Your job interview is progressing as if you wrote the script yourself. You are presenting your qualifications and work experience in a flawless manner. The interviewer seems to be in agreement with you, until the next question comes; it’s a tough interview question. You did not see it coming.
All of a sudden you become tongue tied and you see the job you thought you already had slipping from your grasp. What do I say? You ask yourself.
There are several steps you can take to have the right answers when you are asked tough interview questions.
The Best offense is a good defense
Getting ready for an interview in advance is the best way to ensure that you will give a good performance when tough interview questions are thrown at you. Compile a list of possible questions that you could be asked, both job specific and general questions and come up with answers to these questions. Practice answering these questions until you provide solid and convincing answers to them. Rehearse in front of a mirror until you are satisfied and comfortable with the answer you provide. More often than not, job applicants prep for difficult questions, and then get tongue tied when asked simple questions like, “Tell me about yourself.”
Take a Deep breath
Realistically, it would be impossible to think of and practice every potential question that you could be asked, and you therefore have to be ready when the question you did not prepare for is asked. When you are asked a tough question, the first thing to do is to take a deep breath. Most people unconsciously hold there breathe at this point, but this is the time you brain needs oxygen the most. Repeat the question to yourself either to yourself or back to the interviewer to make sure you understand the question. Quickly relate to your practice sessions to draw correlations between this question and others you have practiced. The question could be a variation of one you have answered before, or similar to other questions. If you can draw a parallel to this new question to ones you have already prepared for, than finding an answer to them will not be very daunting.
Divide and rule
Another good approach is to break the question into parts so you can take them bit by bit. This system is particularly useful for multi part questions. . For example, imagine you are asked: “Tell me about a time when you found yourself at odds with a team member. What were the circumstances and how did you handle the confrontation”. The first thing to do is break this into two parts: (1) provide an example of a team member confrontation, and (2) how did the confrontation get resolved. When answering this question, focus entirely on the first part initially. Set the stage for the conflict that arose, giving the interviewer all of the necessary details. Once you are done with this aspect, you can then move on to the next part explaining how the conflict was resolved.
The resolution to the problem is really what the interviewer is interested in. They want to know how you handle conflicts and stressful situations, so therefore address this part of the question adequately. This approach is the best way to handle multi part questions, break it into 2 parts; first part is an opportunity to set the stage for the other more pertinent part of the question.
Call a spade a spade
When you are asked a question you do not have an answer to, it is better to admit that you are not sure of the answer than to bluff your way through. Most interviewers are highly experienced and know “BS” when they see it, and you will not be doing yourself any favors by trying to bluff your way through.
So when asked questions you do not have the answer to, an appropriate response will be to admit that you do not have the answer, but you would like to do some research at the conclusion of the interview and will have the knowledge for future reference. An answer like that not only shows integrity, but shows your willingness to expand your knowledge by taking every necessary step to keep your skills up to date.
Some other worthwhile tips:-
Always ask the interviewer to repeat questions you didn’t hear the first time or do not understand. Or if a multi -step question to remind you of the later questions.
Ask for clarification if the question is not clear so that you do not go off on the wrong tangent.
It is better not to volunteer information unless you are 100% sure it will enhance the interview in your favor
Try and turn negatives into positives. For example when asked about weaknesses demonstrate how this weakness eventually became an asset fro example, you used to be very scared of public speaking but you face the problem head on and can now as least put your thoughts across when talking to a group.
Relax! Interviewing is a learning process and you will get stronger each time you interview for a potential position. If an interview goes bad, rather than dwell on it, identify where things went wrong and work on correcting those areas so that you can perform better in your next interview.
Remember when you have a bunch of interviews to go for, schedule them from the least important to the one you actually prefer last on the list. The reason is that by the time you get to the one you want you are a veteran and will be calm and calculated.