How to best answer questions during an interview – Short Version/Long Version Method

We have gone to great lengths to explain how you should answer certain types of interview questions.  We’ve plotted out scenarios and used different situations to illustrate the way in which you should answer these questions . . . and the way in which you should NOT answer these questions.

How to best answer questions during an interview

Well, guess what? We have even more guidance in this area, specifically something called the “Short Version/Long Version Method.”  This method prevents you from answering questions in a complicated and long-winded fashion.

Here’s an example.  Suppose you’re interviewing for an engineering manager position, and the interviewer asks you, “What sort of engineering experience have you had in the past?”  Well, that’s exactly the sort of question that can get you into trouble if you don’t use the short version/long version method.

That’s because most people would just start rattling off everything in their memory that pertains to their experience.  Though the information might be useful to the interviewer, rattling off everything is not the way to go.

Here’s one way you might answer the question instead:

“I’ve held engineering positions with three different companies over a 10-year period.  Where would you like me to start?”

Or you might answer it this way:

“Let me give you the short version first, and then you can tell me where you want me to go into more depth.  I’ve had nine years of experience with three different companies, and I’ve held the title of engineer, senior engineer, and engineering manager.  What aspect of my background would you like to concentrate on?”

By using the short version/long version method, you show that your thoughts are organized and that you understand the intent of the question before you travel too far in a direction neither of you wants to go.

Use this as your compass:

Try to ascertain the needs of the company and address them by showing your expertise in those areas, not whatever happens to pop into your mind.

In our next blog post, it will be YOUR turn to ask some questions—finally.

(For more information about successfully preparing for YOUR next interview, download a copy of Dan Simmons’s e-Book, Put Your Best You Forward: Simple Steps to a Successful Interview.)

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