We know – interviews can be daunting. There are many things to think about, from what to wear to what to say.
If you have been recently invited to an interview, congratulations!
But how long should interview answers be? And what should you say and what should you not say in an interview?
You might already have some experience with interviews, or you might be completely new to the interview process.
Whichever it is, don’t worry, as this simple guide will help you to answer interview questions effectively in a way that will leave your interviewer impressed.
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So, How Long Should Interview Answers Be?
The simple answer is that interview answers should be as short as possible, while saying everything that needs to be said.
This might seem vague, but the less you say while keeping your answers to the point, yet appealing to the interviewer, the less convoluted your answers will be and therefore the more memorable and clear they will be.
However, this does not mean that you should reply with one-word answers. Answering interview questions with several sentences is fine. All that matters is that you say what needs to be said to answer the question to a satisfactory degree.
So, what should you say in your interview answers? We cover this down below.
What To Say And What Not To Say In An Interview
The goal of any interview is to sell yourself confidently, but honestly, with a constant awareness of what the job entails and requires.
This is why it is always important to familiarize yourself with the job description, job requirements, and even the company itself before going into the interview, as this will help you to answer each question confidently and competently.
Everything that will make you a good candidate for the job role is going to be worth saying. This includes your skills, traits, and general strengths, and subsequently why these make you the perfect person for the job.
What should not be said is anything that is irrelevant to what the job requires, unless the interviewer asks. This can include interests and pastimes, weaknesses, and skills that are not relevant to the job.
Sell Yourself, But Avoid Arrogance
Of course, an interviewer will want to know all about your strengths and skills to find out whether you are up to the task, and it’s fine to answer interview questions highlighting your strengths and experience.
The key, however, is to sell yourself, but not come across as arrogant or overconfident. And it lies in how you communicate your answers.
For example, avoid strong adjectives, such as “brilliant”, “gifted”, or “accomplished”, as these can come across as arrogant. Word your answers in a way that shows you are competent, but not vain. “Efficient”, “hard-working”, and “creative” are examples that are more suitable.
You can also begin one or two of your answers with “I consider myself to be…” or “I regard myself as…” to convey modesty.
At the same time, your body language and facial expressions are also important. Answer your interview questions in a composed manner, with the occasional smile, without seeming overconfident or laid-back.
Keep Your Introduction To The Point
A well-planned introduction can set your interview off to a good start, which includes how your interviewer will perceive you for the rest of the interview.
When meeting your interviewer initially, a smile, handshake, and asking how they are will suffice.
When asked “tell me about yourself” or “tell me why you think you are the right person for this job”, keep your answer to the point. This is a great opportunity to summarize your strengths, skills, and personality, but it should not go on for more than a few minutes.
The reason for this is that the interviewer will consider this as an introduction and will therefore expect a short summary, before being able to go into the main questions that need to be asked.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
While you should sell yourself in any job interview, you should also be honest. This includes not lying about what you can do, your background, or work experience.
Ultimately, this will come back to you and reflect badly on your personality if you get the job but cannot perform the tasks that you initially claimed you could do.
You might also be asked personal questions in your interview, but that does not mean you have to answer them outright. For example, if questioned on your current/previous salary, you can provide a ballpark figure without being upfront and honest if it makes you uncomfortable.
Offer Insights Into Who You Are
It’s important to sell yourself professionally, but also offer insights into who you are that relevant to the job and showcase your strengths, skills, and personality.
For example, if your hobbies are exercising, playing instruments, or helping local charities, these are not relevant to the job itself but can help you to show that you are motivated, creative, helpful, and work well with others, etc.
Another example is showing that you are sociable and friendly, which are always bonuses in any working environment.
These things should not be the entire focus of your interview answers, but are worth mentioning if they help to show who you are, in addition to you being the perfect candidate for the job position.
Prepare In Advance
You will not know the exact questions that you will be asked in any job interview, but you can assume some of the general questions in advance by assessing the job itself and the career.
With this, this can help you to prepare your general answers and what you need to say in the interview.
Even if the questions are not the same as the ones you assumed, there are bound to be questions that are related, as well as questions that will be easier to answer using some of the answers that you prepared in advance.
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to ask questions. This includes questions about the job, as well as asking the interviewer to explain something if you did not quite understand a question.
Asking questions shows curiosity and the initiative to learn and improve. This can increase your chances of getting the job, as well as help you to perform the job better, with a greater understanding of what is required and what you need to do, if you are offered the job.
To conclude, interview answers should be succinct and as short as possible, but contain all the information needed to answer the question to a satisfying degree. Answering in sentences is fine, as long as the information is relevant and not superfluous.
In addition to this, interview answers should sell your strengths and skills, but be communicated in a way that does not come across as overconfident or arrogant. Answers should also be honest to avoid issues down the line.