How to answer 1000 different interview questions

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Apr 16

If you do a search on “interview questions,” you will see hundreds of ways to answer interview questions. Looking at the list, though, and you would think you have to write out hundreds of different answers to the interview questions. Memorize them, practice them and get ready for the interview.

Unfortunately, hiring managers are people and to program in hundreds of answers in your head merely sets you up for failure when the interview happens.

Remember, there are only three answers to interview questions:

  • can you do the job?
  • will you love the job?
  • will you fit in with the manager and team?

That’s it.

So the way to answer a 1000 different interview questions is to frame your response to answer one of the three interview questions. It’s that simple — and that hard.

  • […] answer an interview question — Context, Action, and Result — gives you the framework to answer any interview question. More importantly, this process gives you the ability to tell great interview stories because there […]

  • Scot says:

    Yup, you can’t do much about the actual entrance tests. But the interview questions themselves using this approach gives you a great way to frame your answer — and determine if your answer is the right answer based on the question asked. If someone asks you about certifications, it is a job skill question. If someone asks you about how you deal with difficult situations, it is a “how will you fit in the group” question. Knowing the question type helps you frame your answer.

  • Scot says:

    I think the approach of “why you are the best candidate for the job” is a good one. The issue I have with that approach is that no one has defined the best candidate profile for you to compare to! Even managers rarely define the best candidate in their head and have that as the comparison. Instead, they look at qualified candidates and rank them. Then, if the minimums are met — they can do the job, are motivated to do the work and the manager believes the candidate will fit in with the manager and group — then that becomes the “best candidate for the job.”

    The other advantage to this “three answer” approach, I think, is that it gives the candidate a better opportunity to ask clarifying questions about the questions being asked. For example, if a hiring manager asks you to talk about a successful project run by the candidate, the candidate can ask a clarifying question about projects being done at the prospective company to determine if the question is really about job skills or if it was about how the candidate fit in with the overall team to get work done. Answering a “fit” question in the hiring manager’s head with a “job skills” question by the candidate is not a winner.

    Hmmm…that “clarifying questions” point is worth a post all by itself…

  • Imee says:

    Come to think of it, I do think you’re onto something. I mean, sure you’re answering interview questions, but you have to be something they’re looking for. The only way to show that to them is by including those three into your answers. And of course, through interview/entrance tests. 😉

  • Ok, Scot, I clicked the link!! Very nice title to your post and I like the 3 questions. I have a little bit of a different twist on your post. I coach people to answer each question with one question in mind, “why are you the best candidate for the job.” I believe every time a candidate opens their mouth, they should be answering that question. If they do, they will nail the interview.

    So now I need to get creative and figure out how to incorporate your post into a post on my career column at bizzia. Thanks for hooking me with your title!

    Interview Guru

  • >