4. ...and come up with responses to them
It’s not enough to just be aware of the types of questions you could be asked. To really improve your chances of acing an interview, you’ll have to create some responses to potential questions ahead of time.
Whilst it is pretty labour intensive, this approach can be really useful when it comes to creating unique answers that respond in the way that the employer is expecting and that don’t leave anything out. Creating a rough set of responses to possible questions ahead of time also takes off some of the pressure from you.
The STAR framework
The easiest way to prepare responses to interview questions is to use the STAR framework.
STAR stands for Situation Task Action Result. It’s a useful way to break down a complex question into smaller parts and ensure that you answer it in the right way.
- Situation: Describe the overall situation you were in.
- Task: Describe the specific task that you needed to complete
- Action: Describe the action you took to complete the task
- Result: Describe the result and anything you learned during the process
By using the STAR framework, you’ll be able to construct an answer on the spot that covers all of the key information the employer is looking for without having to do a lot of prior research or tonnes of preparation. The beauty of STAR is that it’s quite a natural way to respond to a question (even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time). Linguistically, we usually structure our answers to similar questions in similar ways, starting with context and the situation, describing a task and action we took, and describing the result. That’s all you’re doing here too: just in front of an interview panel.
5. Emphasise your strengths…
Most of us are naturally quite modest when it comes to talking about our strengths and things that we’re good at. In the context of an interview, having pride in your skills and achievements can help you to demonstrate confidence and show that you have the skills the interviewers are looking for though. This means we need to strike the right balance between being humble but not meek, and being proud but not arrogant.
- Concentrate on a few areas that you’re good at: don’t say you’re good at everything! It’s better to be really good at a handful of things rather than mediocre at everything.
- Identify your strengths by thinking about positive feedback you’ve received from others, and things that you think you’ve performed successfully
- Root your strengths in practical examples from your career history – this will keep you on track with aligning your responses to the requirements of the job description.
6. ...but acknowledge your weaknesses
At the same time, we also need to acknowledge the fact that we’re human and we’re not machines. We aren’t perfect and there are always elements of our professional skills, knowledge and experience that we need to build on.
Acknowledging your weakness in an area can seem counterintuitive when you’re trying to convince a hiring manager that you’re the candidate that has the qualities best suited to the job on offer. But it shows that you’re honest and that you’re willing to learn – important qualities in any candidate worth hiring. The important thing to do though when talking about your weakness, is to turn it into a strength somehow.
For example, say you’re in an interview for a position as an Accountant and you’re asked “Give me an example of a weakness you have in your skillset?” you could answer: “In the past, I’ve struggled with spelling and grammar. I identified what was holding me back when it came to this, hired a tutor, and enrolled on an English course to help me improve my skills. Now I feel that I have a good understanding of spelling and grammar and it doesn’t hold me back as much anymore. I feel confident enough in my abilities that I produce our monthly staff newsletter.”
Here, you’ve identified a weakness that won’t stop you from doing the role (spelling and grammar isn’t as important as mathematics skills when it comes to accountancy). You’ve shown that you have created a plan for how to work on that weakness (by studying a qualification in this instance) and, at the end, you prove that the weakness doesn’t restrict you anymore (you now write the staff newsletter every month, calling for a decent grasp of spelling and grammar).
Adopt a similar approach and you’ll be able to turn most weaknesses into a strength. Think about areas where you feel you’re particularly weak in your skillset and identify ways that you’ve worked to improve them throughout your career or life in general.
There you have it! We hope these 6 tips have you feeling better prepared and ready for your next interview. Good luck!
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