As I begin to get mentally prepare to head back into corporate America, I started to think about the interview questions you always get when applying for a position. Although I’m most likely returning to my old company, I’ll probably have to conduct another interview. No problem! I actually really enjoy interviews (is that an oxymoron?!).
There are all sorts of questions that get thrown at you when you are sitting across from your potential new employer and a few stood out as ones I typically hear. They are also ones that can throw us off or make us feel uncomfortable. Let’s not let that happen.
I like to compare the interview process to dating. On your first date, you certainly don’t lay it all out on the table(or at least you probably shouldn’t). It’s a courtship on both sides. Keeping that in mind, here are three questions to master before you head in to your big interview.
1. What’s your biggest weakness?
You’re going to get this question, we all do. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had an interview where I didn’t get this question. Even when I was interviewing for an internal position, I got this question. There are a few things to remember about this question; first the person asking this question is trying to get a better understanding of you as an employee, your self awareness and how you handle this perceived weakness. Also, it’s kind of a trick question. If you’re sometimes late to work, don’t say that. That’s not a weakness as an employee, that’s simply poor time management. Think deeper and explain what you have learned about your weakness and steps you are taking to get better.
If you ask an SVP his biggest weakness, what would he say? He’d say something along the lines of…”I’m too dedicated to the job. Finding a work-life balance can be challenging at times.” Think about that answer. That’s not viewed by the employer as a potential weakness for their company. That’s a positive. The person interviewing you is thinking, Wow, this person puts his whole heart into this job and for this company. Let’s help him maximize his time and perhaps give him an ability to better balance his job with his family life.
2. Why should we hire you?
Another one of my favorite questions. This is your time to shine! Do not be modest when answering this question (I learned that the hard way). The person asking the question, just gave you a platform to brag about yourself. This doesn’t happen that often in life. Take this question and RUN with it! Also remember to say everything with confidence. Sit up straight and tell them why you’re the best for the position. However, don’t get too overzealous but be specific on why you will be a tremendous asset to the team and the company as a whole.
I typically start off by saying, “Because I want to work for this company (or some other iteration) and I will outwork anyone else you’re currently interviewing.” Cover three areas when answer this question; your previous experience, the position and the company.
Although they gave you a platform, formulate an answer with a beginning, middle and end. Be clear and concise. After you’ve answer the question, move on to the next. You don’t want it to turn into a thirty minute session of you talking about yourself.
3. What are your salary requirements?
I’ll admit, in the beginning of my career this was my least favorite question. I would say a lower amount because I didn’t want the person interviewing me to think I was asking for too much money or I was greedy (no clue where I got these assumptions). I’d say, “Well, in my previous job I made…”. First, never start a sentence with “well” when you’re talking about your salary. Also, ask for what you want and deserve. Let them tell you it’s out of their budget. Remember, whatever you say is the starting point. It will only go down from that number. If you say 50K and they had 65K allocated for the position, more than likely…they’re not going to offer you more. Something we say in sales, take everything off the table!
Here’s what you say, “My salary requirements are X.” and then don’t say anything. Don’t justify your answer in the same sentence. Just answer the question. For a Sale’s Position you’d say something like, “My salary requirements are X, with a 50/50 split.”
An interview is different for everyone and these questions can be more complicated than just a simple answer. If there’s one thing you take away from this article, remember to directly answer the question that is asked, tell them what you want and say everything with confidence.
What are some other questions that stump you during the interview process? Would love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below!