At the pace of today’s communication, we probably couldn’t survive without shortcuts in the way…
John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC
Few things are harder than pulling yourself out of the hole you just dug with the answer you gave to the interviewer’s question. It was a fair question. It was a question you could have anticipated. In delivering your answer, though, you explained, and explained, and explained. And the rest of the interview can’t help but go downhill.
Inoculating yourself against foot-in-mouth disease is mostly a matter of preparing. But it’s not merely about short answers; it’s about knowing when a longer answer might actually be the right approach.
Questions from an interviewer about your skills, experience and/or leadership competencies are opportunities for you to shine. These questions literally cry out for longer answers in order to make your case more fully. Don’t rely only on a bullet-point recitation of skills, for example, but be prepared to elaborate with examples of where and how those skills have come into play. Is there something you’ve done that helped find an answer to a particular problem in an engagement? Was there something you did that materially improved efficiency or productivity in your practice?
On the other hand, questions about weaknesses, personal beliefs and past decisions – including reasons why you left previous jobs – are like invitations to walk through a cow pasture. The further you go, the stronger the likelihood that you’ll put your foot right in it. If you have any interviewing experience at all, you know the questions to expect. (And if you don’t, Google “tough interview questions.”) Plan your answers to these questions. Make them short, simple and to the point. If you can, include a brief comment about something you learned in the experience. Making mistakes is common. Showing that you have learned from them makes you stand out.
Nobody likes the taste of shoe leather. You can avoid it with the right interview preparation.