Join Valerie Sutton for an in-depth discussion in this video Anticipating questions and preparing answers, part of Acing Your Interview (2013).
It is now time to prepare specific questions for your interview. Remember the purpose of the interview for the organization is twofold; to assess your skills and knowledge; and also determine the cultural fit. We will analyze the job description and develop a list of specific questions you may get in the interview. The first step is to start by analyzing the job description for primary skills and knowledge. Look at the Responsibilities and Qualifications sections to analyze this information.
Let's take a look at an example Project Manager description. The four items that would be most important to prepare for include: Leading multiple software development and integration projects in Agile. Scoping projects and managing risk. Estimates projects using multiple techniques. Delivering them on time and on budget. Mentors and guides people. The second step is more elusive in that you have to determine the culture and desired fit.
Look for descriptive words related to culture. In this example it would be "can-do" attitude, take charge of conference room, and unflappable. If there are not words related to culture in the description, then you may want to schedule an informational interview. You can now create sample questions based on the three types. Let's begin with the knowledge and skills. For example, a Behavioral Question would be, "Give me an example of a project you have scoped and how have you managed the risk." A Situation Question would be, "Walk us through how you would scope the project and manage the risk." And finally, a Resume-based Question, "Your resume states you managed the Agile projects successfully; tell us more about it." You can also prepare questions for the cultural fit.
In our example they are looking for a "can-do" attitude and someone that is unflappable. They may ask a Behavioral Question like, "Give us an example of where you have pushed through an idea." Or a Situational Question like, "How would you push through an idea at this organization?" Or a Resume-based Question, "You mentioned on your resume that you initiated a project, how did you do this?" Now it is time to prepare answers for your sample questions. It's important to have good examples lined up to showcase your skills and knowledge for each of the responsibilities.
Remember to be detailed in your answer. Use SAR as a way to prepare and make your answers stronger. Describe the Situation, explain your Action, and let them know the Results. Although you can't anticipate every question, this will give you a strong starting point to prepare. In the next movie, we'll talk about effective techniques that you can use to practice.
- Understanding interview formats
- Anticipating questions and preparing answers
- Researching potential employers
- Establishing good body language in the interview
- Reviewing your performance
- Answering questions using the Situation-Action-Result method
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: Where can I learn more about communication skills?
A: Discover more on this topic by visiting communication skills on lynda.com.
Q: This course was updated on 6/05/2013. What changed?
A: We added new videos on handling tricky and possibly illegal interview questions, what your body language says about you, and how to answer questions with the SAR (Situation-Action-Result) method.