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There are not many of us that like or enjoy job interviews. They are however, the necessary evil in most cases if you want to land that new job. There are many ways to stuff up a job interview; we all know that feeling of walking away from an interview cursing ourselves for not talking about the example that comes to mind as soon as you get in the car after the interview or for feeling like we got tongue-tied and didn’t answer the question well.
I’ve conducted a lot of interviews during my career and have experienced many great interviews and some really bad interviews. The number 1 blunder I see people make in an interview is not answering the question.
There are different styles of interview questions, however the most common is still behavioural/competency based interview questions and these are the types of questions that trip most people up. Examples of these questions look like:
- Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult customer
- How have you kept yourself organised and managed your time, provide an example from your current role
The biggest blunder you can make when attempting to answer these kinds of questions is to not answer the question. By not answering the question, I don’t mean not responding at all, I mean not providing a specific response that answers the specific question.
A common response is to talk generally about your skills in that particular area. If we use the example of ‘tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult customer’ the common trap to fall in to is to respond with:
- I deal with difficult customers all the time, I have done so for many years, it’s no problem for me to deal with difficult customers.
- I’ve dealt with so many difficult customers during my career, it’s impossible to think of just one example, difficult customers are easy to deal with, they don’t faze me at all, I’m happy to deal with difficult customers.
This kind of response doesn’t answer the question. The interviewer may try and prompt you for a specific example however if they can’t get the information they need to assess your skills and ability to handle a difficult customer then chances are you won’t score well for that response.
The number 1 reason I think people struggle to answer these types of questions is that they are not prepared for the interview and haven’t thought about examples to demonstrate their skills and experience. Looking at the position description will give you some insight into the skills and experience the interviewer is going to be looking to assess. While you can never guess what questions you’ll be asked at interview, you can come up with some really good examples that are front of mind to be able to call on and talk about when asked for a specific example. Some of us are great at thinking on our feet and some of us are not so good in this regard, plus throw in the nerves of an interview and the mind goes blank trying to recall a good example to share. Hence the importance of prepping for an interview and building up your library of great examples and then practicing talking about those examples – what was the situation, the task you were required to perform, the action you took and the result/outcome. Being able to articulate those elements in a response is key.
With a little preparation and practice this #1 interview blunder is easy to overcome. Happy prepping and practicing so you can nail that job interview next time!
Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.