This question came into our Ask A Coach feature. The writer told this story.
I really wanted this job. The pay range was awesome. The benefits outstanding. I walked in and gave the interviewer my best smile.
He asked, “So tell me what tells you that you’d be a good fit for our company?”
I didn’t know what to say. The question stumped me. I wanted to say that I was a great candidate for any job, to wow him with my list of skills and accomplishments. But even as I started into my answer, I saw his eyes glaze over.
I was prepared with answers for the interview questions I expected—what made me a great candidate; my past experiences; my strengths and weaknesses; my qualifications based on the stated job requirements.
What do I do when I’m caught off-guard by a question like this? I did my best, giving him information that related to his question. How could I have recovered?
That’s not good enough. You didn’t answer the question he asked. Instead, you answered the question you wanted him to ask. This strategy occasionally works for politicians, but not for applicants.
Here’s the truth. The interviewer threw a softball question. You needed have your answer ready. When you didn’t answer his question, you struck out. Game over.
What you can do differently, next time
Despite how hungry many employers are to fill vacancies, they want new employees who want to work for their, not applicants who want “any” job for they’re qualified and that pays enough.
Here’s what you need to do before your next interview—in addition to thinking about who you are; what your experience and skills are, and what you want in a job, assess the potential job and employer. What tells you you’re right for their position and for them?
You can learn this by reviewing their website and setting up a Google alert for their company.
Recovering when you’re stumped in an interview or realize you gave an inadequate answer.
When you’re asked a question that stumps you, pause and take a breath. Because the question throws you off balance, you need to pull out of your immediate reaction and assess what you might say. This two-second pause won’t seem unrealistic. If you want to cover it, you can say, “That’s a great question. I haven’t been asked that before.”
If, several questions and answers later, you realize what you should have answered to an earlier question, you can ask, “Can we go back to that earlier? I left something important out of my answer.” Most interviewers will nod and appreciate that you want to do a good job.
If you’re given that chance, please knock it out of the park with your answer.
(c) 2022 Lynne Curry
If you liked this article, you might like some of the other articles in our blog’s “Career” section such as “How to Nail Three Challenging Job Interview Questions” https://workplacecoachblog.com/2019/11/how-to-nail-three-challenging-job-interview-questions/ or in Solutions: 411: Workplace Answers 911: Revelations for Workplace Challenges and Firefights, https://amzn.to/3ueSeXX which has 65 of my best columns in a twenty year period.
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