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This blog post follows on from my previous blog post: Interview Preparation: What to Do When You Can’t Answer a Question. Now, if you’re one of those savvy individuals who thinks they can or will be able to answer interview questions, have you thought about how you’re going to answer – literally. I’m not talking about the structure of your content; I’m talking about how you are presenting your content. The most important thing to remember is that your interview is not a presentation it is a Q&A. There is a distinct difference. For example, the interviewer may ask ‘In relation to your CV and past experience, tell me a bit about yourself?’ one candidate may spend 40 seconds to 1 minute answering and another may spend 8 minutes answering. Content wise these answers could be just as good as each other, but the point is that the latter candidate isn’t being a savvy interviewee.
Here is what I mean by that:
Talking at your interviewer the whole time is not going to earn you any brownie points. You may feel that a longer answer is essentially a better answer but it isn’t. You should aim to keep standard answers below two minutes, this will ensure that the interviewer can take the lead with questions, won’t get bored or god forbid start looking at their watch. The more succinct and concise you can be with your answers then the better.
2) Don’t explain everything
The reason for keeping the duration of your answers down is because it will prevent you from digressing, and if you’re not careful you could forget the question you were even asked. As well it will ensure that you don’t over explain everything. If your interviewer is seeking clarification, they will certainly ask for it.
3) Keep it relevant
This expands on the pointer above. You should keep your answers as relevant as possible. For example, if they are asking you about a specific marketing placement that you undertook, don’t start talking about any other placements in your answer unless it has in direct relevance.
4) Don’t give too much away
It’s important to keep composed in an interview so that you can provide succinct and concise answers. However, I’ve known some interviewers to ask the same question twice. For instance, they may ask ‘what do you consider to be your weakness?’ you may then produce your prepared answer, but your interviewer may not be satisfied with it. When they ask again, the worst answer that you could give is something along the lines of ‘another weakness is that I can be lazy’. This answer will set alarm bells off in the interviewer’s head. So, even if you have to sit for a minute and think about your answer, then that is better than giving too much away.
5) Body language
As a last pointer, you may want to think about the body language you’re presenting to your interviewer. For example, you should keep your arms unfolded, shoulders down and relaxed, keep consistent eye contact and sit in an upright posture. You would be surprised at the amount you can give away or the negative impressions you can impose through use of body language.
You can also take note of the body language of interviewer especially when you are answering their questions. For example, if you’ve been talking for too long your interviewer may look away, look at their watch, fidget or blankly stare at you. These are all signs that you should be aware of when answering interview questions.
Lastly, have a listen to the Guardian Careers podcast: Five Steps for Interview Success http://careers.guardian.co.uk/audio/careers-talk-five-steps-for-interview-success, I found it interesting.
Do you have any suggestions/requests for upcoming interview blog posts? Send or tweet them to me.