Sometimes – or more like every time – you go for an interview, your nerves make it hard to concentrate and answer questions to the best of your ability. The important thing to remember is to really listen to the questions being asked. If the interviewer tells you they want a specific example, don’t answer with a general how you would do something – it is a surefire way to ruin your chances for the job.
These types of questions are known as situational questions. If an interviewer were to say to you, “Tell us about your favorite vacation.” You wouldn’t respond by telling them about all the places you would like to go or make a generalization:
“My favorite vacation is to go someplace hot with my family and sit on the beach.”
Instead, you should answer as specifically as possible including all the pertinent details:
“My favorite vacation was two years ago when I went to California with my family. We spent a lot of time on the beach. It was very relaxing.”
The second answer adds credibility. It is obvious that you are providing information from something that actually happened as opposed to making something up just to answer the question.
Potential employers are trying to gauge how you react or perform in specific situations. Common questions that are asked include:
“Tell me about a time you led a team project.” Include what the project was, how many people, and any challenges including how you overcame them.
“Tell me about a conflict you had with a co-worker.” Only pick situations that had a positive outcome.
Employers today want to know how you are going to perform on the job before they even hire you. By answering situational questions specifically you can assure the interviewer you have the skills and thought processes that they are looking for.