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Before any job interview, you should know exactly why you want to work for the company and why your experience makes you a perfect fit for the role. You should also know how to answer interview questions in the most effective manner.

Believe it or not, your communication style and how you present information is just as important as the information itself.

Your interview is not an interrogation. It should feel like a conversation. Offer specific stories and examples whenever you can, even if the interviewer doesn’t explicitly ask for them. Doing so shows that you understand what the interviewer is asking and creates a great opportunity to highlight key aspects of your work history.

For example, let’s say you’re asked, “How do you handle stress?” You could respond with, “Very well. I thrive on it as long as I can manage it. The quality of my work seems to be elevated by stress because I think it pushes me to my limits.”

That’s a fine answer – but consider what would happen if you added the following: “Once, I had three projects due the same day. One of the projects was very delayed because of another department. I stayed up all night to do the research they were supposed to do and created graphics on their behalf. In the end, those were the best graphics I’ve ever created.”

If you answer with an example, your interviewer will have a deeper understanding of how you actually handle stress and gain insight into your level of commitment.

You’ll sometimes be asked behavior-based questions related to how you’ve handled specific situations in the past. Such questions require a very clear, three-part answer:

  1. Set the scene by giving one or two sentences on the background of the situation.
  2. Clearly and concisely define the obstacle you had to overcome and the action you took to remedy the situation. Again, one or two sentences.
  3. One sentence on the outcome or results of your actions that shows you as the hero.

Keep in mind, the interviewer doesn’t need every little detail. The CliffsNotes version, including the most essential elements, is all the interviewer needs to fully understand the situation and how you came out on top!

Don’t forget to practice your communication before an interview! Being in control of what you say and how you say it will go a long way toward making a lasting impression.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.

Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.



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