Laura Decarlo: Hi! I am Lara Decarlo, certified interview coach and President of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Career Directors International. I am sharing strategies for planning to ace your job interview. Right now, I am going to talk about types of questions you can expect in the interview and a powerful strategy for creating high impact answers.
You can expect to be asked a variety of questions to determine your enthusiasm level, self-direction, problem solving and critical thinking ability, communication skills, success orientation, flexibility and level of responsibility. There are two ways you can answer interview questions. In baseball, this would be the difference between hitting a fly ball and a homerun.
One starts with promise but leaves you back at square one while the other gets you the big win with the employer. To create a homerun, you've to create pictures with your words to provide a concrete answer. You do this by making sure your answer gives specifics which include where, when, how and with what outcome.
Let me take you through this simple process when answering the question. Tell me about your customer service skills. In step 1, you'll create an introductory statement such as I have very strong customer service skill. Now, some people choose to stop answering this question at this point, thinking they fulfill the requirements. Watch out, because this won't get you anywhere, because it does not give the employer any information about you and how you stand out from your competition with your customer service skills.
In step 2, you cover the where or the place where you've used these customer service skills. You might now say when I worked with the XYZ Company. In step 3, you'll establish the when or the position or job you were in when you used these skills. You might now add to your answer, as the Sales Manager.
In step 4, you'll give proof or cover the how and with what outcome ending to your answer. For our customer service question, you might say, in my most recent position as Sales Manager, I was incharge of closing our sales, improving customer relations and solving any problems. In fact, I was instrumental in helping improve our customer satisfaction index by 40% last year, which increased our sales and it also got me Manager of the Quarter for three quarters in a row, in 2008.
In other words, use concrete examples and accomplishments from this position to prove yourself. In step 5, which is sometimes an optional step, you link your answer back to the current interview you're now in. So you might add to your answer, with my emphasis on educating and motivating my sales staff to have a positive customer experience, I feel I could bring the same excellent level of contribution to your organization.
When you put it altogether, you have a solid and powerful answer that goes like this, well, I have very strong customer service skills. In the last five years of my career, I worked very closely with the public, and in my last position as Sales Manager, I was incharge of closing our sales, improving customer relations and solving any problems. In fact, I was instrumental in helping improve our customer satisfaction index by 40% last year which increased our sales and it also got me Manager of the Quarter for three quarters in a row in 2008. With my emphasis on educating and motivating my sales staff to have a positive customer experience, I feel I could bring the same excellent level of contribution to your organization.
That makes a truly positive impression. What's even better is that you can apply this method to just about any interview question. All you need is a piece of paper or a computer with a word processing program. Put a question at the top of each page, then number the page 1 through 5 leaving adequate space between each one so you have room to write in details.
Again, number one will be your overview statement. Number two, will be where you used the skills or performed the function. Number three will be the job you held. Number four will be your proof of what you did, and number five will be your optional linking back to the current interview.
Now, don't make the mistake of thinking you can pen in the perfect answers on your first try. Instead, you'll start by performing a brain dump on each step. You'll then go back and read what you wrote, decide whether it is the best track to take and refine what you've written. Be sure to watch out for weasel words when you're performing the rewrite. Next, put your answer together and read it out loud. Make sure it sounds natural and professional and presents tangible proof and results whenever possible.
Be patient with yourself in creating the perfect answer. Share it with friends and family and refine as necessary. For an extra benefit, you can put these answers on flash cards and take them with you everywhere so that when you have time on your hand, you can practice, practice, practice.
Now that you understand how to create powerful answers to common interview questions, I'll next share with you, what you need to bring with you to your interview to be prepared.