Interviews aren't easy. Trying to make a good impression in a condensed period of time while under pressure makes us all nervous. That's why preparing for interviews is so vital. Now, more than ever, hiring managers have very high expectations of applicants.

Smart people talk in simple terms.

Studies show people who try to sound important and smart by using long, complex words actually sound less educated and are less respected. The more basic and simply you can speak, the more believable you are. This makes sense. If you have to over-complicate things with a long-winded answer, it can give the impression you are:

None of these are things we wish to convey in a job interview. The solution is to master a three-step process for answering interview questions.

The "experience + learn = grow" model.

Most hiring managers use behavioral questions in interviews. These types of questions require a more-than-one-word answer. The key is to answer with just enough detail, but without going over-the-top. At Work It Daily, we teach job seekers the following format for answering any question concisely.

Experience -- Summarize a situation from your past that validates you have the experience they're looking for.

Learn -- Share what the experience taught you.

Grow -- Emphasize how you plan to use what you've learned to be more valuable to the employer.

For example, if a hiring manager asks, "Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer," you might answer:

Experience
"Once, an irate customer called our toll-free line and I answered it. The person had received damaged goods in the mail and was furious. I let him vent his frustration without interruption. When he finally finished, I thanked him for his honesty and apologized for the inconvenience. It was amazing how much his attitude changed when I didn't try to make excuses. I asked him what he thought would be the best course of action and he suggested having a replacement sent overnight at our expense. I agreed and set it up. By the time we were done, he was complimenting the company on what great customer service we had."

Learn
"What I learned that day is angry customers want to be heard, and focusing on the solution instead of what went wrong is the key to success."

Grow
"Now, I'd like to use this knowledge, along with some of the other valuable customer-service lessons I gained at my last job to help exceed your customers' expectations as well."

See how easy it is to concisely convey your expertise when you follow this format?

P.S. -- Asking questions is as important as answering them.

The best interviews are a two-way dialog. You should leave feeling like you had a meaningful conversation with the hiring manager. To do this, job seekers must also prepare questions to ask in the interview. Knowing how to sound well-spoken is only half of the equation. You also need to know how to appear engaged and excited about the role. The questions you ask can help you connect more deeply with the hiring manager and leave a stronger impression.

Published on: Mar 16, 2018