The internet is filled with many articles on job interview preparation and best advice about most common or typical interview questions.
However, very few or none explain how to formulate your unique and authentic answer. How to pay attention to your hiring manager's needs or put forward your soft skills (listening, patience, critical thinking, problem solving etc.) so you can shine and stand out from other candidates.
If we hear the same interview questions and answers over and over in every job interview is because these questions help the interviewer to identify several aspects of the candidate in the short time given.
The objective of a job interview is to identify the candidate which fits in the environment, understands the culture of the company and helps achieve the objective of the team without adding any challenges to it.
There are only a few occasions or jobs which enable the hiring manager to verify if the candidate is good at performing the job. For this reason; the hiring manager needs to trust what is on the Curriculum Vitae and Cover Letter of the job candidate, but for the rest, the hiring manager will translate your answers. Behind every interview question is a specific objective. Knowing those objectives are part of your job interview preparation and will help you to formulate your interview answers. Keeping them true but close to your hiring manager needs.
Let us review together what are the objectives of the 5 most common interview questions during the job interview so you can integrate those elements to your job interview answers.
1) Objectives of "Tell me about yourself?"
This question, that can be asked as follows : can you tell me more about you? Or can you introduce yourself? For this question, what you need to know is that the manager will try to get a first impression on how you articulate an answer when a question is asked to you, not only during this job interview but in the future of your day to day working life. Here you need to pay attention that your answer is indeed a summary of your resume and not a detailed spoken version of it.
You will also make sure you emphasize the most important aspects for the job position. You will do so starting from the oldest experience/ facts, to the most recent one. Here you need to be careful that you do not go into a whole hour answer but that you stay concise and keep the interest of your hiring manager up. This interview question is the first impression the hiring manager will get of you. It will give him or her an idea on your communication skills. It is important you give your answer keeping the time short (2 to 3 minutes max), using a chronological story.
2) Objectives of "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
Too often people think that hiring managers want to know what timing and need they will have to consider before you make the move to your next position. This common interview question will help the hiring manager to understand whether you are a stable candidate and if it is worth investing in you.
For instance, if you say that you would love to be a people manager in less than 2 years, this tells your hiring manager that he or she may need to look for a new candidate very soon and that they will need to extensively coach you towards your objective. There is inherently nothing bad about it but this is how interview answers will be interpreted. This interview question is about stability; challenges and willingness to engage in the company based on how you envision your future life, both personal and professional.
Don't force yourself to say that you wish to be a manager if you don't want to become one. Focus on what the location, the culture, the opportunity and the company bring to you and match your career plan.
3) Objective of "Why should we give you this job?"
This typical interview question is asked to understand your integrity, respect for others and understand what you would do to succeed in your job.
It is not about motivation or how great you are. The hiring manager will look for hints in your answer that will help understand how you stand out from other candidates while still being positive. When you are formulating your answer, avoid saying how motivated you are or how many hours you will put in the job. Those sorts of statements may vary so much based on numerous factors like culture of the company, team fits, smart objectives, workload etc. This belongs to the future and no one can predict the future.
The best is to focus on facts, what you have done at the University that made you learn efficiently, how you cross your objectives in your current job using time management or how your great communication or listening skills help you build a powerful network inside and outside of the company. Here, very much focus on your soft skills, use concrete examples which will help your hiring manager visualise how you will face their objectives.
Avoid using emotion, instead use facts and concrete examples. You can read more about it in this blog.
4) Objectives for "Why do you decide to leave your current company?"
Here the objective is for the hiring manager to understand if you are leaving the company because of the salary, the manager, the company culture or another reason which should be his or her concerns.
There are employees who will be against their manager regardless of how good the manager is, or employees who will complain about their colleagues or the lack of opportunity and challenges. In the mind of a manager, opportunities are everywhere around the corner. This being true or not; employees who are saying that the company did not present any opportunity to grow might seem to be a little impatient or easy on blaming others but themselves. In many jobs, there are often opportunities to stand out from other employees, by using listening skills, problem solving, being excellent at their jobs or by helping other colleagues.
Growth in a company often comes from soft skills of the employee and time. For this question, the hiring manager wants to make sure they won't hire a candidate who will be hard to satisfy.
5) Objective for "What are your main strengths & weaknesses?"
The traditional answer is to take a strength and turn it into something excessive so the hiring manager does not feel like it is actually a weakness. Example : I am highly perfectionist or I am so focused on my job that I often forget to go home on time.
The problem with this sort of answer is that it makes you look unauthentic and not completely honest. Nowadays, the objective of this question has slightly changed due to those automatic filled in questions. The hiring manager will search for authenticity and honesty.
Remember, the objective of a job interview is to know how much he or she can understand of the candidates before he or she gets hired.
Only a few of us have so little personal life so they would forget time to go home. Only a few of us are so detail oriented so they could be unbearable perfectionist. Let us be honest, most of our weaknesses will fall into managing emotion, expectations, politics or workload. The secret here is to tell your manager what you need in order to counter the weakness you have identified at work. As an example, if a lack of communication makes you feel useless, you can tell that you appreciate transparency in your work environment; and you appreciate frequent communication over necessary topics so that you can view a situation based on facts and not on emotion. A hiring manager will appreciate a candidate who knows him or herself so well. Plus, if you are able to inform him or her on how to counter this weakness, you are demonstrating maturity and authenticity.
The objective is not to believe every single word you say but finding the right interpretation to your formulated answer in its context. A candidate saying ten times that they are motivated during a job interview just tells the hiring manager the opposite. The interviewer will think that they might not be sure about their motivation as they need to repeat it over and over again.
Most hiring managers are used to doing job interviews and with experience they can recognize which candidates tell the truth from the one who does not. Never forget that, the secret behind a successful job interview lies in staying authentic, understanding hiring manager needs and putting forward your soft skills like patience, listening critical thinking, communication etc. We provide online coaching for job interview preparation at a very affordable price.
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