3 Essentials for Answering Interview Opening Questions

by | Nov 25, 2020 | Job interview

The job interview is a ritualistic dance in which the best partners whirl away with the glittering prizes. Learn the steps and you too can dance the dance… your partner in the dance is the interviewer, who will lead with tough questions that contain subtleties hidden from the untrained ear.
Martin John Yate, Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions

From my experience of chairing interview panels, debriefing candidates post-interview, talking to recruiters about what great candidates do, and of course being interviewed plenty of times myself, here’s an observation.

In the vast majority of job interviews, the opening question is a broad, open-ended question that is asking for more that it might seem; typical variants of this type of question include;

  • Tell us about yourself
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why should we hire you?

Questions like these can be a nightmare for the unprepared interviewee, and a gift for the prepared one.

From an interviewers perspective, they can provide a quick way of assessing a number of things.

  • How confident, articulate and enthusiastic you are
  • How you match the impression of you they have picked up from your written application
  • How you describe yourself and your achievements
  • How well you have researched and understood the job description
  • How well you have researched their organisation
  • What motivates you at work and how you see your future developing

So what should you include in your answer to ensure the best possible chance of positively conveying all of the above. Here are three elements that you should always to include in your answer;

1. What’s great about the organisation
You will want them to know that you are someone who can add value to the organisation and who identifies with what they stand for. A great way to do this convincingly is to demonstrate that you have done your research about them. For example, you might use some of the words and phrases they have used in the ‘about us’ section of their website; facts about what they have achieved; or citing positive comments you have seen or heard about the organisation (e.g via reviews on Glassdoor)

2. What’s great about the role
You will want to demonstrate your suitability for the role by showing your clear knowledge and understanding of the role and highlighting the particular aspects that appeal to you. For example, ‘I really like the fact that I can work across different project teams’ or ‘I like the balance between customer facing work and backroom planning tasks’

3. What’s great about about you and the value you can add to the organisation

You should make sure that you highlight, skills, experience, knowledge, and achievements that directly link to the specifics of the job role and the vision and mission of the organisation. For example, ‘I know that negotiating is a really important part of the job, and in my role at xxxx I negotiated with external suppliers and was able to help generate £xxxx of savings’ , or ‘I have shown my flexibility and commitment by being willing to change shifts, and cover for absent staff at short notice on several occasions’

One of the best ways to get really confident at answering these and other common interview questions is to practice, practice, practice…….

In one of my intensive interview preparation and practice interview sessions, I can take you through some of the most common interview questions, tailored to the job you are applying for, and help you develop specific and convincing answers that will help you to nail the interview. Get in touch to book a session.

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