Students and interviewees alike have asked me often why interviewers ask questions like “What animal are you most like and why?” or “Tell us what your favorite color is and why.” As one of my students put it best, these kinds of questions stir up conversation, and help determine whether you have the ability to think on your feet.
Carrying on a conversation is a lost artform to many, and something we all can improve on. By turning your interview into more of a conversation, you can help yourself become a little more immune to the nerves and jitters that inevitably come.
Some suggestions for turning the interview into a conversation:
As the interviewee
1. Ask good questions during and at the end of the interview like “Julie, I heard you mention you’ve been working here for 8 years. Tell me about what has kept you here and what you enjoy most about your work.”
2. If you are unsure how to answer a question, be honest. Don’t be silent for too long, and make sure if you don’t know how to answer a question, do a polite stall like “I haven’t been asked that question in a while, but it’s definitely something that’s been on my mind.” This builds a little more trust and comfort.
As the interviewer
1. Consider conducting the interview outside your location (like a coffee shop, hotel lobby, outside to make the interview more relaxed for both you and the applicant.
2. Turn the focus away from canned questions and bring up questions like the “animal” one above to have someone answer questions you may not even have asked yet.