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You  get a lot of questions fired at you at work; by critical customers and colleagues, in presentations, appraisal interviews, meetings or application rounds. There are questions you don’t see coming and they might make you feel like you are losing control. Obviously you can’t prepare for every question in every context, but you can learn to always appear competent and give a smooth answer no matter the question. The key is improvisation; be able to think quickly and switch in the moment to prevent a blackout.

These techniques will help you with that:

1. Always give yourself enough time
We tend to answer a question directly, for example because we are afraid that a silence will be experienced as doubt. As a result, we get stuck in the loop and end up in the ‘ehhm’s’. The answer you give impulsively is often not the best answer. Therefore, give yourself a little break; a few seconds for your brain to process information and find the right words. The silence that falls is usually interpreted as a thoughtful moment. Repeat the question carefully to give yourself more time to think.

2. Receive better questions
Questions come in many forms. You will not always get a short, specific and clear variant. Sometimes a question is long and vague and you don’t know exactly what kind of answer the questioner expects from you. In this case, don’t make the mistake of guessing what the questioner wants. Instead, receive a clearer question; when you receive a clear question it is easier for you to answer the question. Have them repeat the question, ask for clarification, or first give your own interpretation of the question in a way that better matches the answer you want to give. Incidentally, questioners often like to reformulate their question, because they sometimes need more time to formulate their sentences.

3. Shift the focus
Sometimes you get a question that you cannot or would rather not answer. For example, a question that is off-topic, an inappropriate question or one that you simply don’t know the answer to. In this case it is always better to be honest than to make something up. However, this does not mean that you always have to answer with ‘I don’t know’. You can still appear competent by shifting the focus of a question.

In case of a question that consists of several questions; focus on a part of the question that you are willing and able to answer. When your answer is strong and complete, a questioner will rarely go back to the other points of his question.

For a question that is actually not a question; a questioner does not expect a direct answer to his question, but wants to discuss the subject, hear a different side of the story or check whether you have also thought about his question. In such a moment, give acknowledgment or, for example, a question in return to the questioner or the rest of the audience.

Practicing these techniques will increase your ability to improvise in the moment and keep you in control in any situation. Also know that an inquirer does not have the intention to make you fail; especially critical questions arise from genuine interest.

Good luck!

Any questions? Call Jobtraining: 0204230603 or email us.