Why don't you tell me about your personal situation? - '

We don't have the space here to give thorough answers to all of these questions, and there are potentially hundreds of additional questions you might be asked. Instead, in the next section we suggest several techniques we have developed that you can use to answer almost any interview question.

A Traditional Interview Is Not a Friendly Exchange

It is important to understand what is going on in most interviews. In a traditional interview situation, there is a job opening, and you are one of several (or one of a hundred) applicants. In this setting, the employer's task is to eliminate all but one applicant.

Assuming that you got as far as an interview, the interviewer's questions are designed to elicit information that can be used to screen you out. If you are wise, you know that your task is to avoid getting screened out. It's not an open and honest interaction, is it? This illustrates yet another advantage of nontraditional job search techniques: the ability to talk to an employer before an opening exists. This eliminates the stress of a traditional interview. Employers are not trying to screen you out, and you are not trying to keep them from finding out the bad stuff about you.

The Four-Step Process for Answering Interview Questions

We know this might seem too simple, but the Four-Step Process is easy to remember. Its simplicity allows you to evaluate a question and create a good answer. The technique is based on sound principles and has worked for thousands of people, so consider trying it.

1. Understand what is really being asked. Most questions are really designed to find out about your self-management skills and personality. Although they are rarely this blunt, the employer's real questions are often directed at finding out the following:

• Are you easy to get along with? Are you a good worker?

• Do you have the experience and training to do the job if we hire you?

• Are you likely to stay on the job for a reasonable period of time and be productive?

Ultimately, if the employer is not convinced that you will stay and be a good worker, it won't matter if you have the best credentials. He or she won't hire you.

2. Answer the question briefly, in a non-damaging way. Acknowledge the facts, but present them as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.

Many interview questions will encourage you to provide negative information. The classic is the "What are your major weaknesses?" question that we included in our top 10 problem questions list. Obviously, this is a trick question, and many people are not prepared for it. A good response might be to mention something that is not all that damaging, such as "I have been told that I am a perfectionist, sometimes not delegating as effectively as I might." But your answer is not complete until you do the last step.

3. Answer the real concern by presenting your related skills. Base your answer on the key skills that you have identified and that are needed in this job. Give examples to support your skills statements. For example, an employer might say to a recent graduate, "We were looking for someone with more experience in this field. Why should we consider you?" Here is one possible answer: "I'm sure there are people who have more experience, but I do have more than six years of work experience, including three years of advanced training and hands-on experience using the latest methods and techniques. Because my training is recent, I am open to new ideas and am used to working hard and learning quickly."

4. Use a specific example from your experience to support your skills statement. Many employers believe that your past performance is the best indicator of your future performance. In other words, what you have done in the past lets them know what you will do when faced with similar circumstances in the future. Some employers ask for these specific examples using what are called "behavior-based" interview questions.

When you hear a question that begins, "Tell me about a time..." or "Give me a specific example." you will know that you are being asked a behavior-based question. The interviewer wants you to answer the question in three parts: S—Situation (what was going on), A—Actions (what did you do about it), and R—Results (what was the outcome). Once you get the hang of it, these SAR stories are easy to tell and are a great way to convey relevant skills and accomplishments.

We recommend that you practice some SAR stories and use them whenever possible to bolster your interview answers. The recent graduate quoted above could add to the response given: "For example, in my co-op job I was asked to lead the training for our new product. I had only weeks to learn the product and learn how to teach it. It involved our advanced technology so it was quite challenging. I was able to train our entire 40-person office in another two weeks, and as a result we became the first office in our region to handle a customer installation of the new product."

As you can see, adding the SAR component to an already good answer will help you to clearly communicate your capabilities in the interview. In the example we presented in Step 2 (about your need to delegate more effectively), a good skills statement might be "I have been working on this problem and have learned to be more willing to let my staff do things, making sure that they have good training and supervision. I've found that their performance improves, and it frees me up to do other things."

Tip: Whatever your situation, learn to use it to your advantage. It is essential to communicate your skills during an interview, and the Four-Step Process gives you a technique that can dramatically improve your responses. It works!

Then, you could add a SAR story to strengthen this good response. "When I took on a high-level project for our chairman, I decided to let go of one of my key responsibilities, preparing end-of-the-month reports for our management team. I trained my staff and closely supervised the first time they handled this, and they performed just great. Since then, I've had to spend only about 15 minutes a month reviewing their work, instead of the 6 hours I used to spend creating the reports. Morale has really gone up in the office, and I've kept every deadline for my new, very challenging project."

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Job Breakthrough

Job Breakthrough

This resume template has been created to help you follow the sections and structure of the resume outlined in this video training, feel free to play around with it. It will enhance you to deliver a winning resume that is guarantee to get you an interview to your potential employer, so take the time to customize it and make it yours.

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