If you have been in the workforce long enough, I’m sure you have experienced some of those same inane questions which continue to creep up in interview after interview.
What is your greatest weakness? Where do you see yourself in five years? …you know what I am talking about? I am talking about these annoying small talk questions that fill up just enough time between the really important questions.
Most interviewers and most human resources personnel and recruiters are experienced interviewers, so they typically know the “right” and “wrong” answers to questions. They also know what your answers say about YOU, both personally and professionally.
Like it or not, the same questions are asked just about every day during each and every interview in almost all sessions around the country. As with everything, interviews require preparation. One key element of your preparation should be to be informed. If you understand the information an interviewer is trying to obtain from you (even through those seemingly inane questions), answering them will be all the easier.
Here is a list of 25 common questions and what’s really behind them…
WHAT THEY WANT TO KNOW
|What was your class standing?|
How smart are you?
How hard did you work?
|Which supervisors have you found it easiest or most difficult to work with, and why?|
Are you adaptable?
|Give me an example of a time when you had to do more than what was required in your job. Did you work on any special projects?|
Do you have initiative?
|What hobbies do you have?|
Are you creative?
What kind of person are you?
|Do you ever find that you need to make exceptions to certain rules or policies? Give me an example of when you had to do this, and why.|
Do you have integrity?
How do you determine when flexibility is required?
|What are some of the tougher problems you faced in previous jobs? At what point did you ask for assistance? To whom did you go?|
Can you persevere in hard times?
How do you deal with real challenges?
|In school or in a previous job, how did you convince other people to accept your ideas?|
How persuasive are you?
|Do you consider yourself successful? What makes you think you can sell successfully? How do you feel when you get rejected?|
Are you self-confident?
|Can you give me a recent example of a time when you had to get your point across to different people? What approach did you take? Can you give me an example of a time when you had to convince your manager or co-worker about a new idea?|
How well can you communicate?
|Describe a typical day on your job.|
Level and complexity of work assignments
|Explain how you fit into your department. To whom did you report?|
Extent of responsibility
|What other departments did you work with in your previous job? Tell me about those relationships.|
|How hard or easy is it for you to handle multiple priorities simultaneously? Tell me how you accomplish this.|
How organised are you?
|Can you tell me a little about yourself? (Pretty boring and used by sooo many interviewers, but beware!)||The Interviewer is testing your ability to interact with others.|
|What are your greatest weaknesses? (Be careful – don’t fill your answers with fluff or what you think the interviewer wants to hear.)|
The interviewer wants to find out how honest you are and how you deal with obstacles.
|Where do you see yourself in 5 years?. (Boring! But beware as it is often a trap question. However, it is not asked to test your loyalty. It’s more about your structural behaviour.)|
They really want to know about your career plans and what you have planned for yourself otherwise
|Why do you want to work for this company? (I know – another frustrating one, but ensure to answer this one well!)|
The Interviewer gauges your interest in the position and your real motives for applying.
|How would your co-worker describe you?|
They are not interested in your little white lies. They’re trying to see how you think others view you.
|Why do you want to leave your current job?|
They are checking if it could happen to them if they hire you.
|Do you have any questions? (This one is important!!)|
Checking if you actually paid attention during the interview
|What kind of work are you looking for?|
Interviewer crosschecks how genuine your application is
|Can you explain the gap in your resume?|
Are you a job hopper or long term unemployed
|Wouldn’t this job represent a step down for you?|
Employer is afraid you’ll leave as soon as a better job offer pops up.
|How would you explain our organisation’s mission? (Careful with your answer! Everyone checks the About section but…)|
How much do you think you fit into the company?
|What are your strengths?|
How have you used your strengths to add value to your previous employers.
Once you’ve reviewed these questions and meanings, do a bit of soul searching to decide how you will answer these questions during your interviews – AND how your answers will be conveyed on your RESUME.
Chances are, at least one or two of your responses may change. Changing your answers, or at least understanding what an interviewer is expecting to hear in your answers, will dramatically increase your successes and opportunities in the job market.
So, as always, do your homework and prepare in advance for your interviews. Feel free to share this blog post if you know someone who is getting ready to head to a job interview and when you go back to your own job search, remember to hunt wisely!