Feeding back the question in your answer

One of the approaches we recommend in interview training involves encouraging the candidate to feed back the very language they hear in the question.

So if the interviewer says: “We are looking for someone with excellent IT skills for this role, someone who can work their way around IT problems as they arise. How would you describe yourself in that regard?”

Presuming that the candidate has got excellent IT skills (because it’s just not good to get a job on false pretences), we propose kicking off the answer along these lines: “In that regard, I would describe myself as having excellent IT skills” “or in that regard, I would describe my IT skills as being very strong.”

Why do we recommend this approach? Here’s why:

  • It keeps you (the candidate) focused on the questions – forces you to stay ‘true’ to the question, rather than embarking on a journey to answer a question that hasn’t actually been asked;
  • The value of staying ‘true’ to the question may be felt later on in the answer. Candidates often find themselves forgetting the question. They have gone off down some roads to show examples of what they have been asked about – only to eventually ‘meet themselves coming back’, as the saying goes. Candidates forget the question much more often than you may think. By feeding back the language of the question, you keep the question to the fore in your answer;
  • It gives you a starting-point in an answer. It is very important to always answer the question you are asked – from there you can go on to outline your examples. Answering the question directly, feeding back the language, helps to navigate the interviewer around the answer, rather than going directly to examples, which can sometimes confuse due to an excess of detail and ‘story’;
  • It buys you time, particularly if the question is a little tricky. By getting into the habit of feeding back the question, you will be able to use that portion to the answer to weigh up your options for the remainder of the answer. It beats a long silence, and, once you get into the habit, you will find it quite easy to buy time in this way;
  • It builds rapport with the interviewer. Put yourself in the interviewer’s position for a moment. She has asked a question. Ergo, she wants an answer. Ideally, she wants an answer that deals directly with her question. Feeding back the very language you have used leaves her in no doubt but that her question is being dealt with at the very outset of the answer. Thus, the interviewer is happy – and a happy interviewer is officially A Good Thing for a candidate.

It’s a small tip, but it can steady the nerves. Point 3 above is one of the key benefits – the starting-point for the answer.

Of course, you must avoid being a parrot because to feed the language back in a very formal, staged way could annoy the interviewer. But smooth absorption of this technique can serve candidates well in their idates should absorb into their overall interview performance, for the want of a better word.

For your free e-book on interview & CV tips, email GetThatJob@SliNuaCareers.com. Contact Sli Nua Careers – 094 95 42965.