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The 3 Best Ways to Practice Interview Questions (And How to Answer Them!)

Mar 22, 2021 | 4 minute read

interview

Have you ever been asked an interview question that tripped you up? Maybe the interviewer asked you about your weaknesses and you drew a blank; or they wanted an example of a time you managed conflict and you were unable to provide an answer. The best way to avoid this uncomfortable situation is to prepare and practice your answers to common interview questions. Doing so will help you identify which ones need more attention and allow you to have a more enjoyable (and successful!) job search.

How to Practice for Your Interview

1. Enlist a Friend or Family Member

Role playing an interview is a fantastic way to get comfortable with the process. Many of us don’t find ourselves verbally listing our achievements on a daily basis, so going through the motions will help you shake off any last-minute nerves and get feedback on your answers.

2. Use the Mirror

If you don’t have access to someone that can help you practice, you can still recite your answers to interview questions on your own while standing in front of a mirror. Use a recording app on your phone if you want to play back your answers later and listen with fresh ears. You may pick up on areas of improvement. Once you nail down exactly how to verbally explain an experience or accomplishment, you can go into an interview feeling much more confident.

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3. Brainstorm

Say you had a low-stakes entry level job and your boss and co-workers were nice and easy going. If this resonates with you, questions like, “How do you handle conflict in the workplace?” may not seem like they apply to your experience. It’s important to think outside the box.

For example, conflict doesn’t have to mean a co-worker screamed at you and you had to use conflict resolution to calm them down and find a solution. Instead, it could be something as simple as an impatient customer that expressed they were unhappy with long wait times. You could explain to the interviewer that you apologized to the customer, explained the reason for their wait, and worked to find a resolution.

If you are having a hard time finding answers relevant to your experience, sit down with a notebook and brainstorm. You may remember examples that weren’t immediately obvious to you. It’s best to find a concrete answer now instead of hoping you’re able to come up with one on the fly during the interview.

How to Answer Interview Questions

At the forefront, you should remember you are talking to a human being. Pay attention to how you are engaged in the conversation and ensure you are present. To do so, it’s recommended to sit up straight and relax your shoulders. Remind yourself you are a part of the small percentage who moved to the interview phase – just breathe and think about how you normally engage in a conversation. You wouldn’t tune out a friend while they were talking and instead fixate on what you’re planning to say next, so make sure you’re not doing it during an interview, either!

Remaining engaged will help show the recruiter the most authentic version of yourself. If you need mental reminders before or during the interview, here are four to keep top of mind:

  • Abundance: Believe in your talent.
  • Enthusiasm: Be present in the conversation.
  • Confidence: Have a story bank to dip into and provide factual examples.
  • Gratitude: Give sincere appreciation.

While the recruiter is listening to how you answer the questions, they are also working to make sure you meet specific criteria. Often, you don’t think about how the recruiter is processing the information you are telling them. They are looking at more than your qualifications; they are considering your responses to give them insight on:

  • Productivity: The recruiter is trying to determine if you are worth the risk. Bad hires are costly, so the recruiter is listening for responses that validate the investment in hiring you.
  • Engagement: Recruiters want to make sure you won’t be bored easily. They are evaluating if you will stay or search for another position quickly.
  • Contributions: We are hired to solve problems. Can you contribute from day one? How much training will be needed to get you up to speed?
  • Culture Fit: Aside from your past roles and experiences, they are gauging your fit to the company culture. Can they trust you, see growth potential, and understand your commitment?

While you will never know exactly what a recruiter or interviewer is going to ask, you can still do your best to prepare. Taking steps before the interview and enlisting good interview etiquette and best practices will set you up for success during your job search. For a further, in-depth analysis of effective job search activities, visit our Xavier Learning Center: Webinar Series page to view the webinar, How to Prepare for Interview Questions.

View our on-demand webinar recordings online, anytime.

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