The Job Interview: Eight Tips for Preparing to Answer Job Interview Questions

For most job candidates, the interview process can be pretty intimidating. It involves not only successfully communicating your value and experience, but also building rapport with your recruiter, the hiring manager, and any other decision makers you may come into contact with along the way. And the whole time you are supposed to appear comfortable, confident, and relaxed. That’s quite a task!

As a recruiter, I do my best to make job candidates feel at ease during job interviews. But I must admit, I am most drawn to those who are naturally self-assured and able to clearly articulate their abilities, accomplishments, strengths, and experience. In doing so, they quickly win my trust and interest.

As a career coach, I wear a different hat. I put a great deal of time and energy into preparing my clients to successfully navigate the interview process. While it may be the #1 step of the job seeking process that most people love to hate, an interview serves as a sign from a hiring company that you are strongly being considered for the role.

My advice? I believe one of the ways to build confidence is being able to answer interview questions in a manner that is clear, direct, and relevant. In preparing for you next job interview ¬— be it in person, over the phone, or online — consider the following tips:

  • Do your homework.
    Find out as much as you can about the job and the company beforehand. Read the job description. Review the company website. Take a look at where the company stands within the industry. Think carefully and objectively about how well you align with the job responsibilities, as well as how you might potentially fit in the company.
  • Create a conversation.
    While you may expect to be grilled, a good interview should feel less like an interrogation and more like a compelling conversation. Answer questions with an easy-to-listen tonality and rhythm in your voice. Show enthusiasm in sharing your accomplishments with your audience, as well as a genuine interest in learning more about the opportunity and the organization.
  • Provide examples.
    Be prepared to answer typical interview questions with a story about yourself. Cite specific examples of past work experience, activities, and accomplishments that demonstrate you have the right background for the job.
  • Play upon your strengths.
    Perhaps most important, be yourself and play up on your strengths. Know your weaknesses, but don’t get stuck on them. Talk candidly and briefly about any challenges you may have faced — as well as the steps you took to resolve them. Being able to demonstrate your ability to learn a new skill or task — or respond quickly to address an unexpected situation — can be helpful way to communicate your ability to adapt to change.
  • Use numbers.
    When appropriate, cite metrics. Did you implement a $20M+ enterprise resource planning (ERP) project across four national offices? Were you responsible for introducing 14 new products that ultimately doubled business growth in just four years? Maybe you implemented a solution that cut customer call waiting times in half? Find ways to weave numbers into your conversation. Being able to quantify your achievements can be a powerful way to create impact and be memorable.
  • Speak their language.
    Use keywords, action-oriented words and phrases that are common for the job and work environment you want. Try to identify situations where you and your interviewer might have shared experiences, interests and/or acquaintances. This can help to build trust in an interview.
  • Ask questions.
    Be sure to prepare a few good questions of your own. Curious about what markets the company may be planning to explore in the future? Want to know about your interviewer’s own experience with the company? Asking questions is a compelling way to demonstrate your interest, create a dialogue, and establish a bond with your interviewer.
  • Practice makes perfect.
    Consider what questions you anticipate your interview might ask. Think about your answers. You may want to ask a friend or family member to help you practice your responses. Not only will this help you structure your preparation, it will also provide you an opportunity to become more comfortable with giving answers, sharing examples, and using the appropriate terminology.

Finally, stay positive! Look at an interview on as an opportunity to communicate, share and learn. Taking the time to think about, talk about, and practice what you want to happen is a great way to enhance your chance of being invited for the next round of meetings.

Happy interviewing!

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