You need to stop using fluffy language when answering job interview questions


A good interview question will usually ask you to recall a time when you did (or didn’t do) something. It might look like this: “Could you tell me about a time when you received difficult feedback at work? »

Now, not all interviewers ask good interview questions. For example, in the report “6 Words That Ruin Behavioral Interview Questionswe learned that less than 20% of hiring managers could correctly identify major issues with their interview questions.

But assuming you have an interview with a well-trained hiring manager, you can expect to be asked questions beginning with the words “Could you tell me about a time when…” or ” Tell me about a time when….”

How can you effectively answer this type of question? Simply put, use lots of specific details and avoid fluffy language.

In the Leadership IQ study, The words that cost you the interviewlow-scoring candidates used 40% more adverbs in their responses (for example, very, really, quickly) than the highest-scoring candidates. And low-scoring candidates used 103% more absolute language (for example, words like always, never, definitely) than their highly rated peers.

Here are some examples of low-scoring candidates’ responses to the question, “Could you talk about a time when you received difficult feedback at work?”

  • “I can honestly say that I’ve never really received any harsh comments. But I don’t think harsh comments are always a negative thing. In fact, responding well to difficult comments can show that you’re working hard and trying to achieve success. But, my personal record of getting tough feedback is pretty clean.
  • “There are people who think they are always right and who give you harsh comments even though they don’t really understand the problem. It can be frustrating to do truly superior work and still be criticized. That’s why I always make sure I fully understand a situation before giving my opinion to anyone.

Notice how these answers don’t offer any details? A well-trained interviewer can quickly see through fuzzy responses like “I can honestly say that I’ve never really received difficult feedback” and “I always make sure I fully understand a situation before giving feedback to anyone. it would be.”

These kinds of vague and non-specific answers say a few things to a seasoned interviewer. First, the candidate may be lying. Have you ever met someone who honestly never received harsh feedback at work? Of course not.

Second, the candidate may think their clichéd answers sound deep and thoughtful enough to impress a hiring manager. That’s a disturbing level of arrogance. Third, it may be a candidate who is totally lacking in self-awareness and really hasn’t heard or internalized any harsh comments.

The underlying causes of these fuzzy responses don’t really matter; what is important is that a competent hiring manager will not react well to these types of responses. A candidate who wants to impress a hiring manager will demonstrate a grasp of the details of their professional background and candidly share details.

This does not mean that a candidate should be complacent about their failures. Share details about any tough feedback you received (or whatever the question asks), then immediately share details about what you learned, how you grew, what milestones you took next, etc. the candidate is honest and self-aware.


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