When considering interview questions and answers, it pays to prepare a good answer for interview question challenges.
And when you're standing shoulder to shoulder with 20 candidates equally capable of doing the job, the issue is no longer how good you say you are. Because everyone says they're the best. Just watch 30 seconds of TVs "The Apprentice" if you don't believe me ;) The real issue is how relevant you can make yourself at a personal level to that one person standing between you and the job. Find out more on how to do this here.
Let's start off with the most popular of the interview questions and answers. It's a safe bet, and actually quite a nice little question.
I'd just like to reassure you - It's okay to have weaknesses, because everyone has them. Even Superman had Kryptonite. And what's more, it didn't make him any less super; only more human.
So for the love of Metropolis, please don't say:
"Well MY biggest weakness is that I'm a perfectionist!" *Smug face*
It won't make them think, "OHMYGOD! This candidate's perfect! Their weakness is ACTUALLY a strength! We have to have them!"
They will, however, think you're a smarmy little git. And this isn't the only way you'll damage your chances. And here's why.
Everyone has weaknesses. But not everyone can recognise that they have them. The people who don't recognise them make the same mistakes over and over, get the same bad results, and blame everyone else. Not every employer's dream, I'm sure you'll agree.
This question is trying to find out if you're this person, or the kind of person who can self-evaluate. If you can identify your own weaknesses and make changes to get better results.
With this in mind, pick something relatively minor from the past which you've identified, the steps you took to overcome it, and what's changed since.
And then say that you have no problem evaluating yourself and making changes to improve results.
A really good present-day answer would be if you're currently doing some specific training, or working toward a specific qualification. Show how you identified an area which needs improving, the steps you're currently taking (and any sacrifices you're making to allow for it), and then talk about how your results will improve once you get that qualification.
It's probably best to avoid mentioning that 'Sexual Harassment in the Workplace' course though o_O
What's the one thing you hope an interviewer doesn't pick up on and ask you about? How has this been holding you back? What if there were a way to use every objection, difficult question and weakness as yet another way to sell your abilities, just as easily as if your interviewer said to you, "Tell me more about your strengths." How much more success would you enjoy? Click here to find out.
Another tricky one, and of all the interview questions and answers this is another sure thing. It's also dead easy once you know how. Use the CLAMPS method for answering this. Acceptable reasons for leaving are:
CLAMPS - Challenge, Location, Advancement, Money, Prestige, Security.
"I left my last position because there was no longer any challenge in the role. After I solved the problems I had been hired for, the job seemed to do itself. I had made proposals to senior management to further the scope of the role, but unfortunately they lacked the ambition I have."
Why have I included this in a list of tough interview questions?
It's because this question comes in disguise. It seems like a really nice, informal question to start things off and ease you into your interview.
But for those in the know, it's the perfect way to start scoring points nice and early.
Don't fall into the trap of rambling on about how you're a hard worker, a team player, committed, loyal and, *shudder*, a perfectionist.
Go straight for the jugular. Use an Elevator Pitch.
An Elevator Pitch is a precise pitch which gets their attention and leaves them desperate for more, in the time span of an elevator ride.
Crafting your Elevator Pitch:
Step 1. Know the job requirements. The job spec and advert will help.
Step 2. Decide on your Unique Selling Points (USPs). Choose facts which are easily verified. Try to avoid wishy-washy generalisations like 'hard-worker', 'team player', 'loyal' etc. unless you can provide specific examples or evidence of this. On their own, they lack any real impact.
Step 3. Frame your USPs to address the job requirements, making the benefit clear to them.
The job requires someone capable of managing and turning around an unmotivated and underperforming sales team.
"Tell me about yourself."
"I'm a Sales Manager of 9 years, with a proven track record in turning around underperforming sales teams. Through improving each salespersons attitude, motivation or ability, I have taken teams from bringing in $200k or below, to over $650k, all within 18 months"
Already you've got their attention, and they'll listen to you differently throughout the entire interview. They'll see you as a professional, an achiever, a problem solver. They'll hang off every word you say.
Much better than boring them to tears with rambling, don't you think?
Of all the job interview questions and answers, this is the most overlooked. As you consider the advantage this knowledge gives you over every other candidate, I'd like to invite you to sign up to my free 5-part Winning at Job Interviews e-course (at the very top right of this page). It contains even more information to raise your Job Interview IQ, further setting you apart from every other candidate.
If you really have your heart set on saying your biggest weakness is that you're a perfectionist, you might want to complete the d-bag look and say you want to work for them "Because you guys are the best in the industry!" *Smugness level 70*
But for everyone else, the absolute best way to answer this is to do your homework on the company. If it's important to them AND it's important to you, this is what you mention.
If the company emphasises leadership, and if this is important to you, mention it. If they're well known for their standards of corporate responsibility, and this is important to you too, mention it. If they're working on projects which interest you, mention it.
On the other hand if you can't find anything you like about the company, your research has saved you some time and effort. You've found out now that it's not really the kind of place you'd be happy working at.
Just as in previous interview questions and answers, it pays to think in terms of the company's needs. If this job matches your previous job, talk about how your skills and abilities match the role, how it will allow you to create wins for them, and how it will allow you to grow and develop.
If you're changing career, then talk about any common ground between this job and your last. Talk about how you can apply your strengths and abilities from that common element to this position. Talk about the wins you can create. And finish by talking about how your goals fit this new career path.
These are great job interview answers which match your ability to the role and the company. You're making it obvious how you can help. And there's one other really important factor to mention here - motivation.
Motivation is equally important to ability, because if you can't be bothered to put in the time and effort to apply those abilities, you may as well have no ability at all. And every employer has made this (very costly) mistake in the past. To find out how you can prove continuous motivation throughout your interview, click here.
Hint: it has nothing to do with answering questions enthusiastically. All this proves is that you're enthusiastic about making a good impression. And it has nothing to do with giving examples of times where you were motivated. All this proves is that there have been times in the past where you were once motivated.
If you're asked this question, they're trying to find out what you're going be like to manage.
If you say you haven't had any bad managers, this doesn't help them because you're not giving them any real insight of what it would be like to work with you. They might also think you're trying to placate them.
Of course, if you genuinely haven't had any bad bosses, then don't lie. Talk about how you were able to develop good working relationships with lots of different types of managers.
To win at this question and score points with a bad manager, show them how you managed to make the best of a bad situation.
First of all, don't use the words "bad" or "worst" when describing your manager. Avoid judgemental labels, because it sounds like you're assigning blame. Instead talk about their "questionable approach", and how it "wouldn't be your first choice".
I agree, it sounds like you're skirting the issue and being indirect. But, assigning blame is the one thing that will land you in hot water with this question.
Talk briefly about what made them "different", about how you managed to take this into account when developing a good working relationship, and about how you still delivered amazing results. And talk about what you've learned from their "way of doing things".And for the last of the most wanted interview questions and answers...
This is another attempt to find out if you'll be difficult to work with.
The way to alienate them is to be very specific about how you want to be managed, especially if it's very different to their own style.
So keep things broad, and highlight points which make a mutually beneficial manager / employee relationship, such as a manager who:
Have you ever left an interview thinking you didn't have a chance to sell yourself because you weren't asked the right questions? And even if you haven't, how good would it feel to leave every interview knowing you've fully sold yourself, even when you're asked only 5 useless questions? Find out how you can take covert control of your interview here.
Obviously, interview questions and answers are only a small part of the skills you need to get the job you want.
It's great to have a good answer for interview question stand-offs. And to further increase your Job interview IQ and get the career you want, sign up for my free video e-course, Secret Psychological Interview Tactics, at the very top right of this page.
Secret Psychological Interview Tactics