Going for job interviews can be incredibly nerve-wracking, but getting that dream job can be a life-changing experience. According to LinkedIn, many job seekers highlight uncertainty and lack of confidence as their main problems faced during the interview process.
The good news? Most interviews follow a set of commonly asked questions and answers. If you learn the tips and tricks to answer these questions smartly, you’re able to ensure that you’re confident and ready for anything. Here are some tips on how to answer and ask the proper interview questions, for both the interviewer and interviewee! Here is more advice on questions to ask during interview.
The job interviewer already knows your basic information through your resume, cover letter, and social media platforms. What they’re looking for is to evaluate your skills and attitudes, to determine whether you are a right fit for the job. Does she make an empathetic leader? Will she lead our company to greater heights?
When answering the interviewer’s questions, don’t hesitate to explain why you took or left certain jobs. Talk about your experiences in school. Fill in any notable gaps in your resume –– perhaps you took a year off to backpack in Europe, for example. Let the interviewer understand not only what you’ve accomplished, but why you did what you did.
What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
One common flaw that candidates make is to state a “theoretical” weakness and subtly turn it into a strength. For example, “My biggest flaw is being too absorbed in my work! I should be more aware of the time I spend, but I love what I do so much that I can’t think of anything else.” So… your so-called “weakness” is being more hardworking than everyone else? A much better way is to come clean on your actual weakness, but state how you’re working to overcome or improve it.
Be clever and precise when talking about your strengths. Don’t leave it as a one-liner, but supplement your claims with examples. For example: If you think you’re a great emotionally intelligent leader, strengthen it by adding a few examples that prove what you claim to be.
What’s Your Five Year Plan?
There are two common answers: candidates either try to exemplify their ambition with an overly enthusiastic answer, such as “I want to work here!”, or a meek and humble response, such as “There are many talented people other than me. I just want to work and see where it goes.” In both cases, interviewers are unable to learn anything about the candidate –– perhaps only how well they can sell themselves.
Another alternative to this is to ask candidates what kind of business they would start. This would allow the candidate to talk about her hopes, aspirations, passions, and what kind of people she would like to work with.
Why Should We Hire You?
Since the candidate is unable to compare himself with people he doesn’t know, this question practically asks him to beg for the job. How’s that for substance? Instead, try posing a question that allows the candidate to expand on anything he might want yet to highlight, but hasn’t gotten the opportunity to do so.
There are hardly any candidates that end an interview feeling as if they’ve done their best. The interview may have gone in another direction, the interviewer may have ignored certain key attributes, or the candidate may have started overly hesitant and nervous. Either way, giving the candidates a second chance is beneficial for both the interviewee and interviewer –– we all want to learn as much as we can. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of this question, make sure to turn it into a conversation, not a soliloquy. Don’t sit back and passively listen, but ask for examples and elaborations.
What Are Your Professional Achievements?
Make sure to answer this question with relevance to the job –– no one wants to hear about irrelevant achievements, no matter how interesting they may be. Don’t shy away from mentioning any significant contributions you have made thus far: for example, resolving infighting between departments, helping an underperforming employee, etc. The ultimate aim is to allow the interviewer to imagine you succeeding in the position you’re applying for.
How Did You Manage Conflicts and Disagreements?
You can’t avoid conflict. Every functioning company that tries to get things done will experience conflict in some way or another. Hiring managers want to look for candidates that take responsibility for their actions, address and fixes the issue objectively. Employers need employees who are willing to admit their problems and learn from their mistakes.
What is Your Dream Job and Working Environment?
You must answer this question with relevance to your current job and industry. You may not need to make up an answer, but you should at least identify things about the job you’re applying for that may help you get your dream job someday. Then, talk about how these things can apply to what you may someday do. Don’t feel bad to admit that you may move on eventually to join another company, or start your own business. Employers no longer expect “forever” employees!
Think about what kind of environment you want to work in, then compare it to the job you’re applying for and the company’s culture. If you prefer consistent direction and support but the company expects its employees to self-manage, you might want to consider something else.
Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Job?
Never bad-mouth your company. Don’t mention how difficult your ex-boss may be, how your colleagues were unfriendly, etc. Gossiping and complaining about your current employer is a big no-no: if you’re willing to bad mouth someone, you’re able to do it to the company you’re applying to. Instead, divert the conversation to highlighting the positives a change of job can bring to you and your new company –– what you can achieve, what you want to learn, how you want to grow.
What Can We Expect From You in the First Three Months?
If you’re stumped, you can follow this surefire general framework. First, talk about how you’ll work hard to create value in your job, and not blindly stay busy. Secondly, you’ll learn how to cater and serve all your constituents –– your peers, customers, employees, suppliers, vendors, and your boss. Thirdly, you’ll focus on your strengths and key attributes to bring value to your work. Lastly, you’ll make a difference in the area that you’re in; you’ll bring life, excitement, focus, commitment, and teamwork.
What Was Your Previous Salary like?
We recommend you to try Liz Ryan’s clever approach in navigating such a difficult question: answer it as honestly as possible, but try to deflect or move away from it as soon as possible. For example, saying “I’m currently looking for jobs in the $40K range. Does the position fit within that?”. You already know the salary is within the range you’re looking at, but it’s a good way to deflect the question nonetheless.
Asking the Right Questions as an Interviewee
If you play it right, asking the correct questions can show that not only are you a good candidate but whether the company is a good fit for you.
What Do You Expect Me To Accomplish, and How Can I Contribute To Your Goals?
Great candidates hit the ground running. They aren’t interested in spending heads of time in orientation or training. They want to make a difference, starting now. Candidates want to spend time in a job with meaning and to meet like-minded purposeful people. Otherwise, a job is just another job.
What Drives Results?
Understanding what a company needs and wants is important. They may need a Human Resource team, but what they want are employees with the right attributes. A service technology team is needed, but the company wants these techs to identify problem-solving methods, build customer relationships, and garner sales.
What Do You Plan To Do If ___ Happens?
We live in a disruptive era, where changes can occur and disappear in a blink of an eye. Whilst some candidates may treat this job as a stepping stone, all of them still want growth and improvement. They want to know what you want to do, and how they can fit into these plans. If they do leave, it would be on their terms –– not because the company became bankrupt.
If you follow these tips religiously, I guarantee that you’ll soon become a polished, confident, and clear-handed candidate. Never fear another job interview again! You’re now able to display your knowledge, skills, and weaknesses without fear of comprising the position you’re applying to.