Tackling the Most Common Interview Questions
By Andrea McCarthy, Director of Employment Placement Services, Leadership Institute
What is the strangest interview question you have received? Employers will ask a wide variety of interview questions. Some are so off the wall that your preparation will not matter. On the other hand, there are standard questions jobseekers can and should expect. Your research will serve you well for tried and true questions every interviewer will ask. But there are still a few tricky interview questions that every jobseeker must be ready for:
What is your biggest weakness?
Always answer this question with a characteristic that can be interpreted as a positive trait. Avoid the tired and common responses like, “I work too much.” or “I’m overly dedicated to the cause.” because those are not true weaknesses, and hiring managers will see through your canned reply. Take ownership of a true weakness and frame the issue. For example, “I have a difficult time saying no to colleagues who look for assistance on projects not related to my position. My workload gets too full, and I find myself getting behind on my day to day duties.” This implies you are a team player, but also acknowledges a real weakness.
What is your greatest strength?
This sounds like a softball, but many interviewees swing and miss. You may struggle focusing on the right strength for this interview or perhaps you do not feel comfortable bragging about your accomplishments, but you must focus your strength based on what is required or desired in the job description. If you are creative and the position calls for an innovative candidate, you’ve found your greatest strength. Be sure to back up your claim with a strong example of your stated trait. Let’s face it, you are talented, it is ok to change your greatest strength from interview to interview.
Have you ever been fired from a job?
Answer honestly. Employers will find out if you lied about being fired. Avoid making uncharitable comments about your former boss, coworkers, or the situation you found yourself in when the event occurred. Offer a brief explanation, keep it positive, and move on.
Why should I hire you for this position?
Tailor this answer to the job description and your resume. Explain how and why you are the best candidate for the job. Your response will be based on your past achievements, professional experience, or volunteer efforts. Use language straight from the job description to help focus your message.
What are your salary requirements?
There is no easy way to answer this. Do not start salary negotiations until you have been offered the job. After you have secured the position, give a salary range, not an actual figure. Research salary medians using salary.com for similar positions. The industry you work in may determine if the organization or company pays on the higher or lower end of the scale. Make the lower end of the range the amount you desire. If you have sold yourself as a valuable commodity to a company, organizations will often meet you somewhere in the middle of your scale.
If you have any questions on the above information or interviewing in general, do not hesitate to email Andrea McCarthy, the Leadership Institute’s Director of Employment Placement Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-247-2000. And if you are in the market for a job, register and create a profile on this free website. You can search through hundreds of job postings, both in DC and across the country, and employers can also look for you, view your profile, and download your resume. Visit www.conservativejobs.com to learn more!