In the Interview Clues series, Employment Solutions staff interview Michele Hazell, Human Resources and Operations Manager with over fifteen years’ experience across the private, non-profit, and government sectors.
Question: If you can’t answer an interview question right away, what should you do?
Michele Hazell: The best thing to do is to ask the interviewer if you can think about the question for a moment while you move on to the next question. Just remember to come back to the question you paused on. An interview is typically based on a scoring system, so if you skip a question, you’ll score a bit lower. The interviewer might remember to come back to that question or keep moving forward. Either way, when you are ready to respond, ask the interviewer to return to that question.
If you are asked about how you would respond in a particular type of situation, and you don’t know or don’t have that specific experience, you can tell the interviewer what you would do in that situation versus what you have done. But if you are totally stumped, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’m not familiar with that, but I can learn it.” If you are embellishing experience, the interviewer will see through that pretty quickly.
Always be honest in your responses and use the interview time wisely. If you don’t have the experience, let the interviewer know, and move on to the next question.
We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face. —Eleanor Roosevelt
Question: If the interviewer asks, “What is your area of improvement?” how do you respond?
Michele Hazell: Always keep answers about areas of improvement to professional matters. I’ve had people tell me areas of improvement in their personal life—that is a red flag. It’s a professional interview, so stick to professional topics.
If your area of improvement is something like time management or communication skills, don’t leave it at that—speak to what you’re doing to improve and what type of progress you’ve seen so far. Employers know that everyone has areas of opportunity, but when they ask this question, what they really want to know is: Are you taking initiative to improve?
Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence.
Question: What is a good way to answer the question “Why should I hire you”?
Michele Hazell: Study the job posting before the interview, which will give you a good idea of what the employer is looking for and a better sense of how to respond to this question. Then, stick to your skills. Focus on what you will bring to the job.
Sometimes people are shy or worry that they are bragging by telling the interviewer about their accomplishments, but remember that the employer really wants to know what you are capable of. It also demonstrates your confidence level. Employers are looking for individuals who will take initiative and who are confident in the skills and abilities they can bring to a position.
When you speak up about your skills and background, you might bring up something the interviewer hadn’t thought of, and it could be a game changer that helps you to get that job. But most importantly, it displays confidence and demonstrates that you’re interested in the role.
Put your future in good hands—your own.