How to Handle Questions & Answers – presentation skills

How to Handle Questions & Answers – presentation skills.

How to Handle That Dreaded Question & Answer Period





Lenny Laskowski


© 1998 LJL Seminars


http://www.ljlseminars.comMany presentations today are followed up with a question and answer period. To some people this can be the most exciting part of the presentation. To others it can be their worst nightmare. In fact, there are some presenters who purposely avoid the question and answer period all together. Below I have provided a 5 step approach to handling questions along with some additional tips to make your next question and answer session go smoother.


    1. Listen to the entire question
    2. Listen to the entire question BEFORE you begin to answer any questions. Too many people start responding to a question before the entire question is even asked. Not waiting to hear the entire questions can result in you providing a response which had nothing to do with the question. Force yourself to LISTEN to the entire question and make sure you understand the question.



    1. Pause and allow yourself time to value the question and listener. REPEAT the question out load so the entire audience can hear it. It is important that everyone “hear” the question or the answer you provide may not make sense to some of the people. By repeating the question, this will allow you some additional time to evaluate the question and formulate a response.



    1. Credit The Person for asking the question. You may say something like, “That was a great question” or, “Glad you asked that question” or even, “I get asked that question by many people”. One word of caution. If you credit one person with asking a question, be sure to credit EVERYONE for asking a question. You don’t want people to feel their question was not as important.



    1. Respond to the Question honestly and the best you can. If you do NOT know an answer to a question, do not try to fake it. Be honest, and tell them you do not know but DO promise to research the answer for them and DO get back to them.



    1. Bridge to the next question by asking them a question. “Does that answer your question?”, “Is that the kind of information you were looking for?”. This is critical.. Once they respond to you, “YES” you now have permission to go on to the next person. This also gives them one more opportunity to say, “No” and allow them to clarify their question more by asking it again.



Additional Tips on Handling Questions


A. Ask people to stand up when they ask a question. This does two things: (1) It shows you more readily who is asking the question, and (2) It make it easier for the audience to also hear the question.

B. Have small sheets of paper available for people to write down their questions during your presentation. They may forget what they were going to ask earlier.

C. Allow people to pass the questions to you if they feel uncomfortable standing up and asking the question out loud. This gives the person who truly wants to ask a question an option.

D. Always repeat the question – this does three things: (1) it makes sure you understood the question, (2) it gives you a chance to value the question and think of an answer, and (3) it assures the other people in the audience can hear the question since you are facing them.

E. Always take time to think “before” you answer all questions. This allows you time to think, especially for those difficult questions. Do the same for those questions you readily know the answer for. Responding too quickly to those questions you are most comfortable with will only bring attention to those questions you do not.

F. Have a pencil and paper available for you to write down questions you can’t answer. You select someone to record the questions on paper. This way, you can properly follow up with the person who asked the question you couldn’t answer. Be sure to get their name & phone number or address. Promise to get back to them and DO get back to them.


What is your salary expectation for this job?

via What is your salary expectation for this job?.

Some people think that this question aims to screw you and see how much they can squeeze out of you (especially if it comes from a recruiter, not from a headhunter). But having this belief won’t help you much. It’s better to think that they are looking for a win-win relationship, and they want to pay you fairly (if they see you a top performer) and avoid discrimination allegations. They ask you this question just to verify that you are NOT above their normal range. No company likes to hire someone that accepts to be offered a salary that’s below their expectations because that person will not be naturally motivated.
Usually the hiring manager has a salary range in his mind, and you will fall into it depending on three factors:
1) your current salary
2) how your experience relate to the job
3) the internal equity, meaning how the company is paying others in similar roles.
They ask you about your expectations because they want to figure out where in their range you would best fit, so they don’t over pay and you don’t get undervalued. And they appreciate people who know what they want.

So, the best advice here is to do your research: research what the company is paying, be confident in your skills and know your market value as I teach in the Phone Interview Success System. And then be direct and sincere and tell the salary range where you’d feel comfortable with. So, if you’re making 50k for instance, say you’re looking in the 60-70k range but you’re flexible and ask if that is within the range of what they expect to hire at. In case you are not in range, show them that you enjoy the work more than money, and that money expectation should not be the deciding issue.
Or you may want to negotiate when you hear this question (especially if you work at senior levels)…
It is hard to negotiate when you’ve been in the job market for months and low on savings. It is especially hard to negotiate in recession times, when the employers are the kings and the employees are the servants more than ever. However, if you want to play that game, you must be ready to let go of this job opportunity. You must be able to stick to your guns and be able to walk away. You need to really be able to say, ‘no thank you, I can’t accept at this amount of money, but I will if you can come to xxx.’
In case you want to negotiate, never give the number at the first time they ask you this question, or you’ll lose your negotiation power and appear weak in the eyes of the interviewer. Resist at least once before you answer this question. Answer that you’d like to first understand what are the job requirements and responsibilities are, and get a better idea of what the range for that position is.
Remember that most recruiters are better negotiators than you. So they may use smart ways to get you to give them a salary range first. But you’ve got to be clear on this question and never give in the first time.
Another version of this question is ”What did you make at your last job?”. Again: don’t tell them first. Try to get them answer it first. Put a smile on your face and tell them something like “This job is not exactly the same as my last one. So let’s discuss what my responsibilities would be here…”
Even if the interviewer asks you ”Why don’t you want to give your salary range?”. Again: smile and be direct and confident in your answer: ”I would expect to be paid commensurately with my contribution to your company. I think you have a good idea of what this position is worth to your company, and that’s important information for me to know.” Or in case you never want to give that information, just say that “my previous employer has insisted that salary information remains confidential”. But if the interviewer insists, I’d suggest you give him a clear and honest answer (warning: many employers will check references and confirm your salary history). You don’t want to play games here unless you are a superstar. If you never give in and provide the interviewer with the information he needs, he may decide you sound like a troublesome person (or look like an arrogant prick)…
Another strategy is that you ask first: “Now that I understand about the job responsibilities, can you give me an idea of the range budgeted for this position (including all company’s benefit package)?” If they fight back with a question like “you tell me first your expectations”…smile back and said: “I asked you first (big smile) because for me it’s really important to know what this position worth to your company is. My salary requirements are only one part of the total benefit package. I prefer a job with significant upside based on performance but I am flexible and would be willing to consider a higher base salary if the bonus is lower. What structure do you use here?”.
If you’ve delayed the answer too much, you’ll see that in the interviewer’s face. Or be ready to hear something like “How strange, no else has ever had any problems telling their salary…OK……”. If that happens, you’ve got two options:

a) you give in an say what you expect (give a range) if that position really interests you and add: “but I’m flexible, based on other benefits or performance incentives” or
b) if that position is not very interesting to you, you stand on your feet and reply with “I am sorry to disappoint you but I am not sure what can I expect without discussing first about the structure you use in this company”…or you bump up your current salary by a nice 20% to 30%.

Remember my first advice: research what the company is paying, be confident in your skills and know your market value. And then be direct and sincere and tell the salary range where you’d feel comfortable with. It’s not very smart to negotiate when you are not a superstar (especially in a market where there is less job offerings than candidates).

10 Good Ways to ‘Tell Me About Yourself’

10 Good Ways to ‘Tell Me About Yourself’

‘If Hollywood made a movie about my life, it would be called…’ and nine more memorable answ

via 10 Good Ways to ‘Tell Me About Yourself’.

You know it’s coming.

It’s the most feared question during any job interview: Do you think I would look good in a cowboy hat?

Just kidding. The real question is: Can youtell me about yourself?

Blecch. What a boring, vague, open-ended question. Who likes answering that?

I know. I’m with you. But unfortunately, hiring managers and executive recruiters ask the question. Even if you’re not interviewing and you’re out networking in the community — you need to be ready to hear it and answer it. At all times.

Now, before I share a list of 10 memorable answers, consider the two essential elements behind the answers:

The medium is the message. The interviewer cares less about your answer to this question and more about the confidence, enthusiasm and passion with which you answer it.

The speed of the response is the response. The biggest mistake you could make is pausing, stalling or fumbling at the onset of your answer, thus demonstrating a lack of self-awareness and self-esteem.

Next time you’re faced with the dreaded, “Tell me about yourself…” question, try these:

  • “I can summarize who I am in three words.” Grabs their attention immediately. Demonstrates your ability to be concise, creative and compelling.
  • “The quotation I live my life by is…” Proves that personal development is an essential part of your growth plan. Also shows your ability to motivate yourself.
  • “My personal philosophy is…” Companies hire athletes – not shortstops. This line indicates your position as a thinker, not just an employee.
  • “People who know me best say that I’m…” This response offers insight into your own level of self-awareness.
  • “Well, I googled myself this morning, and here’s what I found…”Tech-savvy, fun, cool people would say this. Unexpected and memorable.
  • “My passion is…” People don’t care what you do – people care who you are. And what you’re passionate about is who you are. Plus, passion unearths enthusiasm.
  • “When I was seven years old, I always wanted to be…” An answer like this shows that you’ve been preparing for this job your whole life, not just the night before.
  • “If Hollywood made a move about my life, it would be called…”Engaging, interesting and entertaining.
  • “Can I show you, instead of tell you?” Then, pull something out of your pocket that represents who you are. Who could resist this answer? Who could forget this answer?
  • “The compliment people give me most frequently is…” Almost like a testimonial, this response also indicates self-awareness and openness to feedback.

Keep in mind that these examples are just the opener. The secret is thinking how you will follow up each answer with relevant, interesting and concise explanations that make the already bored interviewer look up from his stale coffee and think, “Wow! That’s the best answer I’ve heard all day!”

Ultimately it’s about answering quickly, it’s about speaking creatively and it’s about breaking people’s patterns.

I understand your fear with such answers. Responses like these are risky, unexpected and unorthodox. And that’s exactly why they work.

Otherwise you become (yet another) non-entity in the gray mass of blah, blah, blah.

You’re hireable because of your answers. When people ask you to tell them about yourself, make them glad they asked.