How to structure your interview answers

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How to structure your interview answers

Have you ever been in an interview where you fumbled while answering or had no idea how to start answering the question? Have you ever got confused looks from your interviewers? Well, this is mostly due to the structuring of your answers. Switching directions in the middle of an answer, rambling on, or not saying much at all can impact your interview in a negative way. The situation can leave your Interviewers confused, impatient and exhausted, which may not bode well in your favour. Fortunately, there is a way to overcome this problem and structure your interview answers better.

Your answers should have a clear beginning, a middle, and an end.

The Beginning

The starting of your sentence should be precise and to the point.

Q: What are your greatest strengths? (common interview question)

A: My greatest strengths are leadership and delegation.

Here you have answered the question to the point without any unnecessary jargon.

The Middle

The middle of your answer will support your first sentence with some details and examples.

A: My greatest strength is leadership and delegation. I have been a part of many successful team projects right through college and in my previous jobs. In my last role, we had to deliver a complex task within 2 weeks. I had to lead and delegate work to my team of 7 people across 4 different offices. Each of them reported to me, and I organised all the information and created a team strategy.

Here you have supported your claim with clear details and examples to prove that you can lead and delegate in an effective manner.

Ending Statement

When you finish an answer, make them understand that you are done and have finished your point so that they are not left waiting to hear something more.

“Therefore, I think leadership and delegation are my greatest strengths”.

Behavioural interview questions

Interviewers use Behavioural type questions t to understand how you would react and behave in different situations. Here are a few examples –

If you see two co-workers engaged in a tussle, what would you do?

How do you handle a difficult task?

If you see two co-workers engaged in a tussle, what would you do?

If your boss has said something that you don’t agree with, how do you approach it?

Use the STAR method to answer behavioural questions.

Action - What did you do finally, and what resources you used to solve the problem?

Task – What was your role in that situation, and what were you supposed to do

Situation – It refers to the situation that you were in

Result - What was the outcome? What did you achieve? What did you learn?

Q: Describe a time when you were in a pressure situation. How did you deal with it?

S/T– I was leading a team of four for a project and we had to submit the assignment in 15 days. One of my team members was sick, and two were on leave, but I had to make sure we finished on time for our client.

Action – I divided the work of 4 amongst the two of us and had to set hourly targets. We worked 3 extra hours a day and made sure we hit those targets. I ensured that my team member was not over-burdened and tried to balance it as best we could. I had to make quick decisions and make sure that we were as accurate as possible.

Result – We were able to complete the project within 15 days. Our clients were pleased, we were accurate, and none of us was burnt out.

When answering behavioural questions, try and numbers, if possible, to add impact. Make sure you talk more about your contribution because interviewers need to see how you dealt with the situation.

Follow the 3P formula – Plan, Prepare, Practise

Interview preparation requires effort. You need to spend at least 10-15 hours planning for it. You can start by researching the company and the role that you are applying for. Furthermore, try to find out what is the company looking for in a candidate? What is the job description? What are the values and goals of the company? What are their important policies? Read, read, and read some more.

Write down a few questions that you think you can be asked depending on the research that you have done. Try to answer these in a structured manner. Be clear about what you want to convey through your answers. Go over it a few times as practise makes one perfect.

Structuring your interview answers takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature to you.

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