Author: Taylor Tobin Source:FairyGodBoss
We want to start by offering the following reassurance: nine times out of ten, employers aren’t formulating interview questions with the express purpose of tripping you up. They’re asking for information that can legitimately help them come to a hiring decision, and they have nothing to gain from blindsiding you with a “Gotcha!” just for the heck of it.
That said, employers can gather useful intel by including a few inquiries that require quick thinking and on-the-spot personal analysis. Business Insider compiled a list of common “tricky” questions, and I’ve selected a few highlights (and added some questions of my own) to give you a pre-interview head start.
1. “What can you tell me about yourself?”
This one couldn’t seem more straightforward, but it’s important to recognize what the employer actually hopes to discern when asking this question. Don’t focus on your personal life, tailor your responses to highlight specific past accomplishments and be sure to keep your professional strengths at the forefront.
2. “How would you describe yourself in one word?”
“They want to know about your personality type, how confident you are in your self-perception, and whether your work style is a good fit for the job,” career expert Lynn Taylor told Business Insider. Answer with a positive attribute that you think will make you successful in this particular role, and you’ll be in good shape.
3. “How does this position compare to others you are applying for?”
This question provides an example of the power of an honest-but-measured interview response. You don’t want to say “I’m not applying anywhere else,” as that will read as disingenuous and suspicious. At the same time, talking up the amazing features of the other jobs you’re applying for may cause this company to dismiss you as unattainable. Business Insider suggests a balanced approach, like “there are several organizations with whom I am interviewing, however, I’ve not yet decided the best fit for my next career move.”
4. “Why do you want to leave your current job?”
When discussing your current job or past positions in an interview, try to avoid dwelling on the negative. Sure, your boss might be a space cadet and your company culture may be toxic… but those comments won’t endear you to this new company. Instead, focus on the desirable attributes offered by this new position. “”Know that hiring managers don’t mind hearing that you’re particularly excited about the growth opportunity at their company,” Taylor explained to BI.
5.“What could your current company do to keep you?”
This slight spin on the “Why do you want to leave?” question feels particularly tricky, but the same principles should apply for your response. Emphasize what you’re looking for from your next position rather than what’s lacking in your current one, and you’ll come across as driven and goal-oriented.
6. “Can you name three of your strengths and weaknesses?”
Perhaps the most classic interview question of them all, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” is an exercise in self-reflection. While Taylor advised BI to “ultimately turn [your weaknesses] into strengths,” I’m going to respectfully disagree. The old “my weakness is actually my strength!” trick is a tired one, and hiring managers have seen it countless times before. The problem? It doesn’t address their actual point of interest (your ability to evaluate your own strong suits and areas that need improvement). A better bet involves being honest about your weaknesses, but actively mentioning the steps you’re taking to grow and evolve.