How to Answer Open-Ended Interview Questionsposted by Anna Mar, February 05, 2013
How do you feel about the universe?
Open ended interview questions are designed to give you the floor. They are intended to get you talking freely. They help to break the ice.
Open ended questions are your chance to take an interview in the right direction. To sell yourself.
Open ended questions give you a great deal of flexibility. They have a wide universe of possible answers.
It's this wide range of possibilities that throws some candidates off.
Answers to open questions often wander without direction — leaving the interviewer wondering "so what?".
The following three guidelines are designed to improve your answers to open ended questions. They are based on time-tested public speaking techniques.
1. Answer Why Before WhatMost candidates answer open ended questions with what-answers.
What-answers are like dictionary definitions, they are factual but throughly uninspiring.
Why-answers are emotional. They explain the philosophical aspects of things. They explain why you are the compelling candidate.
Why-answers have the potential to inspire. To make the statement that you're interested in more than your paycheck — that you are fully engaged.
2. Have a PointThe worst thing you can do is make 18 unrelated points, leaving the interviewers confused.
Give your answers a point. Prove your point. State your point in three different ways to drive it home.
3. Set Up For the Next QuestionInterviewers almost always ask a follow up question after an open ended question. They will base their follow up on your answer.
Avoid pointing the interviewer to follow up questions you can't answer.
If you don't know anything about risk management it's probably not a good idea to mention it 3 times in your answer to an open ended question.
This article is part of the ongoing series of posts called how to win your next job
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