Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Winning Image at Job Interviews - Responding to Questions

Posted in: ,

Do not be mistaken; interviews are about making great impressions- that is what they called you for anyway. If your CV was enough to make all the impressions needed to get them to hire you, there would have been no need for an interview. The hiring manager wants you to stand out in the way you describe your competencies and experiences.

They want to listen to your words and how you order those words, therefore mastering how to talk at interviews enhances your image and your chances of being hired. The following tips would be helpful, when taken seriously and practiced:


In order to respond to questions correctly, you need to be a good listener at the interview, even if you fumble at doing so normally. There is the tendency to want to take up the airspace and fill it with your voice either out of nervousness or sometimes, overconfidence. Listen!

Listening involves concentrating on your conversation partner (this time, the interviewer), and ignoring other activities and stimuli, including your nervousness. It involves paying attention to the interviewer’s body language also: smile, excitement in the voice, tone…generally, cues to his disposition to you. A generally bright disposition to you means you can ride on that, reflect the smile and excitement and boost your confidence. On the other hand, if the vibes you get are not so positive, it gives you a cue to talk more convincingly, yet calmly and confidently. You can choose to speak to other people on the panel with healthier dispositions. Don’t let anyone drain your confidence!


Pause and think about your answers: When questions are posed and you have listened, don’t rush an answer if it is not coming so fast; pause and think before you talk. This moment of pause can also be used to paraphrase the question (say the question back in your own words to them) in order to get a better understanding of it.

Speak clearly: the interviewer’s time is precious; there are other candidates waiting to be interviewed, if not, his table has files unattended. He may not have the time to keep asking you to repeat yourself. Speak to be heard and understood. Let your mouth be seen, take your hands away from it; do not chew anything in your mouth.

Speak confidently: to sound confident, do not rush; pace your speech comfortably. Do not lull either. Let your voice be up, let your tone be alive and happy too. There is however no way you can sound confident if you do not know yourself well enough to talk about yourself or the company and your role. These are the areas of discussion, usually, at an interview; so do your research and be well prepared.

Say only what needs to be said: don’t be tempted to say too much. At an interview, questions typically focus on these areas: background, skill and experience; education and training; goals and objectives; weaknesses and potential challenges. Provide concise answers to these and do not ramble. A follow up article to this would show you how to respond to typical interview questions.

Mind your grammar and tenses: clear evidence that you have basic education required for your job is ability to communicate fairly well in English language (Nigeria’s official Language). If you cannot, it discredits your degree or diploma claims. Speak correctly with the right vocabulary, tenses and grammar. An occasional slip may be condoned, but making an error in every sentence may work against you. Part of your preparation to get a good job may be to get a grammar coach or an honest friend with whom you can constantly converse, and get corrected.

Possibility of small talk

Depending on the mood of the interview, there may occasion for a chit chat or small talk, where your interviewers engage you in discussion not related to the  interview directly; but do not be deceived, assessment is still going on. You may get into a chat about the weather, yesterday’s game, your tie, just about anything. The key to doing well is to be open, sincere, to care genuinely. Do not let the chat go one way. When a question, say, about your tie is asked: “nice tie, where did you get that”? A good response could be; “oh, thank you, my sister gave me as a birthday present. You tie is not bad too; do you like ties?” You have shown confidence, openness and sincerity (by mentioning your sister), and you have bounced back the conversation to him. He picks it up, and before you know it, you have built a good rapport that will sure work for you. Imagine if you had stopped with “Thank you”.

Be prepared with questions

It is good that you prepare to ask questions, after you have been asked a couple. This usually indicates interest in the job and the company. Before your interview, do a research on the organization; visit their website; google for news about them on the internet; read their vision, mission and value statements- these would give you an idea of what makes the organization tick. These will serve as an ample source of questions to ask. You may also ask questions about your new role, and who you will be reporting to, the size of the department you are likely to be working in; by asking these questions, you sound ready to join them.
Keep away from questions about benefits and remuneration; usually, they will bring it up, and if not, it will always come up at point of offer- a time you might have more leverage for negotiation.
Next write up is on Posture and Body Language. We would examine what you can do with your walking, handshake and other body positions to better your chances of being hired.


This article “Winning Image at Job Interviews” was written by Boye Falonipe, Principal Consultant at Noir Enhancement-  Business Image and Protocol Consultant ( )
Boye is the author of the essential manual on Business Dressing “Succeeding with Appearance in Business and Career” ( )

Twitter: @NoirEnhancement
Facebook: Boye Falonipe


Click Post a Comment to share your thoughts, I'll love to hear from you. Thanks!

*Comments on old posts are moderated and may take sometime to be shown. That's just because I want to see them and respond to you if necessary.