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3 words that will help you answer ANY job interview question


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We’ve all been there:

You’re acing your job interview, regurgitating all the BS that you’ve read on how each question should be answered, and then all of the sudden you are hit with it!  “It” could be a curveball, a question that you’ve never prepared for, or just a question that you know how to answer but for some reason are just blanking on.  No matter what the situation is, or how tough the job interview question is, there are three words that can always save you.

    What are those three words?

    “Just be attractive”?  Nope.  Just ask Miss South Carolina Teen USA.  It didn’t work for her. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about you owe it to yourself to check out this video)

    “Use the bathroom”?  An interesting strategy.  Excuse yourself in mid-questioning, giving additional time to come up with a well thought-out answer.  Although I have never field-tested it, I’m gonna have to say no.

    The three words that you need to know are “tell a story”.  The truth is that if 10 people are asked why the company should hire them, often 8-9 of them will simply recite a list of ideal qualities for the position.  Even a bad story will make for a better answer than that.  Let me give you an example:

    Answer 1: “Well, I’m an extremely hard-worker.  I graduated with honors at Syracuse.  My old boss said that I was the most creative person that she had ever worked with.  And I’m extremely detail-oriented, some even call me a perfectionist.”  Blah, blah, blah.

    Answer 2: “It’s funny that you should ask that.  My boss at my last job started off the interview with the exact same question.  I didn’t really know how to answer since I had just gotten out of college and lacked the experience that the position required.  But he saw something in me and took a chance.  I felt a constant pressure to validate his choice, so I would take online courses at home to teach me the skills that I needed to excel in the position.  My hard work paid off after a couple of years, and I was promoted to an advanced position where I gained even more valuable experience.  But even after my promotion I always continued my efforts to advance my knowledge whenever possible, knowing that one day it would give me the advantage over others in instances like this.”

    It isn’t the best answer ever, but it demonstrates the difference that a story can make.  If you can apply the story to the position or company that you are applying for, even better – but let’s just focus on baby steps for now.

    The bottom line is that a story is much more engaging than a list of qualities.  You have to tell it from the heart though.  While I’m definitely a huge supporter of embellishment, people rarely tell a story with the same passion if it’s one that is completely fabricated.  But if you happen to be a person that can fake this, maybe you should be at an audition in Hollywood instead of a job interview.  Or in law school.

    What’s the toughest job interview question that you have ever been asked?  Please share your story below.


  1. April 29, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Great post.

  1. April 21, 2010 at 7:13 am
  2. April 28, 2010 at 8:04 am

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