So you’ve made it through the vetting process, now onto the next arduous step of gaining meaningful employment. Not even meaningful, just well paying or consistent or ideally a combination of the three. On paper you sound great, now it’s time to translate that excellent first impression into real life charisma. Don’t let the curveballs of interview repartee unnerve you, here’s how to answer even the toughest of questions. Go get hired son.
“Tell me about yourself.”
Hint: They don’t want to really know your whole life story. Think of it instead as a synopsis on IMDB, you want to hook them into watching the movie. You, you’re the movie. Skip the nitty gritty and reel them in with your winning personality. They’ve seen your resume, they know the basics, instead convince them you’re the right fit. Build on the personality traits and lifetime achievements with genuine job applicability. Connecting this question to relevant job experience is the key to success.
“What do you know about the company?”
So let’s just say you’ve done your homework (and if you haven’t then you really should) – be selective in your answer. Although the ever mystical Google holds all the answers, pick out key highlights and relate it to your interests. Start with the basics, the location, employee numbers, history, key clients and strongest business areas. Leave out any former employees rants or anything too personal, that is sure to irk your interviewer. Then make sure to focus on the company mission, the department you’re applying for and what makes them special. A recipe for success.
“Why did you leave your last job?”
Whatever you do, don’t say your last boss was an asshole, idiot, bitch, bastard, insert withering insult here. Even if they were, it will only reflect poorly on you. Frame the difference of opinion as an opportunity for you to pursue, bigger, better and fresher things. It gives you the perfect in to talk about how this role is just that.
“What are your salary expectations?”
A daunting question, when money comes into play it’s better to play your hand closer to your chest. If you feel uncomfortable stating a number, ask further about the responsibilities and the job description. Note you’re willing to negotiate a fair offer in line with the ad posting or dependant upon the exact responsibilities and seniority. If you feel pressed to answer with a dollar amount indicate a bracket amount, it will leave things a little more open ended.
“What are your weaknesses?”
The worst question in the interview handbook. The cliché answer of flipping your weakness into a positive is dated. I’m too much of a perfectionist, I work way too hard, I never leave the office. Unless of course these are true, then by all means, work away little robot. Instead be honest and indicate how you’re working to better yourself on that front. On the constant pursuit of self improvement you are.
“Why should we hire you?”
So many reasons, not enough time. This your opportunity to sell yourself, hard. Show them how your skills match, evidence your enthusiasm for the job and demonstrate how you’d fit the culture. The key bit to that advice is show. Tell a story and show them your excitement and passion. Don’t just list off your list ticking qualities and instead evidence your personality and how you’d fit in.
“Describe a challenge or conflict you’ve face and how you dealt with it.”
Um, which one? Everyday is a challenge, really. Please don’t answer that. Instead think of a situation where you triumphed against great odds. It can be as simple as a mailing error or a negotiation situation, but try and relate, as best you can, to the position at hand. This will show how you could slip into the role and handle anything with ease and initiative.
“What’s your greatest personal achievement?”
Be selective, you don’t want to boast. Stick to a real highlight or two at absolute max. Show how your personal qualities will amplify your career pursuits. Where possible try and quantify this achievement, without exaggerating of course. Making your life sound like an epic it’s not is a recipe for disaster. Schooling, university and extracurricular pursuits are all in range, don’t try to talk about how superb an employee you are explicitly.
“Where do you see yourself in XX years?”
On holiday, travelling the world, running this company, it’s not an easy one to answer. Instead of talking directly about the destination talk about the journey you would take to reach those goals. If you dream of running the marketing department talk about the stepping stones and the skills you’ll use to achieve it. It’ll show you have drive, planning skills and excellent forward thinking.
“What gets you out of bed every day?”
Coffee, Berocca, a whole concoction of breakfast foods depending on my mood. What’s insinuate here is not literal of course, but in fact what drives you. The right tone of answer will link a pursuit outside work that fuels you to succeed. Maybe you’re a dedicated traveller, but don’t stop there. Link your drive to that travelling passion, do you love to talk to people or expand your networks. In the words of the ever wise Missy Elliott, “I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it.”
“Do you have any questions for me?”
Always answer yes. If you don’t ask questions, were you even paying attention? In the eyes of the interviewer, quite possibly yes. Show your engagement with the information, the job description and work culture by asking questions. From logistics, next steps, to direct questions about particular areas of interest. A big winner is asking about a unique campaign or particular win, you want to show your interest. Aim for three to four questions where possible. This is your chance to quiz them, make sure you take it with both hands.
Image source: HM.com.