If Anyone Promises You a GREAT Interview Answer … Beware!
I get a kick out of websites and books that promise THEY have the absolute best answer for you – out of ALL other possible answers – for the most common interview questions. Phew…thank goodness this secret is waiting just for you and no one else.
Of course, the way the internet works, if someone said “Gee…I have an answer that might help, but then again it might not” odds are they wouldn’t be pulling in much reader traffic. But you don’t need to care about their traffic; you need to care about how to give the very best interview you are capable of giving. No one can do more than that. And I assure you, giving the same answer that is out there for everyone else to see is probably not your best way to stand out in an interview!
I’m not in any way saying there isn’t a lot of good advice out there. There is. And it’s most definitely worth doing your research by going to more than one source, including I hope some of the interview advice right here on this site. But, wherever you find it, what the best advice has in common is it puts you in the interview driver’s seat.
Your strongest interview preparation doesn’t come from memorizing answers, but learning approaches…and what an interviewer is really looking for that goes beyond the mere words of an answer. In most cases, it’s not so much the specific answer you give but more the attitude and how you present yourself…and how you tell your “I am a great fit for you” story. (Whether they decide to hire you is really about them and their needs in the end.)
Can I Actually Recover from a Bad Answer?
Sure…a rotten answer can get you the hairy eyeball, but it doesn’t always mean you don’t get the job. Well…there are certainly SOME answers that are pretty much offer killers:
“Why do you want to work here?”
“I don’t know. I guess I kinda like the location. Do you give birthdays off?”
“Why were you fired?”
“My former boss and co-workers are absolute idiots. They never appreciated all I did for them and yet expected me to follow THEIR rules.”
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
“Not still working for a bozo like you!”
But other than such obvious red-flag answers, if you do feel you gave a weak answer or didn’t paint yourself in the very best light (i.e., making sure you have strong examples of how your skills and experience match well with the job and company) just keep going. Get yourself back in the moment – not worrying about what you just said – look the interviewer in the eyes and come back with a strong finish. In most cases, if nothing more than a weak answer ends your chances, this isn’t a person you’d want to work with anyway.
Find Your Own Approach
So, rather than spending your time looking for THE answer, think about what an interviewer is really looking to see. (Do your research on the company, study the job description, take time to carefully identify where your skills and experience match the job, etc.) And remember that your own words – and the strength of conviction behind them – are the most powerful answers of all because they connect in a way no memorized (possibly duplicated-in-a-previous-interview) response ever can!
Here are some articles that I hope will help you find some good approaches and your OWN right answers.
15 Things I Look for When I Interview People