The 10 Questions You Will Likely Experience
As I have said several times, interviews are stressful. They are stressful for you to get through and they are stressful for the interviewer. Keep in mind that they are looking for someone who will help them look good in their role. To do this they have to prepare for the interview by picking out what they want to know. The complex legality of employment law, which includes interviews, leads most employers to user questions that are approved by a body that makes sure they are legal. The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). Below are 10 questions that SHRM suggests every employer asks. So, it is a safe bet that you will hear them in some form. In this post I will attempt to help you know why this question is asked and how you can answer without being trapped.
· No answer should be longer than 1 min
· No answer should be less than 30 seconds
· Never answer yes or no to anything
· Never start an answer with “I don’t” (i.e. I don’t know, I don’t have experience with that, I don’t have an answer)
· Always shine a positive light on something even if it is a negative
1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
YOU WILL BE ASKED THIS QUESTION!! This question is an icebreaker, meant to make you feel more comfort and to show the interview panel how the rest of the interview will go. This question is still part of your first impression. Your answer will set the tone for the rest of the interview, so decide at this question who you want to be.
· Don’t be too casual
· Don’t talk about anything that is illegal for an interviewer to ask you about (i.e. family, disability, age)
· Don’t forget that you are in a job interview. Even though this is a personal question, it is still a professional interview
How to answer:
Like I’ve said, this is your chance to make a positive first impression. More than anything this answer should be a summary of your resume. Below are bullet points for you to fill in the info:
· First, thank the panel for the opportunity to interview.
· Second, say your full name even if someone has already introduced you.
o “As the interviewers name said, my name is Namie Namerson.
· Third, give a brief rundown of your career praising each of the experiences you’ve had in the past. Don’t go any further back than what is on your resume. NEVER, list anything that isn’t on your resume. Inconsistency makes it look like you are lying.
o “Most recently I worked at company XYZ where I was the XYZ Analyst, at this position I really developed skills for XYZing. Prior to that I worked for ABC industries. ABC industries gave me first real opportunity.”
· Fourth, talk about any education that you might have. If you are in school, talk about what you are studying and when you graduated. Don’t share your GPA, test scores, or any other personal information. Again, make sure what you say is what is on your resume.
o “I went to Southern State University where I studies Basket Weaving.”
· Fifth, share any certifications that you may have if they are on your resume.
o “I’m a Certified Red Basket Weaver and have been since 2015.”
· Finally, if you haven’t passed your 1 minute limit tell them something you like to do for fun. But, read the room to see if it would be appropriate.
o “In my spare time I like to run laps.”
2. Why did you leave your previous employer (or why do you want to leave your present job)?
Interviewers are asking this question to ensure that they are not inheriting a problem child. They want to avoid hiring someone they are just going to fire in the near future. They are not asking this question to hear about how bad your previous employers, managers, or positions were. Remember one of the rules of interviewing, “always shine a positive light”.
· Never talk about your previous employers in a negative light. How you talk about your previous employer is how you will talk about this one.
· Never imply that you had poor performance, even if you did.
· Never say that you were fired or let go. They imply that you are a bad employee. Instead say that “you left the position”.
· Never lie to hide something less than desirable.
How to answer:
This can be an easy question if you are leaving for a better opportunity or difficult if you left on bad terms. However, the approach is still the same. Shine a positive light, focus on how awesome you are, and be brief.
· Left on good terms:
o Focus on outgrowing your current opportunity. Let them know that you are a hard worker and you are ready to take on what they can throw at you.
o “While I have had nothing but positive experiences and love my co-workers I feel like it is time for a new challenge. I want to go somewhere where I can really dig my teeth in and make a difference.”
· Left on bad terms:
o Ensure that it is clear you left because you wanted to, even if you were terminated. They will likely find this out during a reference check, so you need to gain control of the narrative up front.
o “I left XYZ Company because I felt like my needs were no longer being met there. While I would have loved to continue mingeet the demands of the role, I feel like there are better opportunities out there for me, like this one. I want to work somewhere where I can really dig my teeth in and make a difference.”
3. What are your greatest strengths?
This question is being asked to see what it is that you think you are strong at. There isn’t really a hidden agenda behind it. However, this is a must succeed question! You know this question is going to be asked, you need to be prepared, if you aren’t the interview is over.
· Be confident without being cocky
· Never say that you don’t know, it seems as though you aren’t self-aware or confident
· Never appear to struggle, it shows that you didn’t prepare even though you knew you were being interviewed
How to answer:
In interviewing you need to use the rule of three to sound credible. This question is no different. Have three traits ready with at least two in reserve if they ask probing questions. Give the trait and a brief example of how you demonstrate the trait.
Repeat at least three times
· “One of my strengths is my drive. When either I, my team, or organization have a goal I will give 100% until we achieve it. Here is an example of a project that I did…..”
· “Another strength are my people skills. I like to make connections, learn about others, and show genuine value for my coworkers. An example of this is……”
· “Another strength is my creativity. I can really take a problem, break it down, think outside of the box and create a solution. An example is…..”
4. What are your weaknesses?
This question is being asked to determine how self-aware you are. This question, like the last, is one that you need to be prepared for. If you aren’t it tells the interviewer that you don’t care about the positions.
· Being too negative or too superficial
· Not demonstrating any self-awareness or self-growth
· Never say that you don’t have any weaknesses
· Never say that you don’t know
How to answer:
In this section I am tempted to tell you to turn a negative around to a positive. But, that isn’t exactly what you should do. In the past someone might have answered with, “My weakness is my tendency to be a workaholic. Since I am so committed to my job I always find myself being the one who is there to pitch in”. Look, interviewers are wise to this technique. The “I don’t want to say anything bad about myself” approach. Don’t use this approach. Remember that you are talking to a person and should show that you are a genuine person too. Instead, identify a weakness, but not one that is really bad. Talk about a struggle you had and how you overcame it. Be prepared for probing questions.
· “In the past I used to be very shy. This meant I often found that I struggled to make my voice heard in meetings and with other team members while working on a project. One such example was a development project where my vision was overpowered by a colleague. This was probably the worst that it ever got. It was at this point that I decided I needed to develop my confidence. I spoke with my supervisor and was able to arrange a public speaking skills course. While I still sometimes struggle with being shy, I am improving with every interaction and will continue to work on this skill.”
5. What can you tell me about our company and industry?
This question is being asked to see if you did any prep work for the interview. They also want to make sure you know what you are getting into.
· Never say that you don’t know much
· Never make something up. They know the company well and will know that you are wrong.
How to answer this question:
This question is based on prework. At a minimum, you should have read about the company on their website and the job posting. A best practice should have been to read about them on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Yelp, and any other review site.
You will give a brief, high-level overview of what they did and what you think the job is.
· “I read on your website that you……”
· “My experience with your company is…….”
· “In the job posting I saw that…….”
6. What do/did you like most and least about your present/most recent position?
In this question the interviewer wants to see if what you like and dislike lines up with the job that you are applying for. You need to have familiarized yourself with job posting essential functions prior to the interview.
· You must give something that you like and you dislike
· Never just say that you like everything about your position
· Never say that you dislike everything about your position
· Never say that it is the people or your co-workers that you like. It would seem like this would be a good habit, but you are avoiding giving an answer with any substance.
How to answer:
While this question seems like a mine field, it is easy to maneuver if you have a map of the mines. In this case, the map is the job posting. You will use the essential functions to craft your answer. All of the things that you like must be essential functions and all of the things you don’t like won’t be essential functions. You will use the rule of three, but slightly altered. You should give two likes and one dislike.
Example: Position Essential Functions: Buying Stuff, Working with Customers
· “During my time at ABC Industries, I enjoyed my role as a purchasing assistant. I liked finding a deal and buying the right product. As part of my role I routinely worked with customers. I would help to buy the things they needed. Each customer was a new challenge, but also a new chance to meet an interesting person. I don’t really enjoy working somewhere I am not busy. I hate to be bored.”
7. What isn’t on your resume?
This is a question that can throw a lot of people. It is also meant to ensure that you aren’t being too rehearsed. You should rehearse and be prepared for all questions, but never sound like it.
· Never talk about anything that is on your resume
· Never get too personal
How to answer:
This is another question that you should be able to hit out of the park. You don’t really have to have a professional example ready. You can use something personal. Use this example to demonstrate a soft skill or personal interest.
· Soft skill
o “Lately I have been working to improve my global perspective. I’ve found that understanding foreign client’s cultures helps me better connect with them. So, I have started to travel and research other places.”
· Personal Item
o “I am an avid dog trainer. I have been working with my pet dog to do agility courses. It doesn’t seem as easy as it looks. However, through hard work, dedication, and a lot of treats we have made it to an advanced level.”
8. Aren’t you underqualified/overqualified for this position (depending on their past experience)?
This question isn’t about what is being asked. The interviewer or panel know what your qualifications are. They are the ones who selected to interview you. If you were overqualified or under they wouldn’t be interviewing you. This is a question to see how you react when challenged. I know, it is sneaky.
· Never be defensive
· Never admit that you are over or under qualified
How to answer:
Using your set of experiences and your knowledge of the job posting demonstrate why you are a perfect fit for the job. While the question isn’t straight forward the answer is.
· If overqualified:
o “I have a lot of experience, but I am looking for something a bit different. I think I can use the skills I have to make a difference in this organization. Here’s how….”
· If underqualified:
o “It may seem like I have limited experience, but these examples………. Demonstrate how much experience that I have. I think I would be a great fit for the position”.
9. Has your perception of this opportunity changed based on our interview?
This question is being asked to see if you are still interested. Not only are interviews hard, but they are expensive for companies. They want to make sure that if they continue you in the hiring process that you won’t walk away at the end. This isn’t a trick question.
· Not being honest. Over the interview you probably learned about the position. If it isn’t for you say so. Otherwise, you’re a jerk.
How to answer:
There are three types of answers and they all depend on how you feel about the position. If you are interested, demonstrate that you learned something from the interview. You can use this opportunity to highlight something good that you said earlier. If you aren’t interested, it is ok to say so. This isn’t Tinder, so you don’t need to ghost them. Just tell them why, thank them for their consideration, and ask them to keep you in mind for other positions that are a better fit. They will respect you. If you need clarification about something, this is a good time. Don’t be afraid to ask a question. If you get this job you will be doing it for at least 40 hours a week. Make sure it is a good fit.
· Yes, I’m interested:
o “I have learned that I am a good fit. Earlier you mentioned……., I find this very fascinating. As I said, I have extensive experience through…….. in this area.”
· No, I’m not interested:
o “To be honest, I don’t know that this position would be a good fit for me. I am really looking for something a bit more inline with my skillset. However, I think that your company does amazing work. I would love to be considered for a position that is more in line with my goals.”
· Maybe, but I need some clarification:
o “I have learned that this is a complex position. Earlier you mentioned…….. do you mind expanding on that.”
10. Do you have any questions? Can you think of anything else you’d like to add?
This question will always be asked. Yes, this is asked to ensure that you understand the job and the process, but that isn’t all. Interviewers ask this question to see your commitment to the position. They want to see if you want to fit the job into your life. They also want to make sure you are assessing if it is the right job for you.
· NEVER, NEVER, NEVER say no
· Don’t ask about money at this point. It will come later, or you can send a follow-up email. It makes the interviewer question your motives.
· Don’t ask when they are making a decision.
· Don’t ask how quickly you advance in the company or position.
· NEVER ask how they think you did or if you got the job. You might have done well or got the job up until this question.
How to answer:
This is another example of the rule of three, you will never do more or less than three questions. You should limit your questions to a few topics: Tasks, environment, and learning.
o “When offered the position, what would an average day look like?”
o “In your opinion, what would be the most challenging task or project I would work on?”
o “How would you describe the team culture?”
o “What makes you want to work for the company?”
o “What is something you have learned in your position?”
o “What type of development opportunities are available?”