It is about knowing what you want to say when you answer the questions, but it is also about how you say it. Your credibility and success will depend on both – contents and delivery. While you can get feedback from others on your written answers (contents) and feel confident about that, until you have practiced the delivery, you are only halfway ready for the interview to get the job or role you so desperately want!
Collect maybe a handful of typical questions asked at interviews (there are several sites that would offer you suggestions for questions to prepare for). Also, look for some specific questions that are logically tied to the role description for the job.
Examples of typical questions include:
- Give me a summary of your career history and why this role is right for you.
- Tell me more about yourself.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 yrs – career-wise?
- Why are you interested in this role?
- What is the achievement that you are most proud of in your life?
- Tell me about the last time you got angry with a colleague?
2. Use the STAR methodology to construct answers on paper/screen to the typical questions you picked. If the question is not in the format “tell me about a time when” – you can still use the STAR method by answering “The situation was… X, I had to do Y, Here is what I did… Z, and the outcome was AA and this is why I believe/want/have this approach… (explain your answer)”. In some cases, STAR may not the be right way to go about giving an answer. (Link to explanation of how STAR methodology works)
3. Use structured messages (especially if STAR may not be the right approach for your answers) See post about how to structure messages. In principle – look for 3 key points you want to bring across to answer the question or explain something. The power of using 3 points is that humans remember 3 points and it satisfies something primal in us to hear answers in 3’s. Tell us first “There are 3 reasons why” and then tell us that one by one.
4. Practice your prepared answers a few times until you feel that you have reached a satisfactory level of delivering the right message in the right way – answering the questions you have selected.
5. Time to record yourself. Get out your video recorder/tablet/phone and record yourself answering the questions one by one.
How to use the recording(s) of yourself answering the questions:
How to review your recording
Turn off the sound! – Watch your body language and look for moments when you find your body language possibly distracting from your message. It could be that you keep sweeping your hair behind your ear, or you fiddle with a pen or your glasses or you do not make eye contact. Make notes about that to yourself.
Don’t watch – listen! – Watch it again without looking at the screen, just listen to your answers… does your voice sound steady? Is it clear? Do your answers come across crisply and credibly? Make notes for yourself.
Watch and listen! For the 3rd time, watch the recording with the sound on. How does your body language compliment your answers? Where do you wish you didn’t play with that object in front of you because it made your answer sound tentative? Or did you look away from the camera while saying something important? Make more notes.
6. Use your notes and adjust your answers as needed to improve on the contents. And practice answering them in a new way.
7. Find someone who has interviewed others in the past to listen to you. Ask him/her to ask the questions one by one and deliver your answers (updated words and delivery as per your adjustments). Ask for specific feedback on areas where your answers or delivery could be better.
Having made the adjustments and delivered your answers to the best of your ability on the day of the interview does not always mean the job is yours. There are many reasons why good candidates do not go to the next level of interviews. Do make sure you learn from your experience if you are not successful. Ask for specific feedback after the interview – regarding areas where they felt you did not meet expectations. Then use that as a checklist for the next time you prepare for an interview.