Ways to Answer Open-Ended Questions

Nancy Anderson
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Open-ended questions during a job interview get you talking about your skills, qualifications and top-level traits. These questions give employers a sense of your personality, work ethic and situational awareness. Read on to learn about how to handle various open-ended queries during an interview to have a better chance for success.

Four Types of Open-Ended Questions

There are four basic types of open-ended questions. First are behavioral questions during which an interviewer asks you about how you worked in the past, such as "Tell me about a time you struggled to meet deadlines. You may hear a situational question where the hiring manager asks about a hypothetical situation to determine how you would respond to a real-world problem at the office. You might run into a competency question that delves into your skill set. You should also be on the lookout for anecdotal questions that deal with your past performance at a specific job.

Examples of Common Questions

1. What Is Your Greatest Strength?

The key to answering these types of open-ended questions lies in a combination of modesty without exaggeration. Mention your greatest strength but temper it with a dose of reality. For example, "My attention to detail comes through my proofreading and copyediting skills on a daily basis as I write and review marketing materials for a busy office. My supervisor even gave me more responsibilities after she recognized my skills." Try to state that someone else can back up your claims.

2. Tell Me About Yourself

This question/statement is one of the most common open-ended questions you hear in a job interview. It builds rapport and gives employers an idea of your skills that relate to your job but aren't necessarily part of your vocation. For instance, "I love to tend to my garden every day as it gives me a chance to grow and nurture flowers while understanding that anything I do now bears fruit in six months." Your gardening skills outline that you understand everyday duties have long-term outcomes at the office.

3. Why Are You a Perfect Fit?

This question gives you a chance to make an elevator pitch. Delve into your specific skills based on the qualifications listed on the job description and talk about the information you found during your research of this position. Employers look for fit above anything else. Provide concrete examples, backed up by data or something your past supervisors can attest to, as a way to stake your claim.

4. What Motivates You?

Employers use this question to gauge your passion for the job and what keeps you coming to work every day. Make sure your answer relates to your job duties, such as your love of seeing smiles on the faces of customers. Keep your answer concise and to the point.

5. What Goals Do You Have for the Future?

Employers love answers about how you want to stick around for several years as you nurture your career. You want to grow as the company grows, so outline something specific to both your professional goals and strategic goals of the employer.

Open-ended questions offer you a chance to have a conversation with your potential employer. Make the most of your face time with these tips for answering questions succinctly.

Photo courtesy of ||Apex|| at Flickr.com


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