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How to answer job interview questions the right way

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Ice-breaker questions

Ice-breaker interview questions are usually asked in the early stages of the interview. They are predominantly used to help you feel more comfortable and to encourage you to open up about your skills, experience and personal attributes. Some common ice-breaker questions you may be asked include:

• Tell me about yourself

• What is it that you bring to this role?

• Why are you the best candidate for this position? 

• What is it about this role that appeals to you? 

• What is the biggest achievement you’ve made in your career?

When responding to an ice-breaker question, you want to keep things professional, but also incorporate elements of your personality. If asked to talk about yourself, you may choose to include a couple of personal details about your life, interests or personality. This is also an opportunity for you to sell yourself and demonstrate how and why you are a good fit for the position.

Hypothetical questions

Hypothetical questions provide you with a possible scenario and allow you to demonstrate the way you think through problems or challenges. Hypothetical questions often start with one of the following opening phrases: 

• Imagine you are… 

• What would you do if…?

• What steps would you take…? 

• How would you respond…?

The key to hypothetical questions is that they are asking you about things that happen in the future. Your interviewers don’t generally want to hear about things you have already done or achieved, but instead, want to see how you approach issues and to potentially test your technical knowledge in specific areas related to the role.

Behavioural questions

Behavioural questions are designed to elicit responses that include examples from your history. Behavioural questions are the most common interview questions, as the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. You’ll be able to recognise a behavioural question because it will start with a phrase like: 

• Tell me about a time when you…

• Please provide an example of…

• How have you responded in the past when…?

While hypothetical interview questions are about the future, behavioural questions are firmly based in the past. It’s important to share the details of work that you have completed and achievements you’ve already made.

The STAR Method

When responding to behavioural questions, it’s recommended that you use the STAR method to work through your responses methodically. The STAR method is as follows: 

• S – Situation: This is how you got into the situation. How did your example begin?

• T – Task: The task is the goal you were aiming to achieve. What did you need to do? 

• A – Action: The actions are the steps you took to achieve your goal. What did you do?

• R – Result: The result is the outcome of your efforts. What happened at the end?

The STAR method is incredibly useful for ensuring that you provide the required information in a structured manner and that you don’t get distracted or go off on tangents. You should practice talking about your examples using the STAR method prior to your interview, so that you are familiar with the technique.

Best of luck

Best of luck in your interview. Remember to take some time before your interview to calm your nerves through meditation, a gentle walk, listening to music, or doing something else that will help you to take control of your mindset.

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