Anxious about job interviews: This guide will help you prepare for the toughest questions (infographic)

Getting an interview is good news, right? It means that you’ve submitted an attractive application and your prospective employer thinks you’re a viable candidate. Now’s your chance to make a good impression and show them that you’re the right person for the job. This is the stage that many people dread the most, but don’t panic!

It’s natural to feel a little nervous about an upcoming interview. You want to stand out from the competition, and you’re also anxious to avoid saying something that will put your prospective employer off. There’s a fine balance between showing confidence in your abilities and enthusiasm for the job, and coming across as arrogant or desperate. So how do you make the most of this opportunity, and avoid interview-awkwardness?

Well, as with so many things in life, preparation is the key to success. To mentally prepare for an interview, it helps to do a little research. That includes getting a clear idea of the job description and considering how you want to present yourself. It also means anticipating what kinds of questions you might get asked, and thinking about the type of things that interviewers find impressive.

It helps to take some time to practice before your interview, but remember that you can’t predict exactly what you’ll be asked. Even if you could, you don’t want to sound too mechanical or rehearsed, so avoid preparing a script or stock phrases. If you can, get a friend to ask you various different types of questions so you’re used to responding to a range of prompts in a positive way.

Make your career path meaningful

Your resume should already give your interviewer the key facts about your qualifications and work experience, but the likelihood is that they will want you to expand on this when it comes to the interview. The really important thing to remember is to show that your professional experience is meaningful and relevant.

For example, if you get asked about a time you failed in the past, don’t focus on the negative experience. Frame it as a challenge that you learned something from, to show that you can reflect positively on adversity. Don’t be tempted to vent grievances, either. Even if you’re asked the worst thing about your previous job, you need to put a positive slant on it. Talk about what you do appreciate (if possible), before shifting focus onto what you are looking forward to experiencing more of in the new company, instead.

If you’re asked why you want the job, or what your future plans are, don’t feel pressured to talk about your financial situation or personal life, to or share your secret ambitions. The interviewer wants to know that your professional goals and values align with the company’s working culture, so focus on the skills and experience you’re hoping to develop as part of the job.

Balance confidence with self-awareness

Some people love to big themselves up, while others are more self-depreciating. In an interview, it’s really important to be able to promote yourself effectively without coming across as arrogant or insincere. Don’t forget that your interviewer is looking for what you will bring to the job, so that should help you focus your response.

If the interviewer asks why they should hire you, focus on your qualifications and experience, and give clear examples of achievements that you’re proud of. If they want to know your ‘superpower,’ you should be ready to talk about your key skills, and how they are relevant to the position.

You might feel anxious talking about your weaknesses. You want to paint yourself in a good light, but don’t fall back on clichés like ‘perfectionism.’ It’s better to be authentic and honest. Being able to identify a skill that you would like to develop more shows a willingness to learn that employers appreciate, especially if you indicate that you’re already working on it.

Don’t let surprise questions trip you up

No one likes to be put on the spot, and an unexpected interview question that leaves you feeling unprepared or incertain how to respond can really throw you off-course. Some ‘brain-teaser’ type questions or task-based challenges can seem designed to do just that, but as long as you know what these questions are really about, you should be able to respond appropriately.

At first glance, this type of question can seem random, and impossible to answer effectively without preparation, but the interviewer isn’t really looking for the perfect answer. They’re giving you an opportunity to show that you can think on your feet and embrace a challenge.

Consider this a chance to demonstrate some key skills. So, being challenged to ‘sell’ a pen is asking for you to make a connection with your audience, and a question about the number of gas stations in the US requires you to analyze a problem and devise a solution. When you look at it from that perspective, these questions aren’t really that bizarre, after all.

If you can learn to approach any question as an opportunity to communicate something relevant to the job, you’ll be able to turn even the toughest question to your advantage. surveyed 2000 Americans about the worst questions to be asked in interviews, and created this infographic with expert tips on how to respond effectively.

The worst job interview questions, revealed - infographic

(SURVEY) Job hunters reveal worst interview questions they are getting asked in 2020 - infographic

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