Have you ever experienced this…
You’re sitting in a meeting and you’re asked a question that feels irrelevant to what the meeting was scheduled for AND the question is also not something you’ve ever considered.
Instead of allowing yourself the space to think about the question, you start responding with every single thought that comes to mind without intention. Adding value…likely not.
I’ve been there and it took me years of practice to get to a place where I was comfortable and confident to either:
A. Share I didn’t have an answer and that I’d follow-up after some thought.
B. Pause, take a moment to think about it and then offer: here are my initial thoughts; 1, 2, and maybe 3.
The same principle can be applied in interviews. I often ask clients what makes them nervous about interviews and one of the notes that comes up is this idea of being asked a question they’re unprepared for.
I’ve designed the Own The Interview method to support your preparation; reflect, research and rehearse. I think we all know that you can prep, prep, prep and we still need to be prepared for the 1% unknown.
To support you in formulating your thoughts especially in times where you feel caught off guard, here’s a simple 4 step method in answering interview questions in a clear, concise way.
1. Keep breathing.Take a moment to pause and breathe from your diaphragm. Fact: Abdominal breathing helps to control the nervous system and encourages the body to relax.
2. Listen to the question. Write it down or repeat it to yourself. Forgetting the question you’re answering during the interview…hey, it happens. It often happens when a candidate is rushing to respond. Take your time and keep breathing👆.Don’t be shy with writing down the question to help keep you focused and ensure you answer what it is they’re asking.
3. Determine what the interviewer needs to know.If you were to give your answer a title, what would it be? What’s the headline here? Starting your answer with this supports the interviewer in knowing what it is you’re going to talk about. It’s also likely one of the predominant things they’re going to remember from your response.
4. Think of a specific and relevant example to share. It’s important that you’re ‘backing up’ what you’re sharing with a real example you’ve encountered. This is where you’re demonstrating your experience, ability and skill to get the job done. Don’t just choose any ol’ example. Think of an example most relevant to the position you’ve applied for.