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4 important job interview questions you need to prepare for

 November 02, 2015

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1. They want you to be the successful candidate

Think about when you may've interviewed someone or been totally engaged in a discussion where you were hearing something new and asking lots of questions. You wanted information - clear, sensible, interesting information. And you wanted to receive it in an easy straight forward way so you could concentrate on making sense if it.

You also probably wanted to like the person - so you could concentrate on the 'story'.

Well, job interviews are the same.

The interviewer wants to like you - they want you to be the winning candidate. If you are, then their job is done and they can move on to all that other pressing work they need to do (plus they get their reward for a hire well done).

They're interviewing to find a great person to fill the job - so enter the job interview confidently and assertively. Your expertise is valued. You deserve to be there. 

2. Sharp focused answers shape their impression of you

What's the worst thing you can do in a job interview? Waffle!

Know your answers, rehearse your phrases, identify the key words you want to use that will stay with the recruiter and make an impression. Recruiters like to tick boxes. They like to swiftly form a picture of you in terms of your experience, achievements, personality, attitude and fit with the company's culture and values. And very importantly, they want to know your "story". How did you move from X job to Y. Why did you move? Do all your jobs make sense chronologically and development wise?

So prepare your key phrases well. Here are ten great examples to try out:
- My results-orientated approach means that I always ....
- Learning from my focused experience, I understand that ....
- My practical hands-on approach has taught me to ...
- My can-do attitude means I always ...
- Being a strategic thinker, I ....
- My familiarity with these situations means that I ...
- In my experience, the key aspect here is ...
- I successfully achieved and delivered because ...
- Drawing together my extensive skills and experience in this area, I can
- I always focus on tangible outcomes in my work so that ...

So think of past interviews. Did you actively plan the key phrases and responses you gave? Not loose generic meaning-nothing type phrases, but the ones you specifically wanted the interviewer to attach to YOU.

But do be very careful to avoid using broad generic phrases and statements that could potentially apply to anyone - and sound scripted.

One of the best interview responses came from a woman engineer who articulated right from the start of her job interview that her whole mindset comes from a perspective of risk and critical thinking that challenges the status quo. This gave all her subsequent responses a great context.

3. Practise your answers to these 4 important questions

But what if you don't know the questions they will ask you?

Rubbish! An interview is all about finding out three things - where you've worked, what you've done, what impact your work has had? This tells them your relevance for the job. After that they want to understand who you are, what you're like, whether and why this career move makes sense for you and whether you will fit the culture of the company.

So here are the four questions you need to be able to answer in a clear, comfortable and confident manner.

SITUATION: What was the context of your work?
TASK: What did you specifically have to achieve or deliver?
ACTION: What did you do? How did you achieve your objectives through your work?
RESULT: What tangible successful outcomes were enabled as a result of your work?

Otherwise know as the STAR technique used in job interview and job applications.

4. In summary, remember these interview parts

Establish your relevance for the job as quickly and clearly as possible, using the STAR technique.

Demonstrate you're a likeable team player who delivers, paying attention to your choice of words.

Make it clear how you fit with the company's culture by having fully researched the company's values.

And always remember the 3 Cs - always be Clear, Comprehensive and Confident.

We'd wish you luck, but you won't need it! Go get that job!

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