Thursday, August 29, 2013

Small Things That Make a Difference: Questions and Answers

There is no one thing, no magic move or act that will singularly get you a job you seek. Instead, you should look to improve small things here and there in your efforts and when you self critique your interview performance afterward. For most people it’s about making fine adjustments and the difference between being average and excellent is actually not a very big leap. There are a ton of things you can do to increase your chances and improve your efforts during your job hunting and interviewing efforts.
Sure, you’ve got to be qualified but is almost never only about qualifications. Let’s take, for example, the simple matter of asking and answering questions in an interview situation; I mean, how much more simple can it be, right? Whether it is a case of the nerves, enthusiasm or something else, in this case as in others it is not what is asked or is said, but how and it’s the how that provides better insight. Stay with me on this, it’s not complicated. “Slow down” is my overall advice but let me describe two examples of what I am talking about and then ask yourself if I am describing you.
When a person posing a question, be it either the interviewer or the interviewee, fails to await an answer, instead feeding an answer based on an assumption, they often answer their own question. This is irritating no matter who is asking the question and can render the entire question and answer ritual as a pointless exercise. Has this happened to you? We notice it when we’re on the receiving end but less so when we’re guilty of doing it. Here’s an example: let’s say you are asked a question about what you want to earn, “So tell me, how much money would you like to earn; what are your salary expectations?” And then, without waiting for your answer they offer, assume, suggest or feed their own answer, “So what is it, XX per year, is that it?” Or they might ask, “Can you tell me the reason you want to leave your current job position?” Again force feeding and assuming their own conclusion, “What was it, didn’t get along with your boss or something?” Or you might do it as a job applicant during an interview, “What does the job pay?” and then failing to wait for an answer, you quickly suggest, “What about XX per year or something like that.” When I hear and see this occur I want to shake them and tell them to stop talking and wait for the reply, geeez!
The second mistake is when answering a question, some folks are so eager to answer they prematurely respond before the question has been fully delivered, reminding me of a nervous Chihuahua bouncing around on a chair, or like the overly-eager smart kid in school knifing their hand upwards into the air, barely restraining themselves and saying, “Oh, oh, call on me!”
Please, for your own sake, slow down. An interview requires dialogue but there are moments when silence is golden. When you ask a question, present it and then stop talking, don’t feed an answer and wait. I don’t care how long it takes to get a reply, wait. If you must repeat the question or rephrase it do so and then, wait for the answer.
When you receive a question, no matter how sure you are of the answer, again wait! Very often you may miss a critical part of the question, resulting in an incomplete answer and looking silly. There is age-old advice that still applies, in which no matter how sure you are of the answer, silently, to yourself count “one-thousand-one” and then answer.
Cool and calm conveys confidence and self-assurance better than stressed and spastic. Don’t confuse it with being monotone or robotic; I’m not suggesting you put anyone to sleep. If you find it necessary, strive to make these changes and, by way of a number of small measures, you can make some big changes. Just showing up for the interview isn’t enough in the current jobs market so make an effort to up your game as much as possible.
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