Interview Q&A Sessions – Part 2: The Interrogation
In part one of this series we talked about your objective of the Q&A session of an interview and how it can frame your answers. In this article, we’ll cover ways the interviewer’s objective and proper responses.
The interviewer’s objective is very similar to yours. They are interviewing to answer a few focused questions: Is this person the best person for this job? Does this person really want this job? Can they really do the job? Can I count on them to keep doing this job? While doing this job, will they hurt or help others trying to do their own jobs?
There are volumes of books for hiring managers about asking the right questions to lead you to answer these questions for them. However, regardless of their strategy you can answer these questions and still meet your objectives for the interview. To help remember the following tips:
Don’t take it personal: It is the interviewer’s job to filter out bad fits. Sometimes they will use aggressive or even painful questions to do so. Never take any question personally. It is not their goal to harm you in anyway. They don’t ask because they don’t like you. They ask hard questions because it’s a part of their job. They ask to get to the bottom of who you are and what you can really do for the company.
Don’t be defensive: It is only natural to become defensive when asked hard questions. When pressured our natural reaction is either one of fight or flight. Instead stay calm and answer the questions as confidently as possible. This attitude shows that you are comfortable with the hard parts of the job even if your answers don’t.
Don’t apologize for your experience: An apologetic attitude implies that you are not good enough and need their forgiveness to feel good about the interview. Unless you spill your coffee on the interviewer or something equally embarrassing, there is no need to be apologetic. Never apologize for a lack of experience or for struggling with a question.
Follow the interviewer’s lead: Don’t rush the questions or try to push your skills. Instead follow the interviewer’s lead and allow them to ask the questions they need to have answered. If you feel the interview is falling flat, try asking questions to guide the interview without taking the lead. For instance, I see in the job description that you need someone with (insert skill here) experience. I really enjoyed doing that for my last employer. Would you like me to discuss that experience?
Remembering these simple tips will make it much easier to get through even the toughest interviews.