Answering interview questions

It would be impossible to describe how to answer every interview question, but certain basic principles can be applied to help you deal with anything that may be thrown at you.

  • Listen carefully
    It may sound obvious, but it's very easy to let your thoughts drift in an interview situation and you may not fully hear the question. If this does happen, ask the interviewer to repeat the question. Just don't do this for every question you are asked!
  • Try to determine why you are being asked that particular question
    Interviewers will ask a question because they need to know specific information about you and your work. Try to pause and identify what it is the interviewer is actually looking for before you make your response.
  • Think before you speak
    It is very easy to panic in an interview situation and begin talking before you are ready. This is a common reaction because you are aware of the awkward silence following the question. The answer is to stay calm and only speak once you have a clear idea in your head about what you wish to stay.
  • Stay on track
    If you find yourself waffling in an interview or feel that you have talked yourself into a metaphorical cul-de-sac, simply say to the interviewer " I'm sorry, I feel that I am not fully answering the question. Please bear with me whilst I gather my thoughts and get back on track". Thus, buying yourself some time to regroup your thoughts and continue with the question.
  • Provide examples
    Try to think of practical examples from your work to help illustrate your answers. Even if you haven't specifically been asked to give examples, it is good practice to do so as long as they are relevant.
  • Dealing with closed questions
    During the interview you may get asked 'closed' questions, that is questions that only require a one word answer, 'yes' or 'no'. Do not reply with just a one word answer, you would be missing an opportunity to sell yourself. Again, use examples to illustrate your answer.
  • Tell the truth
    Do not lie in your interview or make claims that you can't substantiate. You will inevitably be found out at some point.
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