11 Smart Ways to Answer Interview Questions
If you want to get noticed and get job offers in your interviews, this article is going to help.
We’re going to look at 11 proven ways to answer interview questions effectively.
Let’s get started…
11 Effective Ways to Answer Interview Questions
1. Know when to tell a story, and when not to
Storytelling is a great skill to be more memorable and persuasive, but you need to know when to use it…
Don’t tell a story for a yes/no question. That’s going to drive the interviewer insane.
However, for questions that open the door for you to give a longer answer, like behavioral questions (“tell me about a time you ___?”), storytelling is a powerful skill.
Let’s say they ask a question like, “tell me about your experience serving customers in a fast-paced environment.”
You could just say, “I’ve worked with customers a lot and my last company was very fast-paced,” but that’s not going to be very memorable.
You’ll be a lot more memorable if you paint a picture through storytelling.
You might say, “In my last job, I interacted with an average of 50 customers per day. I really excel in a fast-paced environment like this. In fact, each year our company gives an award to the top person in customer service, and I won last year for earning the highest customer satisfaction rating.”
2. Share specific facts and data to make your answers more impressive
Which one sounds better:
A: “I’m one of the top salespeople in my company right now.”
B: “I’m one of the top 5 salespeople in our group of over 50, and I’m on pace to hit 200% of annual sales goals for my position.”
Facts, data, and statistics make your answers far more impressive.
Do your research before the interview so you KNOW your past results and can talk about it.
Ask former colleagues and bosses if you need to. This will also boost your resume bullets if you put it on there as well!
3. Make a comparison
A reader emailed me recently and was having trouble in her interviews…
She had experience selling, but she had never sold to software developers. And in this new position, that’s who she would be selling to.
So to address this concern of the employer, I recommended she make a comparison.
At some point, she had never sold to her current clientele either, right? (In this case, it was other types of engineers).
So I told her to explain how she learned to sell to those people, with no experience, and then using that to show them she would be able to learn to sell to this new client-base as well.
Making comparisons like this can shift the interviewer’s focus and turn a negative into a positive (or at least make it a non-factor and stop them from being concerned).
4. Be brief and concise
This is another way to answer interview questions more effectively…
Cover the important details and highlight your best points, but then STOP.
Many job seekers have a tendency to carry on for too long when they should have stopped after answering the main question or highlighting their best points.
5. Take your time and ask for clarification if needed
This is one of the most under-utilized ways to answer interview questions…
And it’s dead simple:
Take a breath, relax and really think before answering. You can’t take something back after you say it, so don’t rush yourself.
And if you’re not sure you understood the question, ask for clarification.
You can say things like:
- “Are you hoping for a specific example? I just want to make sure I understand the question.”
- “Do you only want to hear about my hands-on experience? I’ve done this directly, but I’ve also led small project teams for this.”
And you can ask for feedback at the end of your answers too, for example:
- “Did that answer your question, or did you want more detail?”
(This is a great way to make sure your answers don’t go on too long and annoy the interviewer, which was tip #4).
6. End your answer with a question
Asking questions mid-interview helps you target their needs and “tailor” your answers as the interview goes on!
Let’s look at how to do this…
They mention the job requires managing people and ask for your experience in this area.
After answering and highlighting your relevant experience, you’d say, “Can you tell me more about the management I’d be doing? For example, what size team would I lead, and would I be responsible for hiring and growing the team?”
This will also make it feel more like a casual two-way conversation, which will boost your confidence and help you give better answers overall.
7. Make it about them, not you
Most job seekers think the interview is all about them…
The truth is, you’ll get more job offers if you focus on talking about THEM.
What are their concerns and needs?
For example, don’t just describe your skills and experience when they ask about it.
Instead, show them how you’ll put those skills to use in this specific role, and how their lives will be easier by having you on their team.
That’s how you get more job offers and stand out from other job seekers, who just talk about themselves.
8. Speak with high energy and enthusiasm
Showing enthusiasm is an important part of giving good answers in an interview.
It’s okay if you’re an introvert or naturally quiet… you don’t have to be the most outgoing, bubbly personality to get hired.
Just turn it up a bit…
Do slightly more than you usually do in terms of energy in your tone of voice and body language.
Tone of voice is especially important when answering questions in phone interviews since they can’t see your facial expressions or body language.
If you need help showing energy and enthusiasm in your voice, try standing up and smiling when you talk on the phone. This may sound odd, but it’s a proven trick that phone salespeople use all the time.
9. Treat it like a conversation
When you boil it down, the interview is really just a conversation to see if it’s a good fit for both sides.
It’s a two-way deal.
So go in and treat it like that and you’ll feel a lot more comfortable.
This is one of the best ways to answer interview questions in terms of your mindset.
How do you treat it like a conversation?
You should ask a lot of questions to figure out if you’re interested in the job.
You should build rapport with the hiring manager and find out one or two things about them.
Remember their name when they introduce themselves, and use it once or twice in the conversation.
To make them like you even more… send a personalized “thank you” email after the interview to thank them for the great conversation.
Get their business card after the interview too… it’ll make this and all of your follow-ups easier.
10. Talk about the future
A lot of interview questions are going to be about your past: Past experience, past successes, past failures.
But one key to giving great interview answers is to talk about the future too.
When you give answers about your skills and experience, also talk about the future and how you’ll use those skills to perform well in their role.
Mention something you saw on the job description, or something they mentioned earlier in the conversation, that makes you think your background will be useful to them in this role!
This is one of the best ways to answer any interview question and most job seekers don’t do this.
11. Tell the truth
Most employers will forgive a few interview mistakes, or missing pieces of experience (the truth is the requirements are mostly just a “wish list” for them).
However, if you lie or seem like you’re hiding something, you will NOT get hired.
Trust and credibility are as important as anything else in the interview… and no hiring manager is going to want you on their team if they don’t feel comfortable trusting you.
It’s better to be 80% qualified and tell the truth, than lie and pretend to be 100% qualified.
I guarantee you’ll get more job offers if you take the first approach.
How to Answer Interview Questions – Quick Instructions
- Use storytelling to make yourself more memorable
- Share specific facts and data in your answers
- Make comparisons between your past experience and the job duties in this role
- Be brief and concise; get to the point quickly
- Don’t rush – ask for a second to think when you need to, and ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question
- End some of your answers with a question directed at the interviewer
- Make your answers about their needs, not yours
- Speak with higher-than-normal energy and enthusiasm
- Treat it like a regular conversation
- Talk about the future and how you’ll directly help them
- Tell the truth – be honest, accountable, and upfront when answering questions and you’ll get more job offers
Those are 11 of the best ways to answer interview questions effectively, so you can stand out and get hired in less time.