Swyg is here to help.
The internet is inundated with tips, tricks, and hacks about how to nail your next interview. However, candidates can rarely find a simple guide to help you navigate the interview process. And we all know just how complicated, confusing and one-sided that process can be.
This article aims at providing you with some practical insights that you can leverage in your next interview.
What does a good answer look like?
Interviews (at least the good ones) are designed to measure a combination of skills, experience, and fit for the organization (also known as job fit and culture fit). Therefore, the questions you face will probe you on one or a few of these qualities. The Swyg platform does things a little differently, however we still believe that what follows here will still be super useful in any interview.
If we could give you one piece of advice to help you get better at interviewing: Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer and try to understand what they need.
For example, more and more companies are using structured interviews (read more about why science supports structured interviews here). What that means is that candidates are asked predetermined questions and are scored on specific skills or competencies. That means that an interviewer is probably looking for specific elements in a good answer - it will help you a lot to try to understand what those elements are.
Usually, questions probe both knowledge about a certain topic (WHAT), and ability (HOW). The “How” can be related to your experience (how did you), or your potential (how would you). Either way, the STARR methodology (Situation, Task, Action, Result, Reflection) is a good way to reveal your expertise. Avoid words such as “in general” or “in my opinion” as the goal is to provide a specific example that clearly positions you as the expert.
If you are struggling with the question, the best option is to admit this instead of trying to come up with something in the spur of the moment.
A good answer to the question “Give me an example of a technical issue you resolved recently?” is:
- SITUATION - This is where you set the stage: “Due to a mandatory upgrade of our system, one of my clients lost access to their account.”
- TASK - Explain the problem “It was my job to keep the client happy while restoring their access ASAP.”
- ACTION - What you did: “First, I flagged the concern immediately to our support team. Next, …Finally I ensured the client was kept in the loop at all times and monitored the updates in the next 12h.”
- RESULT - A tangible outcome: “In the end, the client was so happy with my efforts that they even sent a nice email to my manager to let kim know.”
- REFLECTION - “What I have learned from this experience is that it is critical to ensure the proper documentation of first-time issues like this.”
Ok, now that you know what a good answer looks like. How can you train yourself to give good answers?
Knowing what a good answer looks like is only half the battle, you also need to be able to respond on the spot. We understand this process can be more challenging when you are in the beginning of your career or you are “rusty” if you haven’t interviewed in a while.
- Think about challenging questions such as "The biggest mistake you've made in a project" or "Tell me about a time you missed a target".
- As a candidate, you can prepare STARR answers in advance and relate them to important experiences in your previous roles. Try to think about what an interviewer is looking for.
- It’s even helpful to practice these out loud (by yourself or with a friend). Try to imagine what the questions will be. You can even record yourself answering and reflect on your tone of voice, structure and accuracy.
- Make the most of Feedback - Getting feedback can be rare but understanding what you do well and what you need to improve on, is imperative. This is why we provide every participant in the Swyg Interview Practice platform with feedback based on clear criteria like accuracy, communication style and completeness of your answers.
The best way to practice is with another person, just like you. It’s often the follow up questions that make interviews hard. We created the Swyg Interview Platform to help you train with real partners.
Take the time to practice and you will see your interview success rate go up in no time!
- Summarize & focus on the most important areas - time is always limited - be succinct and to the point.
- Honesty is the best policy - of course people want to emphasise the good stuff. But being vulnerable and open about mistakes, challenges or your learning experiences is more appreciated than self inflation.
- It is normal to be nervous! Allow pauses, even if it is awkward at first, embrace humour, ask for a moment to think or if the interviewer could elaborate on their question.
Practice makes perfect - and we are here to help you!