How To Answer Common Interview Questions Without Sounding Like Everybody Else: #WhatToSay Blog Series Wrap-Up
written by Shea Ki
The good news: Answers to common interview questions are easy to find on the internet because they are so overly used.
The bad news: It's too easy to respond like everyone else and take for granted the power of an original answer.
During this 4 part #WhatToSay blog series, we've covered questions that cause brain freezes, questions that you will never go blank on again, and questions that can be tricky.
Now it is time to wrap up the series with examples of common interview questions that many people answer the same way.
BUT YOU WON'T SOUND LIKE THEM, RIGHT?
If you are reading this blog series, then I have confidence that you are starting the inner work and outer practice to take each interview question as an opportunity to express your fit for the opportunity.
In most interviews, especially for positions in any type of leadership, it is common knowledge that you will get asked about 1) how you manage others 2) what references they can talk to and 3) if you have any questions for them.
It is also widely known that these questions are most often asked towards the middle or end of your interview. Part of you will want to give the easy, automatic answer so you can get out of the hot seat and be done with this process.
There will only be short-term relief and no long-term gain if you answer common interview questions like everybody else.
Let's take a look at three questions that you know to expect in your interview and how to respond in a way that feels authentic to YOU.
During the interview process, you will be asked about your management style. The question might come in different forms such as...
"How would your co-workers and those you supervise describe you?
"Tell us about a time you exercised your leadership?"
"What would your first month look like in this role?"
"How would/do you deal with pressure imposed by the stakeholders involved with your role?"
As with most interview questions, there are a ton of answers you could find online. In this this series focused on #whattosay to interview questions, you have noticed by now I am not here to provide cookie-cutter, over-used answers.
Instead, I advise to take a few minutes to try these ideas below. You then will be more ready to create a response unique to your career journey that stands out from the same-same😴 answers others are saying.
🤓Know your own preference of how to be managed first. Too often people go into new management roles without first recognizing their own needs of what works best for them to feel supported in doing their best work. We can’t speak intelligently about how to serve others best until we take the time to reflect on what types of management have helped us most.
🌟Determine what assessments you find helpful for getting to know your staff’s preferences and WHY they are useful for managing and leading others. Combining any two of these are good places to start:
Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies Quiz
Gallup’s Strengthsfinder 2.0 (For Leadership)
DiSC Profile (For Leaders or Managers)
👍Be aware of your audience. The level of response and picture you paint during the pre-screening or first phases of interviewing with a company need to be different than when meeting in person or online with an executive or CEO.
🙌Share an example of when you have seen inspiring management in action that you aspire to. Go beyond “she/he always made us feel valued” or “everyone liked her/him”. Instead, provide clear specifics about what the beneficial results of how they managed were to the company’s goals and bottom line.
Too often I see interview candidates so relieved to be done with answering questions that they leave before the best part. Asking engaging, meaningful questions is part of your GRAND FINALE!
Yes, you have questions--
but not the usual ones that have been asked often, feel artificial, and don’t help you stand out.
Yes, you have questions--
at least 2-3 but usually not many more than that, as you respect their time.
Yes you have questions--
because you are shopping, too. As much as they are determining that you fit into the role, you equally are evaluating their work culture and expectations.
So what questions do you have for them? Stop googling “good questions to ask at an interview” or you will sound like everybody else.
Instead, take 5 minutes to sit down with the job description, a cup of favorite tea or juice, and your beautiful, clever mind. Allow yourself to visualize you being in this role and going through your day. What do you need to know and be resourced with to be most successful in this role? As questions come to you, write them ALL down. Do this for at least three minutes.
Now, look at your list. Cross out the stuff they’ll tell you like where’s the bathroom or your password to log in. 🤣 Focus in on the questions that will help you gain insight into the role to do your best work. Make sure you can’t find the answers on their website, press releases, or the company’s last annual report. If not, then these are your unique, golden questions to take to the interview.
While the best answer to this question is a confident YES, it's the lack of action one takes afterwards that slip things up. I’ve seen people loose incredible opportunities because one or more of their references missed the call and then got distracted. If your references do not take the time quickly enough to call back the employer, the hiring manager or HR representative will often move on to the next best person.
Your reference sheet will serve you best if it is the same font and format as your resume. Be sure to include the name, current position, phone numbers (preferably 2!) and email of your favorite, professional supporters who you have already ASKED to be a reference.
Don’t share your amazing list of references with just anyone (to protect your privacy and theirs). If they don’t ask you for your references, keep that golden information to yourself. Although, if you have people that have written a recommendation for you on LinkedIn, in many cases it can help you stand out to offer that information. You can create a sheet that is attached to your resume and includes those glowing comments. I only recommend this action if those people who gave you public recommendations have also given you a green light to also be a reference.
And if they do ask for your list of references, be sure to connect one more time with each of your the people on it after your interview to remind them to expect the call.
It will be super helpful to send each of your references your updated resume with the job description of what you are applying for attached to your email of sincere gratitude. Let them know you appreciate them taking time in their busy day to look out for the call and support you. This will remind them of your past working relationship and trigger positivity towards you.
Your turn: What is your tip for others on how to stand out in a positive way when you are asked common interview questions? Share in the comments below! Your voice matters here at Upgrade My Interview so we can all shine in the hot seat.
Most of all, believe in yourself.
Shea Ki is an Interview Skills Coach for spiritually aware women who lead. She offers online sessions for private coaching to share resources that will align your mindset, body language, and energy with your message of professional value.
Subscribe to her monthly tips for shining in the hot seat. Your future at work will thank you.