There is an awful lot of chitchat, jibber jabber, and small talk going on in interviews. When you take a closer look at the exchanges, you can see that there are only a few questions the interviewer is really bothered about. The rest are simply there to create rapport and filling the gaps.
The reason you will always struggle to prepare answers to every single question you are asked in an interview is that the interviewer themselves didn’t prepare them. They don’t really care too much about all the answers you give either. What we do know is that an interviewer has one major objective to fulfill and that is to get the answers to the five basic questions. Based on the answers, he or she will then compare the answers to that of any other interviewer’s and they will then rule you in or out. Here is the list:
1) What brings you to this interview?
This is where the interviewer wants to see how well you have researched this position, how committed you really are to the company, and why you are looking for a new job in the first place. Make sure you read up on the job and can say exactly how it fits your skills. Do your homework on the company so that you can explain why you are on their interview couch and not the competitor’s. Finally, you will inevitably have to explain what brought you to a job interview, prepare to outline your reason for changing jobs.
2) What value will you add to our company?
The interviewer is hoping you might be the solution to their problems, so let’s tune in to WIIFM and crank up the volume. List your main skills and how these will be directly applicable if you get the job. Back your claims up with achievements from your previous jobs, preferably quantified ($x increase in sales, 30% savings on paper clips). Forget what you want to get out of the job you are interviewing for, this is all about what they will get from you.
3) Can you work well with the team?
Here’s your chance to elaborate on how well you get on with people from all walks of life. Tell them how you have a strong opinion of your own, but always make compromises and move forward for the best interest of the team and the company. Throw in some examples where you went the extra mile for your team and indicate how you will do the same for the team you would join.
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4) What is special about you?
Let’s face it; every candidate that comes through the employer’s door will be praising themselves in their interview. This means that not only do you have to brag about yourself, but in order to be credible you will have to give specific examples from when you have achieved greatness in the past. Tell them about when you solved that huge issue for your company’s biggest client and saved the Christmas party for everyone. Whatever nice and tangible achievement makes you special, memorize it, and get ready to deliver it when prompted.
5) What’s your salary and when can you start?
If you get this question, you are probably doing well. These two points are classic buying signals. They indicate that the interviewer is actually calculating how much money they can make from you and when to begin doing so. The answer you want to give has to be low enough to make you competitive and high enough to avoid looking desperate. A good trick is to be sketchy and give them a salary range and say that you can’t really give a definite answer until you can compare the benefits to what you have already. Indicate that you will be flexible and that there will be a way to work out both the financials and start date, should you get to that stage.
Finally, what is your experience with these five questions vs. small talk in interviews?