The Secrets to Masterfully Answering Interview Questions

The following strategies are the bedrock of great interview answers:

1.  TALK IN A CONVERSATIONAL TONE.  Q&A is essentially a formal conversation.  Without being too casual (using slang, filler words, etc.), be conversational with your answers.  Change the pace of your voice.  Look the interviewer or panel members directly in the eye.  Don't worry about saying the exact right thing.  If you say something that needs adjusted, do so.  Back up and say it again the right way.  If you need to, talk about the process. IE - "that is a great question", "I have studied that subject for two years now, but the answer to that question is escaping me at the moment."

2.  ANSWER IN LIST FORM.  This strategy is especially important because the individual(s) interviewing you probably have interviewed many other people just before you.  They are in information overload mode.  This is also a valuable tactic if you tend to ramble during your answers, which can happen to even a seasoned pro.  List form is exactly what the name implies.  As the question is being asked, you quickly think of two or three answers.  When you begin your answer, you say something similar to, "There are three great ways to answer your question."  And then you take them through the three answers. This is effective because if gives your answer structure (to keep you from rambling) and it helps the interviewer(s) have a clear and concise method for following your answer.

3. USE AN ANCHOR WORD OR PHRASE.  If the answer doesn't demand length, try the anchor word or phrase strategy. This is where you begin with one word or phrase that most accurately sums up your answer.  Then you give one or two supporting points.  Most times simple and brief will be received better than detailed and extravagant.

4. TELL STORIES.  This is essential if you want to be remembered and want to most effectively communicate your ideas and experiences.  Great story-telling demonstrates a depth of knowledge, an attention to detail and it gives your answers faces and places the judges can relate to quickly. Remember to give your story meaning by tightly connecting the story to their question quickly.

Interview coaching for many different situations is a core service we provide.  Drop us a call (405.517.7385) or a note (rhett (at) yournextspeaker.com) to learn more about how we can help you sharpen this valuable skill.


Get Your Marketing Wheels in Gear

Marketing Questions Your Team Should Be Discussing Regularly:
  1. Are we dedicating enough time to creating new marketing ideas?
  2. What is a marketing strategy that works better than it seems like it should?
  3. How are we deciding who is in our target market?
  4. What is our best marketing tool and why?
  5. What is our most cost-effective marketing tool?
  6. How are we deciding which media outlets to use?
  7. How are we capturing and using comments from satisfied customers?
  8. How are we measuring the success of marketing strategies?
  9. How has our marketing changed over the past few years?
  10. What is the source of our largest frustration related to marketing?
  11. What company or organization has the best (coolest, most creative, most cost-effective, etc.) marketing ideas?  Why?
  12. What marketing tool or strategy do we need to stop using?

Marketing Ideas to Consider:
  • All great marketing starts with a great product or service to market.  Be great.
  • Value people first, excellent work second, everything else third.
  • Understand the most influential drivers that bring business in, bring business back and drive business away.
  • Stay connected with and bring surprise value to your "Torchbearer 23 List" - 23 contacts that carry the torch for you and/or your business. (Read more about Torchbearers below.)  Never ask them for anything, though.  Just stay connected and serve his/her needs when you can.
  • Learn where, when and how to start customer relationships.
  • Learn where, when and how your competition is starting customer relationships.
  • Make the most of your raving fans.
  • Foster relationships that will lead to piggy-back, plan B, or other ways to provide value-added options for new customers.
  • Create brainstorming moments with your team: Assign an unbiased discussion leader, capture everything, no filters, no initial judgments, pick one or two ideas to try on at low-cost. 

Brainstorming Rules:
  • Schedule periodic brainstorming sessions to keep a steady flow of ideas flowing.
  • Have an unbiased discussion leader who is in charge of keeping the discussion going.
  • Capture everything.  Flip-chart ideas in the moment.  Take a picture of each one when the session is over and save those images for later.
  • No filtering of ideas - no matter the cost, the legality, the chance of success, etc.  
  • Keep initial judgments quiet.  There will be a time to give pros and cons.  A brainstorming session is not that time.
  • At the end of the session, pick a few low to no-cost ideas and try them on.  Also, pick a few that will require resources to implement and make sure those ideas live to be discussed another day.

A Torchbearer:
  1. Thirsty for helping company/organization grow.
  2. Owns a strong allegiance.
  3. Values and fosters relationships.
  4. Gains part of identity from organization.
  5. Clearly understands his/her role.
  6. Knows and believes in company/organization's core values.
  7. Speaks positively about the organization, it's leadership and it's members.

These ideas were shared as part one of a three-part series of business development seminars I presented for the BBB Serving Central Oklahoma on May 20, 2015.  Learn more about the series and value the BBB can bring to your business here.