0

I always prepare for an interviews and before going to an interview I try to prepare most of the questions that are going to be asked.

It helps me many time but also creates a problem for me. Some time interviewer ask something else in an interview and I just try to relate the answer with my existing prepared answer for the similar question.

I know some people will say you have to listen carefully and then give answer. But for some questions the time to understand motive behind the question and formulates an answer is very little. So, I subconsciously relate my answer with my prepared question.

and when I leave the interview room than just within fraction of seconds I realize that the interviewer was asking for something else.

Any thoughts will be appreciated.

closed as off-topic by gnat, Masked Man, The Wandering Dev Manager, Thalantas, IDrinkandIKnowThings Feb 3 '17 at 18:07

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 6
    Don't waste time trying to work out the motive behind a question. Just focus on the actual question. – Patricia Shanahan Feb 2 '17 at 15:12
  • 4
    Not answering the stated question is not a good message. For one you don't follow directions. – paparazzo Feb 2 '17 at 15:17
  • 4
    I interview people and having someone try and turn my question into a different question is irritating. This is one way to fail interviews. Interviewers have much more respect for "I don't know" than a square peg in a round hole kind of answer. – J Bramble Feb 2 '17 at 17:40
  • I'm not convinced the above answers are true. Do you watch any interview shows on TV (for example CNN's Sunday morning lineup)? Nobody ever answers the question they are asked. People are very used to this and don't see anything strange in it. It's also possible to just misconstrue a question. If you're worried, when you get to the end, say "did that answer your question?" If they say "not, really, what I was looking for was..." then fix it. – Amy Blankenship Feb 2 '17 at 18:05
  • Are you interviewing in a non-native language? I'm wondering if language proficiency is a contributing factor in not grasping what the interviewer is asking. – Lyrl Feb 2 '17 at 18:21
17

You should always try to answer the questions that is being asked, not the question you happen to have a good answer to.

As you have experienced that isn't always easy, since it is often a high stress situation and there is limited time to think. A few strategies can help

  1. It's perfectly okay to say "Great question, let me think about this for a minute"
  2. It's also okay to ask clarification question: "Do you mean conflict between a client and myself or conflict within the team?"
  3. Once you start answering for a bit, do a check in: "is that what you are asking for ?" "is that topic what you had in mind? "is this the type of example that you were looking for ?"
  4. Don't overthink it. Just answer the question honestly to the best of your abilities. No one as the answer to all questions, so drawing a few blanks is okay.
  5. If you don't know anything at all, say so right away, but add how would attack the problem if it came up: "I have no idea how this works, but here is what I would do to find out: ...."

That makes actually life for the interviewer easier too. It's not easy asking good question and it can be frustrating if you need to poke multiple times and from multiple angles to get to the core of the matter.

  • 2
    I do #3 above multiple times in any interview, and on a regular basis at work. #5. It is ok also to state that you don't know something. If someone asks you what the weather is in Orlando, don't give the weather report for Boston just because you know it. State that you can answer the question with a little research. A good recruiter is looking for someone who matches around 80-90% of a job, not 100% because someone at 80% with gumption will learn the rest and be interested. Someone with 100% will not be challenged, bored, and either unproductive or leave soon. – MikeP Feb 2 '17 at 15:25
  • 1
    Great and Thank you for the answers, I read somewhere that be prepared while you go for an interview, take a notepad and pen with you as well. Is it a good idea to note a keyword (one or two on paper) and then build the answer around these keywords to have more clarity in my mind. Does it look nice? – Narinder Chauhan Feb 2 '17 at 15:30
5

I know some people will say you have to listen carefully and then give answer. But for some questions the time to understand motive behind the question and formulates an answer is very little. So, I subconsciously relate my answer with my prepared question.

and when I leave the interview room than just within fraction of seconds I realize that the interviewer was asking for something else.

This indicates that you aren't really listening fully and carefully.

Instead, you are trying to figure out what the interviewer wants to hear, searching through your list of canned answers, and serving up one of those.

That's bad. Good interviewers see right through that, and don't like it.

Instead, skip the part about always trying to bring up one of the answers you worked so hard to memorize. This time, really concentrate on what is actually being asked. Then answer the question honestly.

It's not necessary to have a prepared answer for every question. Sometimes, it's even a liability. Answer truthfully. If that means you don't know the answer then just reply "I don't know" and perhaps relate how you go about finding answers to the inevitable questions that you don't already know.

You'll come across as more "real" and less "canned". That's almost always a good thing. And you won't have the problem where you realize you gave an answer to a question that wasn't actually asked.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.