Monday, February 23, 2015

How to Avoid Canned Responses to Interview Questions

Job seekers often worry that if they practice responses to interview questions too much, they will come off as insincere, their answers having that "canned" quality.

I think that's partly true, but you also don't want to use it as an excuse not to prepare for an interview.

So how do you strike a happy medium so that you're prepared for anything, but don't sound like a robot?

Here are some ideas:

  • Think about the general questions most interviewers will ask. What are your strengths? Your weaknesses? Then, instead of coming up with a general response, think about how you've used those skills at work or overcome deficiencies.
  • Talk about results. When you're contemplating how you used your abilities at work, relate how this led to greater efficiency, improved relations with a customer -- or even how you learned a valuable lesson about how NOT to handle a situation.
  • Don't ramble. When you think about the skills you want to highlight, telling a story is always an effective way to make yourself memorable and showcase your abilities. But, you don't want to blather for 15 minutes. Make the story as concise as you can while relating the key points. It shouldn't last for more than a couple of minutes.
  • Make sure it's relevant. It's always a good idea to clarify the question with the interviewer if you're not exactly sure what's being asked. Don't start talking about your skills when the hiring manager asks "So, what do you like about our culture?"

Remember that it's natural for you to be nervous in an interview, which is why you must prepare before the meeting. If you've thought about your skills and how best to relate them, chances are greater you'll be able to push through your nervousness to make a great impression.

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