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6 ways your interview answers make you sound boring

Here are six ways your interview answers make you sound boring – and what to say instead.

Most people fear "going blank" in an interview but saying too much can be just as bad. Lose the interest of an interviewer and you're likely to lose the job. Here are six ways your interview answers make you sound boring – and what to say instead.

1. You use clichés

The interviewer asks, "What's your biggest weakness?" and you say, "I'm a perfectionist."

'Nothing is more likely to send an interviewer's eyeballs rolling to the back of their head,' says career coach Sam Waterfall of www.obviouscandidate.com and author of The Essential Guide To Interview Success.

So how can you answer the question better?

'The key is to give a genuine answer, but to avoid naming a weakness in a skill that is central to the job,' says Sam.

'For example, your high standards make it hard for you to delegate. You realised this was restricting the amount of work you could get done, so you made a change.'

Sam continues: 'Maybe you enrolled on a course or spoke to a great delegator and quizzed them on how they do it. You applied your learning and achieved great results. While you still find it hard to let go, you're now a very good delegator and that lets you get far more done.'

2. Your answers are too rehearsed

Cliché interview answers aren't the only problem, according to Anna Budner, Talent Acquisition Team Leader at NonStop Recruitment.

'All too often, a candidate will trot out a standard response or repeat something they've clearly memorised. A skilled interviewer will make the candidate think about their answers and get to know them inside-out.'

Repeating information as it appears on your CV makes you sound dull and predictable, so be prepared to think on your feet, rather than stick to the rehearsed script.

The interviewer is looking for context, so be ready to offer further insight into any claims you make on your CV – and ensure that your stories are concise and interesting.

3. You cover too much information

When asked, "So, tell me about yourself," most people say too much.

'Think about this from the point of view of the interviewer. Do they want to know everything you've ever done? Of course they don't. What they are looking for is a few key points which are relevant to the job, from which they can delve deeper,' says Sam.

'Saying: "Well I attended Junior School in West London…" will fill the interviewer with horror, as they fear you'll be dragging them through everything you've done since Mrs Johnson's class at the age of nine.'

Sam's advice is to put the interviewer at ease by saying: "Let me give you the short version. Then you can ask me about anything you'd like to know more about." Then tell them that you'll make three points that will introduce yourself. "First I'll tell you about my academic background, then about my career so far, and finally, a bit about me outside of work."

'Give them no more than a minute on each of those topics. That's long enough to slip in the highlights of your MBA, PhD, your career progression from graduate role to current day, plus your marathon running and family life,' says Sam.

4. You don't give any context to your answers

While you know the background to your stories and why they are appropriate, the interviewer doesn't.

'A concise statement of the context not only brings them up to speed, it gives you an opportunity to spell out why your forthcoming answer is so good,' says Sam.

'For example, the interviewer asks: "Can you tell me about a time when you led a team to an outstanding result despite challenging circumstances?"

'Don't launch into… "I was team leader and had to get the whole team together to brief them, which was challenging because they were in different offices in different countries."

'Instead, take the opportunity to say… "It was 2009, and we were in the depths of the financial crisis. The company had laid off 800 people and everyone was worried about their jobs. On top of that, our division was 20% down on our sales budget and I'd been asked to bring the year in on target. This is how I did that - and led a 5% sales growth and secured the ongoing employment of my team."

'Can you see how starting with clear context sets up a more interesting story and helps get the interviewer in tune with the scenario?'

5. You don't say what you can do for them

The interviewer wants you to impress them with your brilliance – but they also want to know what you can do for them.

Sam explains: 'Your answers should show how you can solve the company's problems. If you are describing your social media skills, finish by saying: "I appreciate you're likely to have a limited marketing budget as a small company, and feel confident that my skills and past achievements with social media campaigns could make a real difference to you.'

6. You drone on…

Nothing is more boring than a candidate who drones on, so keep to the two-minute rule.

'Never speak for more than two minutes without giving the interviewer a chance to comment, reply, or join in. An interview is a conversation with a purpose. Not a chance for you to deliver a personally focused monologue,' warns Sam.

'The more you can get the interviewer talking, the better. That lets you listen, gives you thinking time and helps you to find out precisely what they want from your answers.

'Practise being concise and ask "checking questions" (e.g. Does that answer your question?) or just stop talking.

'Don't be afraid of silence in your interview. If they want to know more, they'll ask you another question,' adds Sam.

Keep these tips in mind and your interview is likely to be remembered for the right reasons!