Open ended questions don’t need to trip you up when you’re asked them during your job interview. They’re going to be a part of probably every interview you have, so it’s a good idea to get as familiar as possible with them ahead of time so you have well-prepared and thoughtful answers at the ready.

Open ended questions are asked by hiring managers for a few reasons. First, they’re a great way to gauge your personality and your genuine level of interest in the company and role. An open ended question is an evaluation technique to determine if you’re a good fit for the company culture. It’s also a great way for a hiring manager to determine if you have qualifications that are needed for the role.

Most people find open ended questions intimidating because there are no cut and dry answers. There are plenty of different ways you can answer them, but the most important thing to keep in mind is that you’re being honest and sincere. Strong answers that focus on the reasons you’re the best fit for the job will help you make a lasting impression with the hiring manager.

There are many different types of open ended questions. Some are behavior interview related questions that ask you to talk about a time when you were challenged. Others are more situationally related, that ask you to explain how you would handle a hypothetical situation. There are other types of open ended questions that are more anecdotal. These questions are asked so the hiring manager can learn more about you in your own words. You’ll be asked these sorts of questions as a way of evaluating your competency and ability to perform the job for which you’re applying.

Because open ended questions are going to vary based on the interviewer and the job, there’s no one way to best prepare. But there are certain things you can focus on to provide the hiring manager with the best possible response.

Make sure you’re focusing on the job description, skills, and experience needed to be successful in the role. For example, if you’re asked about a time when you were successful in your last role, try to word the answer so it includes the skills needed for the role that you’re interviewing.

Examples are a great way to bridge the gap between what you were doing in the military and what you’re hoping to do as a civilian worker. Explaining a past experience in detail and the actions you took to overcome the challenge will help you provide a robust and detailed answer.

Most importantly, try to be as concise as possible with your answers. You want to add depth where possible, but just make sure you aren’t talking for too long about one particular event. A good interview should feel like an ebb and flow between you and the hiring manager. The most important thing to keep in mind is that all of your answers to open ended questions should be authentic and add value to who you are as a worker.

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