Doing well in a job interview is the result of many things, ranging from the first impressions you make with your physical appearance (body language) to how well you communicate and respond to questions. There are the predictable questions, such as “What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?” and then there are the offbeat questions that may make your nerves rattle and leave you dazed as to how to respond diplomatically and professionally.
The fact is there isn’t going to be a correct answer to offbeat questions, only correct responses. Such questions are usually asked to help the employer understand how well you handle tough situations and how you think through solutions. Are you one to get rattled and breakdown in communication when stumped with an odd question or do you stay calm, cool and collected, maintaining confidence and a positive attitude?
There’s no real way to prepare for the oddball questions because they are “offbeat,” but what you can do is ensure your communication and responses to such questions leave a positive message that helps the employer develop the best possible impression of you.
Here are a few tips to help you maintain positive communication and composure during job interviews regardless of what questions are asked:
- Think positive and keep your tone and responses positive. Your mission is to make yourself desirable to the employer based on your experience, talent and skills. If you focus on what you have to offer and express confidence and a positive tone, the employer will develop a much better impression in your favor than if you touch on negative points that may make you less favorable of a candidate. Even when questions are asked about your weaknesses, your mission is to address the question directly and immediately turn it to a more positive note such as how you would work through the problem and address it.
- Don’t restate the negative. Just because an employer positions a question a specific way that may connote the negative, do not follow that lead in your response. For instance, avoid stating “My greatest weakness is….” Instead, respond by jumping right into what you have done to address the issue and how it has helped you succeed. This approach helps you avoid jumping around the question but puts the focus of the key message on an area that is an advantage for you.
- Turn to your creative side and humor. Not all questions in an interview require a serious response. Offbeat questions are often times asked by employers to test your creativity and humor. Demonstrate your ability to think on your feet. Also find ways in which you can relate it back to the job. The important thing is to not let these types of questions stump you, and the best way to do that is to take in the question with a bit of humor and respond in the same manner.
- Never say, “I don’t know.” Such a response implies to an employer that you are unprepared and give up easily to challenges, which isn’t the ideal impression you want to make. Take a moment to process the question and analyze how you can respond back in a way to further express your character while possibly tying it back to your capabilities for the job. In such situations, it may also help to think out loud. Such an approach helps you walk the employer through your thinking process rather than have dead silence in the air for too long.
The key to doing well in a job interview as it relates to communication and your response to questions is to remain poised and self-assured. While the question may appear to be an approach by the employer to knock you off your feet, remain positive and calm in your response. Also, always give a response that ties back to how you are the most fit for the job.