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How to Improve Answers to Interview Questions

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A job interview is an opportunity for a prospective employer to learn more about the qualities you bring to a job. In an interview, the employer observes your self-confidence, communication skills and enthusiasm. The employer also assesses your problem-solving abilities, credentials and maturity by asking questions and listening to your answers. Improve the answers you provide by clearly describing specific examples of your achievements and ways you can benefit the employer’s business.

Write a list of questions you think an interviewer might ask you. Ask a teacher or career counselor to help you formulate questions specific to your career. Employers frequently ask about your short and long term goals, the reason you chose the career you are pursuing and the ways you can contribute to the business. Next to each question, write an answer of one to three sentences. Although you will not take your notes into an interview, the process of writing, reading and practicing your answers before the interview will help you remember the key points you want to make during the interview.

Answer difficult questions directly. If the interviewer asks about a poor grade in a class or a previous job dismissal, don’t avoid the question and don’t blame others for the problem. Take responsibility for your past. Tell the interviewer what you learned from your past mistakes and the positive qualities that you have developed as a result of these incidents.

Convey enthusiasm in your answers. If an employer asks why he should hire you, mention two or three strengths you can bring to the job such as an ability to get work done promptly, set goals or adapt to new situations. Keep the focus on what you can do for the employer if hired. A broad invitation by the interviewer to “tell me about yourself” should remain focused on the training and experience you have gained that will be useful to the prospective employer.

Practice answering interview questions with a career counselor. Tape record your practice answers and replay them to observe whether you exhibit distracting behaviors or poor eye contact. Avoid repeating yourself. Don’t memorize answers, as this will sound stiff in an interview. Instead, remember key ideas that you can include in your responses to specific questions. Keep your answers less than two minutes.

Mention transferable skills in your answers. Transferable skills are those attributes you have demonstrated in previous situations that can be useful in a new job. For example, if an interviewer asks about your most successful project, identify one or two specific things you did that made the project successful and inform the interviewer that you can bring those same skills to his company to make his projects successful.