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Thread: Answering interview questions: KISS principle

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Answering interview questions: KISS principle

    I am very verbose when I talk, write, etc. However, I have a much different interviewspeak which is much more concise. Some of these answers seem almost too simple.

    Are you computer proficient? Yes.

    Describe a situation when you lost it on the job-when you failed to remain objective or to behave professionally? I am always professional.

    Do you get along with your coworkers? Yes.

    Are these answers acceptable? I don't want to reveal the whole kimono. I am assuming if they want to know more, they will rephrase the question after my short response.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    You definitely want to be concise, but there's a fine line between concise and coming off as curt or aloof. My policy is to always respond with a simple statement followed by a short example or elaboration.

    Are you computer proficient? Yes. Naturally, I'm familiar with all Microsoft Office products and other general workplace programs. In addition, I am comfortable working with ArcGIS, AutoCAD, Adobe products including the creative suite and InDesign, and Oracle.

    Describe a situation when you lost it on the job-when you failed to remain objective or to behave professionally? While I pride myself in maintaining professionalism, I will readily admit I made some rookie mistakes early in my career... <example>...

    EVERYBODY has lost objectivity or stepped-out out of a professional mindset at an inappropriate time at some point. If you don't have an example of lost professionalism, shift to another weakness. The interviewer doesn't necessarily care about your literal answer; he/she wants to know if you can acknowledge and learn from mistakes as well as gauge interpersonal skills.

    Do you get along with your coworkers? Yes. While I maintain professionalism in my work relationships, I have found taking some interest in one another's personal lives helps build a sense of team and comradery. In addition, my portfolio reflects my ability to work successfully in professional teams, resulting in award-winning projects like <insert example of a project with some kind of quantifiable success>.

    I see what you mean by not wanting to show the whole deck of cards, but you also don't want to force them to ask follow-up questions. You want to give an impression that you are forthright and not hiding anything, while still keeping your answers concise.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cloverhill's avatar
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    Short answer...

    I conduct interviews of planners at my office and I had a couple of thoughts for you:

    The interviewer isn't there to trick you or con you into saying something you don't want to say (or should not be, in my opinion). The interview questions are designed to get you talking about yourself so that we can see if you are a good fit for the job. If you answer the way you propose, are you furthering that process or hindering it? As the interviewer, I'll let you answer the questions that way and probably hire someone else.

    I am not going to pry answers out of you. I don't have the time or inclination to do that. The only way I pose follow-up questions is if you bring something interesting to the interview.

    Besides being a good fit for the job, I must find out if you are a good fit for the office. Good chemistry in the office creates positive results. Bad chemistry screws stuff up. If I don't get a good handle on you the person, I'll go with someone I feel stronger about.

    Advice: Relax. Try to make it a two-way conversation. Don't worry so much about coming off as ultra smart or sophisticated. Sincerely answer the questions. I have a question where I ask what you would do if you couldn't be a planner and one guy said he'd be a truck driver. We had a cool conversation about that and he got hired.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Excellent advice Clover, I have always done better in interviews were I had a conversation with the interviewer. IMO, if you make to an interview you already have the skill set they are looking for. The point of an interview is to see if you have chemistry with the organization. Giving short answers makes it difficult for an interviewer to guess a person's personality. It could also come off as being aloof or not really caring about the position.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
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    I would agree with the above and add that answers that are to short require the interviewer to run the interview. I personally prefer if the interviewer provides the general topic and the interviewee really dictates where the interview goes.

    As a side note, it may be important to note that I'm not in charge of this process. This is my opinion from the interviewee standpoint. I also like to see how the interviewer responds to the idea of allowing a flexible interview process where every interview is not the same exact 15 questions and then out. I feel that, generally speaking, an organization willing to allow this type of interview probably has a work environment more in tune with my preferences.
    Much work remains to be done before we can announce our total failure to make any progress.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    I read somewhere that there is a formula for giving good interview questions. I don't remember the whole thing, but you basically need to give a solid example as part of your answer. An answer of "Yes" doesn't give the interviewer any substance upon which to judge for themselves the merits of your assertion. I mean, only an idiot would say "No" to a question like "Do you get along well with your coworkers?" So just saying "Yes" is essentially meaningless. They need something upon which to form their own (hopefully positive) opinions of you, and that requires you to give them more to go on than your own personal opinion that "Yes, I'm good at that".

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