonstrate your communication skills. It really is as easy as ABC:

A: ANSWER the question in your first sentence

('I have a number of strengths which I can offer in this position and three, which I believe will be of particular benefit are my ability to lead and motivate large teams, my negotiation skills and my experience in delivering complex change management programmes.')

B: Having set the scene, carry on and BUILD your answer methodically

(Give more detail which gives evidence of your ability and which re-enforces and lends credibility to your opening statement.)

C: Summary and Conclusion: CONCLUDE your answer by referring back to the role, discussing how you see yourself contributing in the job.

(Overall, I am a dedicated and experienced Manager and I believe these skills will be of real benefit in delivering excellent results, in motivating the team and in ensuring that your clients have a better customer experience here than anywhere else.)
About the Author
Annette Lewis is an accredited interviewer, job coach and career consultant. She provides free advice and help for job interview candidates at http://www.blueskyinterviews.co.uk and was involved in developing the highly successful interview skills training system http://www.interviewgold.com
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