When I was in primary school, I asked my dad what he did for work. To make it simple for me, he said, “I’m a civil engineer, which means I design roads.” And even though there’s much more to what he does on a daily basis, that basic description made it crystal clear to me.
Maybe your job is not this easy to explain, and that can make answering interview questions by hiring managers overly complicated. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when they tell people about what they do for a living – and what to say instead.
- You say it just can’t be explained
Trust me, I know what it’s like to get into the weeds of trying to put your job description into layman’s terms. Let’s say your current job involves compiling complex reports on the frequency with which people replace leather belts. You think it’s interesting and you know it qualifies you to do the job you’re interviewing for, but with all the nuts and bolts that go into your current role it’s tempting to just say “I mean, it’s so in-depth, I think we’d both be better off if I didn’t get too deep into the day-to-day.” But think about this from the employer’s point of view. Would you want to hire someone who appeared unwilling to talk about his or her current job? Probably not.
What to say instead
It’s OK to poke fun at some of the finer details of what you do, especially if you think your interviewer would get a kick out of hearing the stranger details of analysing belt-buying habits, but, don’t skip the question. Try using this formula instead:
My day-to-day involves [something broad about what you do], which has a big impact on how [a team you work with] approaches [something that team is responsible for].
So, if we go back to our belt-buying analyst, a good answer might look like this: “My day-to-day involves looking at buying data, which has a big impact on how our sales team approaches conversations with potential clients.”
- You use too much jargon
On the flipside, it’s also easy for our belt-buying analyst to use a lot of jargon when describing her job to a potential employer. Imagine how overwhelming it would be if someone you were interviewing went on a tangent about the pivot tables that came out of your quarterly belt scrum session, which led you to believe that the buying delta of belt wearers in a specific area was much lower than it was the previous quarter. Confusing, right?
What to say instead
Again, be prepared with a response that clearly articulates what you do without completely confusing the interviewer. In the event that you do want to use some specific examples or go into a certain detail in more depth, be prepared to walk the hiring manager through what you’re talking about. So, in the case of the belt-buying analyst, it might look something like this:
“I’m responsible for helping our sales department understand how frequently buyers tend to replace their belts, so this year I led an initiative for monthly scrum meetings, in which we take some initial data that I’ve found and come up with some actionable next steps for our teams.”
You’ll notice that while this answer gets a little technical, it’s still straightforward enough for an interviewer to understand. And even better, it’s the perfect primer for further conversations with that person.
- You get annoyed about being asked multiple times
It’s human nature during an interview to think, “Ugh, how many times do I have to explain that I analyse belt-buying habits? And can we move on to why I’d make a great marketing analyst?” But, when there’s a job on the line, it’s important not to get annoyed at this question. Remember: your job’s not as easy to understand for an outsider, and the hiring manager has to know you’re qualified to join the team.
Source: The Muse