How to Answer Interview Questions

An interview isn’t a conversation, it’s a monologue that you perform in front of judges.  Therefore, learning how to answer interview questions is really important,  since the unwritten rule of conversation doesn’t apply to an interview.  it’s probably closer to being on X Factor.   interviews require a balance of pre-prepared responses and stories combined with Being able to improvise four questions that are unexpected and almost impossible to prepare for.  In this blog post we’re going to look at the best strategies to give a great answer so that you can  calm interview nerves.


The Importance of Good Interview Preparation

At Job Interviewology we recognise that interviewing is a skill and like with any skill you need to learn it and therefore preparation is key. However, sometimes people can spend a lot of time in their interview preparation yet it’s not very productive and this is where learning how to prepare properly is vital and deliver high quality answers.  Below are my top tips for how to prepare for a job interview and how to answer interview questions.

  1. Clearly understand the Job Description and understand the key requirements for the role.
  2. Look to extrapolate potential questions from the JD to focus your preparation and not waste time.
  3. Research the organisation’s services, products, recent key achievements and values.
  4. Mapping your interview questions and answers using the STAR technique.
  5. Make sure that your interview answers are in bullet form rather than written out.
  6. Make sure you keep a ratio of 80% practising out aloud and 20% writing. An interview is not a written exam but a verbal exercise.
  7. Small and consistent interview practice throughout the day for example 30 minutes of practice every 2 hours.


Gather Information for Interview

One of the key parts of how to answer interview questions is gathering Information and is required to develop the best interview answers. As mentioned earlier in your preparation stage for the interview, you need to be able to review the job description and extrapolate what potential questions come up from that point.  you can hone in on the specific areas you are going to be required to find information.  This information usually falls into three key categories that you will need to gather insights on. 

  1. Gathering information for your examples  so that you are able to  evidence your stories with specific pieces of data and information.
  2.  look for synergies between the relevant experiences you have and what the company is currently doing, therefore that would require you to look for those connections for example it could be that they use a particular type of ERP and if you have some experience of it you can integrate that information into your answers.
  3. Researching the company within the context of your job both from a day to day perspective as well as how your role sits within the wider mission and vision of the organisation.


Outline Your Answers to Popular Interview Questions

Although you should be preparing for each individual interview uniquely because every job role is different.  In our online interview coaching experience there are certain interview questions and answers which consistently come up. Therefore Having an optimised strategy for each one of those popular questions is extremely important.  Below is my list of popular interview questions.

  1. Tell us about yourself?
  2. Walk us through your Resume/CV?
  3. What would you say are your key areas for development?
  4. Why have you applied for our company/organisation?
  5. What do you know about our organisation?
  6. Where do you envision yourself in the next five years?
  7. What is your proudest achievement?
  8. Provide an example where you’ve faced conflict within the workplace?

When outlining  your answers to these popular questions it’s important not to script out your response. Interviewing is a verbal exercise and by writing  a script which you intend to memorise and read out verbatim will always create difficulty both in terms of fluency in your delivery as well as your ability to actually remember the specific content of  your answer.

Therefore it is better to have two or three themes or areas of focus per answer so that you know the point that you want to make, why you want to make that point and how you actually went about actioning it. In this way you will maintain your fluency and natural delivery as well as being in a position where you are able to improvise, if required.


Identify Key Competencies for Interview

It’s important when going to an interview that you’re able to gauge what might come up at the interview. This will help you in focusing your preparation and preparing job interview questions and answers that are more acute and relevant. What are the ways to do this is to have a list of competency areas to look for within a job description from which you are able to  extrapolate potential questions and build quality responses and answers.  below our list of key competencies that you should be looking for when reviewing a job description. 

  1. Communication & Collaboration –  your ability to interact with your co-workers clients and team
  2. Leadership –  your ability to motivate inspire your team as well as those around you
  3. Project management –  the ability to lead transformation and change
  4. Operational management –  your ability to effectively manage teams on a day-to-day basis
  5. Innovation –  your ability to  to develop novel solutions to problems
  6. Decision making –  your ability to make effective decisions under time and resource pressure
  7. Motivation –  what gets you out of bed in the morning and what drives you as an individual

If you go through the job description you can normally see these key  competencies appearing within the content. From there you can then look to extrapolate potential questions for example  for Communication & Collaboration  you could extrapolate ‘provide an example of where you had to deal with a challenging co-worker?’ or  ‘provide an example where you have had to build partnerships across functional teams?’ Therefore be in a position to develop the best interview questions and answers.


Speak with Clarity and Conviction

Building an answer in terms of its content is of course very important however your ability to deliver your answer with clarity and conviction is equally as crucial. Ultimately an interview is a verbal exercise and the way that you are communicating your answers is through speaking so the more clear charismatic dynamic you are the more likely your answer will resonate  with the interviewer. So now we will look at some key techniques that you can utilise to speak with clarity and conviction.

  1. Practice is key,  your vocal cords are a muscle and like with any muscle to be able to make better use of it you need to exercise it.  This helps to create the mind to mouth connection.
  2.  When practising vary your tone you speak with the Lotto then raise it to a higher tone and fluctuate between the two this will create more dynamism in the way that you’re speaking.
  3.  very the speed in which you speak again when practising speak slowly and then speak faster.  By doing this you are keeping the interview engaged in what you’re saying.  usually want to slow down when there’s a very specific important point that you wish to emphasise on and speed up on less important points.
  4. Positive body language is very important and it also helps to boost your confidencelanguage  you can review Your Body Language by  sitting in front of the mirror and practising.  you can then see  how you are behaving and make the adjustments to present positive Body Language by.
      •  sitting up straight
      •  making eye contact
      •  moving your hands in rhythm with the way that you’re speaking but being decisive in the movements.
      •  your fidgeting and quirks.  you might find for example you twitch when you are anxious and that’s something that you need to manage.


Think About Your Strengths and Weaknesses

One aspect of an interview is to explore your strengths and your weaknesses and this can be assessed sometimes in a direct way such as “what are your strengths?” or “what are your weaknesses?” However, in many instances the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate are explored in a more nuanced way by the interviewer.  This is so that they can ascertain from your job interview answers more accurately for themselves what your actual strengths or weaknesses  could be. 

Strengths Questions:

  1. Can you describe a time where you took the lead and successfully achieved a goal? What personal qualities do you think contributed to that success? 
  2. What do you consider to be your greatest professional achievement, and how did you accomplish it? 
  3. Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a significant challenge at work. How did you approach it, and what was the outcome?
  4. In what areas do you believe your skills and expertise shine the most? 

Weaknesses Questions:

  1. Can you describe a situation where you faced a professional challenge due to a personal weakness? How did you address it? 
  2. What feedback have you received from previous supervisors or colleagues regarding areas for improvement? 
  3. Are there any particular tasks or situations that you find challenging? How do you typically approach them? 
  4. Describe a time when you made a mistake at work. What did you learn from it, and how did you prevent similar mistakes in the future?
  5. If you could improve one skill or aspect of your professional life, what would it be and why? 
  6. What is your current growth area?

The best way in how to answer interview questions and to strategize your approach to answer your weaknesses questions or strengths is by firstly having a clear idea of what your specific strengths are, I would suggest up to three.  and two  areas of possible weakness.  with each area you should have an example to support your reasoning.  because you need to be able to qualify and evidence your statement  regarding your strength or weakness to the interviewer.  also you should be able to explain the value of that particular strength within the context of the job role or why you identified this particular area weakness and what you’re doing to mitigate its negative impact in your professional life.


HOW TO ANSWER QUESTIONS which are unexpected, Learn to Think “on Your Feet” 

Sometimes during an interview questions can come up that can catch you off guard.  This can sometimes be done intentionally by the interviewer to stretch and challenge you,  or unintentionally because they are curious and just as much as the question is unexpected to you it is spontaneous for them. In this situation the key is knowing how to manage the moment just before you answer because once you start an answer it’s very difficult to turn back.  you’ve started to ski down the ski  slope and there’s only one direction you’re going to be moving in. Here it’s important not to rush into responding to the question. Take a moment to have a sip of water and give yourself two to three seconds to process the question before answering it.  What this will do is buy you a bit of time to work out how to answer interview questions and this can be an absolute game-changer when it comes to being able to deliver your answer with clarity and coherence.  Secondly is to not be afraid to fire a question back and answer the question with the question. It’s a riskier strategy but if  executed with the right tone you can sidestep the question.


Take Time to Calm Your Nerves Before the Interview

You could do all the answer preparation interview research as you like however if  you’re overly nervous the nerves can get the better of you and cause you to underperform. Therefore your ability to calm interview nerves  is crucial. There are a number of things that you can do to help calm your intervene nerves before the interview.

  1. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep,  the lower your stress and cortisol levels prior to the interview the more relaxable be and you’ll be in a better position to manage your nerves.
  2. Practise your job interview answers consistently the better you are the more you’ll be able to  rely on your muscle memory in those tricky moments.
  3.  Pause before you speak, don’t rush into answering the question, take your time to compose yourself before speaking.
  4.  engaging small talk with the interview prior to the interview starting formally this will  activate your vocal cords and help you transition into being calm in the interview.
  5. Have que sera sera  attitude you’ve got nothing to lose so go in there and try your best to enjoy it when you have this  mindset that automatically  reduces the pressure that you burden upon yourself.

Farhan Raja

I'm Farhan, the Founder and Coach at, one of the world’s leading Career and interview Coaching specialists. Bringing over a decade of industry experience and a passion for guiding individuals in their career journeys. As an Interview and Career Coach, I've authored the eBook '10 Simple Steps to CV & Resume Success,' directed a leading UK CV writing specialist, and pioneered the iPREP interview coaching methodology.

My career and interview coaching has spanned over 10 years across diverse industries, from IT giants like Google and Microsoft to vital sectors like Civil Service & NHS, Pharma, Finance, Engineering, Automotive, Construction, Logistics, Banking, and Management Consulting. I've had the privilege of assisting professionals in presenting their best selves, and targeting roles at renowned companies like Amazon, GSK, EY, Shell, Rolls Royce and more.

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