There are some interview questions that come up time and again and to prepare your answers is smart. Role play these with someone, and get to the point where the answers roll off your tongue with ease.
What are your weaknesses?
Ahh, the good ol’ weakness question. Of course, it’s best not to mention that you have a penchant for drinking gin at 8am and like to start fisticuffs with colleagues who get on your nerves. Also leave out the cheesy answers like saying you’re a perfectionist or that you just don’t know how to say no to extra work. Instead, think of an area you would like to develop and talk about how you are addressing this weakness. For example, if you’re not very strong on Microsoft Excel you can say “Excel would be a weakness, I would say I am competent with it, however the more advanced stuff I am less familiar with. I am actually taking an online course to improve my skills as it’s important for me to continually develop”. Bam!
What are your salary expectations?
I hear the joke “As much as you can give me!” all the time. Trust me; you’re not the first to come up with that hilarious one liner. If you’re unsure of the salary range and don’t want to price yourself too high or too low then deflect the question back to them – “I’m flexible. What is the salary range for this role?” You can also say that money is not your motivating factor, a great working environment is and you trust they will pay industry standard for the right candidate. Alternatively you can just tell them! Kerrrrazy, I know! You could word it like this “I am currently making in the later 50k range and would like my new role to pay low to mid 60’s for it to make sense for me to make a move”. When you’re meeting a Recruiter always be honest with them. It’s their job to get you as much as they can and position you correctly in the market. The more money you’re paid, the more commission they make if they place you!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Don’t say that fingers crossed you’ll be living on a desert island after winning the lottery. Of course, it’d be great to win the lottery, heck even $10 on a scratch card would make my day; but keep your secret fantasies to yourself. Avoid saying the title of a particular role you want (you don’t want to pigeon hole yourself). Instead, describe how you would like to be contributing to their company “I see myself in a challenging role where I will be positively contributing towards the company I am working for.” or “I see myself in a role where I can influence and lead a team”.
Why should I hire you?
Because I am the best! Hello! Try “I am hardworking, dedicated and loyal” and “I have the relevant experience to excel in this position and I also have the drive to succeed and be incredibly effective”. “I am passionate about the role, the organization and my own success”. Talk passionately about yourself and tell them why you’re an excellent fit for the role! Be short, concise and smile!
Tell me about yourself?
Talk about your background like where you were born and brought up. Then say what your first relevant jobs were (don’t talk about that time you dressed as a hotdog for 7/11) moving onto the more recent roles. This is your chance now to tell them anything interesting about yourself. Tell them that you are a champion rock climber, that you run marathons, you produce screenplays in your spare time, you collect ceramic turtles…maybe don’t mention the turtles Go for it, but don’t over share!
What do you know about us?
Ummm…I know that this is a company and that your name is Steve…
This is only a tough question if you haven’t done any research. Please, please for the love of god research the company and the role you’re applying for. If you can, also research the person who is interviewing you. Look at their LinkedIn profile, Google their name, be as creepy as you like. You’ll impress them if you say something like “I noticed that you’ve been working for XYZ company for 5 years, how did you find the transition from high tech to not for profit” for example. Being able to talk about the company and role your interviewing intelligently is a shockingly a rare trait in candidates.
Why did you leave your last job?
Saying “My last boss was a total nutcase and had a terrible B.O. problem” is not going to endear you to your interviewer. Always talk favourably about your current and past work places, even if your boss stinks; figuratively and literally.
What if I was fired or let go?
Be honest. If you feed them a bunch of lies then it’ll only come back and bite you. Acknowledge what happened and what you learnt from it and how you’re developing now moving forward.
Most importantly, be genuine with your answers and remember the most crucial rule – smile!