Now on YouTube:
Before & After Answers to Commonly-Asked Job Interview Questions.
The first one is a tough one:
Tell me about yourself.
What makes you unique?
It’s a trick question because it’s really about them. You have to say what about you solves the organization’s problem; what about you is the cure for their pain.
In the “before” answer that the candidate gave when she had no idea what question was coming her way, she starts out strong, but then doesn’t know where to go with her answer.
This is exactly what will happen to you if you don’t practice and prepare for the most commonly-asked job interview questions. Sure, there will be some curve balls, but this isn’t one–you have to be ready to answer it and know to construct your answer around them–the employers–and how you are a good fit for their organization in general and the open position in particular.
After a few minutes of brainstorming, workshopping and practicing her answer to this question so that it was short & sweet, but also targeted to the professional workplace she was able to provide an excellent “after” answer. Here we see the same opening about her and what makes her unique, but then she quickly moves to how she uses those personal traits in the workplace with a very specific example that highlights her strengths as an employee. In a real interview, she would conclude her answer by saying explicitly how she would deploy those skills and experiences in the specific job she’s interviewing for. And this is where doing your homework and knowing about the organization and what its pain points are is essential because you can basically say “this example shows that I solve your problem.”
Throughout the spring, I will add more of these “before and after” videos that contrast spontaneous answers to commonly-asked interview questions with more practiced, prepared answers. Look for more next week…
Darcy Lear is a career coach specializing in academic writing, job search documents, professional school applications, and interview preparation. To schedule a campus workshop or for help navigating your career transition, contact Darcy: firstname.lastname@example.org The mock interviews were conducted with University of Illinois Urbana Champaign students from Ann Abbott’s “Spanish and Entrepreneurship” course who worked with me on my social media presence as part of their course project in spring 2015.