There are two powerful words that you can use in your next job interview that can take your responses from mediocre to magnificent.
Generalized Job Interview Answers are Boring
One of the main mistakes I see job seekers make is that they are just too general and not specific enough when they’re responding to job interview questions.
To be more interesting, it’s much better to share specifics and paint a vivid picture of your accomplishments. This helps your interviewer envision you doing the job.
These two powerful words are: “For example.”
From Generally Boring to Specifically Interesting
Let’s say that your interviewer asks, “What are the three primary strengths that you would bring to our organization?”
You might say, “I’m a great communicator, I’m an excellent team leader, and I have a very high level of technical aptitude–way more than my peers.”
While those are great qualities and skills to bring to a company, simply listing them off without evidence is boring.
To breathe some life into this response and make it more interesting, you could instead say,
“I’m a great communicator. For example, I was the ad hoc last set of eyes on all communications before they ever left our department and I was happy to do that. I enjoy editing and finding new ways of saying things.”
“I’m a great team leader and have guided groups of 8-40 people. I believe in servant leadership and providing my team with the tools, technology, and training they need to do their job. I’m always looking at how I can support my team to help us achieve our goals.”
“I have a higher level of technical aptitude than most. While my primary expertise is in finance, my first job out of college was in IT working in customer support for two years. So I do have a higher level of technical aptitude that can be really helpful to my team.”
Do you see the difference? You were able to illustrate and provide evidence of why it’s a strength in a short amount of time to keep your answer tight.
This technique works when responding to behavioral questions.
Proactively Provide Examples
If the hiring manager asks a behavioral question such as, “How do you handle conflict with a team member?”
A generalized answer would be, “I believe in approaching the person, having direct communication, and arriving at a solution.” That doesn’t really tell the interviewer anything.
However, your more specific self can give a much stronger answer like,
“I believe in communicating directly with the person and arriving at a solution. For example, recently, my team member and I were having a difference of opinion on the direction that we should take with the company website. I felt it should be clean and simple with a distinct call to action. They thought it should be more comprehensive with lots of resources and sophisticated design elements. We were going around in circles on this. Then we realized that we really should be asking the customer about what they prefer. So we reached out, asked a few people, and the decision was clear.”
When you give an example–even if the person didn’t outright ask for one–you’re giving evidence of how you operate, providing some insight about what you do, and illustrating what your strengths are once you’re inside the organization.
At your next interview, use “for example” as a routine part of your responses. You’ll be more interesting, memorable, and better positioned for more interviews and offers.