Interview questions require specific answers

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Apr 15

After successfully writing specifics in your resume, you get the interview and now need to prepare answers to interview questions. If you wrote your resume using numbers that reflected scale and results, then you need to follow through with the same approach to answering interview questions.

Specific answers to interview questions is hard

This is hard. The reason it is hard is that we don’t naturally include scale and results numbers in our conversations. If a hiring manager asks us to describe a project on our resume, we don’t normally frame the answer using scale and results. “This $2.5 million budget project was to convert all customer records to a system that was 25% more efficient to the business. We brought the project in 5% under budget and one week early.”

Instead, we simply describe the project like it was a normal conversation. “We moved the customer records from one system to another and there was a lot of pressure to get the work done.” At a dinner party, that works. For a hiring manager, that fails.

Specific answers to interview questions require preparation

Since we can’t have a “regular” conversation with a hiring manager, how do we build in the scale and results numbers we need to use during the interview?  Well, obviously, it requires some preparation and practice.

One of the best ways to prepare comes from Gary W. Capone, vice president and co-founder of Palladian International in his guest post on SmartBlog on Workforce:

  • Develop a positioning statement. A positioning statement provides a clear, simple way of communicating the value and potential you offer. Learning to articulate your positioning statement is critical to interviewing effectively.
  • Stories of specific accomplishments. The best way to demonstrate your potential is to show a hiring manager what you have done. My book teaches the STAR method of answering questions. With this method, the job seeker describes a situation, their thoughts about the situation, the actions they took and the results they achieved.
  • Practice. By far my favorite interview prep technique is conducting mock interviews. When a job seeker simulates an interview, with a live interviewer, they learn much faster. The mock interviews are most effective after the job seeker has worked on their positioning statement and has learned the STAR method.

By using this method and knowing your numbers, you have a better shot at getting the specifics you need to answer the interview questions. If you also remember that all interview questions only have three answers, you can frame the numbers using this preparation approach. This will take an investment of your time, of course, but one that will payoff against the competition doing the interviews.

How do you prepare for an interview?