Have you ever had a job interview where you sensed that you may not have answered the question the way the interviewer wanted? I’ll never forget one of my first interviews after college. I regaled my interviewers with stories about how I loved to try new things and didn’t like routines. About 10 minutes after my revelation, I learned the job required countless repetitive tasks and every aspect of it was routine.One Word Can Improve Your Interview

Are you surprised to learn that I did not get the job? In that instance, the job was not the right fit for me, but there are other circumstances where you can answer a question many different ways if you know the intent of your interviewer. How do you uncover that intent? You can use one word: “why?”

As long as you don’t ask aggressively or evasively, it can be perfectly reasonable to ask for more detail about a particular question in a job interview. While the word “why” may be a bit too strong, here are several gentle ways to ask “why” during an interview. Pretend that you are asked if you like to travel. Your responses might include:

I’m open to discussing travel. How important is travel to this position?
Can you tell me more about the type of travel you have in mind?

I’m very interested in the position. When you say “travel,” what do you mean?

When you practice gathering more information before you respond to an interview question, you put yourself in a much stronger position to give a good answer. While you don’t want to land a job that’s a poor fit for you, you don’t want to inadvertently talk yourself out of job either. Practice asking gentle clarifying questions in your next interview and you’ll be ready to give your best answers.

Happy job hunting!