In every interview there are moments at which you will be asked a question that seems to simply have no good answer.
There is nothing in particular that the potential employer is expecting to hear, and the question itself just feels dangerous. There are a few forms this question might take but the spirit of it remains the same.; “What are your weaknesses?” “In what area do you feel you are least comfortable?” “Are there any situations that you are uncomfortable with?” “What are some areas where you feel you need improvement.” These questions are some of the most loaded that you will ever encounter, and you should make it a point to learn how to overcome it. What The Interviewer Is Looking For.
Obviously the question is meant to reveal something… but what? Your potential employer will ask it with a casual tone and then stare straight at you as they watch the gears in your head start to turn, and a bead of sweat slowly forms on your brow. There is almost no analogy in any other arena in life where your will be asked to list off your weaknesses and detail them, with the exception of your psychologist’s couch perhaps. What is important to understand here is that while the words and the wording of your response are important, your reaction to the question being asked can be more telling than anything.
I asked this question of every person I have ever interviewed for a reason, and I have observed a myriad of reactions. Some people take a long pause for a while and think. This tells me that they have never bothered to contemplate their weaknesses, which may be a symptom of over-confidence or vanity.
Another common reaction, oddly enough, was a slight chuckle or smile. It is a perplexing reaction that I can promise you is quite off-putting to an interviewer. It is a serious question that, regardless of how you feel about it, you are expected to answer promptly and effectively like every other.
What your interviewer is looking for is honesty. Always, I repeat, always be honest when answering an interview question. As you are answering, your potential employer is asking themselves a few questions of their own: Does this applicant have the good sense to recognize their own weaknesses? Is the applicant’s answer an attempt to avoid the question? Does this applicant have a desire to improve themselves, or is this person simply answering for the sake of answering. Your reaction to this very tough question will tell all whether you like it or not… and whether you know it or not. Know Thyself…
To be able to speak on one’s own weakness takes courage, but more importantly it requires a self-knowledge that can be tough to cultivate for some. This kind of recognition of one’s failings can be very valuable to some employers, more so than many realize. Many very wise men throughout history have said and understood that knowing what you do not know is far more useful than knowing what you are already confident in. Men like Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, or any other famous scholar you could think of did not become what they are because they knew it all, they became what the are because they were aware that they knew nothing, and therefor had a hunger to learn and grow. Savvy employers don’t want a know-it-all on their team, trust me on that. There is a bold line between confidence and hubris, and you don’t want to find yourself on the wrong side of that line when things get tough. Know yourself; be true to what you are, what you know, and most importantly what you do not know.
There’s no response to the question about your flaws and failings that will make or break the interview for you. There are however rules to be followed that will give you some idea of where to start. First and foremost, be prepared. Hesitation on this question will say things to your potential employer that you don’t want said, so think of it beforehand. Second, keep your answer down to one main subject.
You do not want dig into your own psyche in front of a business owner. Again, it may seem obvious but it’s easier than you think to talk yourself down a rabbit-hole before you can catch it, and it’s a sad moment when you realize that you just said too much. Third, be as real as you can be. Use this as an opportunity to really help yourself learn and grow. Smart business people usually have a good sense of whether or not a person is being sincere, and this sincerity can speak volumes about your personality in general, and your worth as a potential employee and manager. Here’s the best answer to what are your weaknesses:
Interviewer: “Tell about some areas where you feel you could use some improvement.”
Applicant: “Well to be honest that’s something that I make it a point to think about.” This preface indicates that you are genuinely concerned with personal growth, but say no more than that. Any more than a single sentence and you will start to look as though you are stalling to think, albeit skillfully.
Applicant: “ I have always had a challenge with public speaking. Talking one on one with a client is actually on of my stronger skills, but speaking in meetings or in public with a number of people all focused on me, is something that I’m still working on. So I make it a point to take any opportunity I get to speak publicly, and whittle down that discomfort.”
Now let’s analyze this response: You have, in a concise and professional manner, shown that you are genuinely concerned with improving yourself. You have shown knowledge of proper corporate buzz-word usage in using the term “challenge” as apposed to “problem” or “issue.” You have displayed that you are confident in your strengths as well as being aware, but not afraid, of your weaknesses. And last but not least, you have shown that you are proactively working on a solution for your challenge, instead of just accepting it as an unalterable fact. That is what an employer wants to know; are you someone that sits on issues and does nothing… or are you someone that takes charge of their own fate regardless of the challenges you face? Prove that you are the latter, and you’ll be one step closer to the career you really want.
We have been in this spot before, the dreadful job searching process, then the interview and possibility of getting the job. Interviewers look for the most qualified individual and how they present themselves to the hiring manager. It can be a tricky thing to do in some cases depending on what they are looking for in the employee. Here are some things that you can always expect to be aware of.
What does the right “fit” for the position mean to the hiring manager?
At times it does not always mean you have to meet every criteria listed. It is about how similar you are to the interviewer. When you fit the position it is more about the perspective that enhances the team as a whole. This can be done in a few ways. One would be if you can mesh with the tea well, or if you might become a problem with them. Another is how well you would transition into the position they are asking you to fill.
Depending on your previous position how can you go from that to this basically. Fit can also be how much o an interest you seem to take in the company. That is always important because they want their values and goals to be met. If you have interest they are more likely to believe you have the company’s best interest at heart. Then you could be the person that they would be excited to have walk through their doors the next morning. And maybe even someone that they could see themselves being around outside of work and it not be weird. All those things come into play when hiring managers think about candidates.
Understanding the Culture
As mentioned above showing interest in the position is essential. It shows the interviewer that you know what they stand for specifically. You can demonstrate this through comparisons of other companies. Talk about the other companies and what they stand for and how it did not fit into what you were looking for.
This will get them interested in hearing about what drew you to their company in the first place. You can gradually shift this conversation into why you believe that you would make a good asset to their company as well. But do not come off arrogant or too cocky. They are turned off by this.
Know The Interviewer
If you happen to get a chance to know who is interviewing you before you in the interview, do your research on them. It is helpful in knowing how they will behave. Then find out what they do at the place of business and ask specific questions to that.
This will get them talking about what they do and if they’re excited about it and how they feel in the position hey are in. Especially if the interviewer is getting a raise and you are replacing them when they get promoted. You can get a feel of how the position will be and how long the interviewer held it. Also, maybe try to find a personal connection with the interviewer to gauge the common ground and have them open up a little more. This helps loosen both of you up and have a more relaxed, natural conversation.
Talk To Previous Employees Or Current Employees
Talking to the current employees or past ones can come in handy when you want to show how you will fit with the company. If you know a few people already it and demonstrate that you are friendly and get along with others well. This also goes hand in hand with knowing if you can get along with the team. Plus, if you do a little bit of name dropping that might enhance your chances of getting the job.
Depending on the position those people hold the interviewer may go back and talk to them after the interview to compare notes and see if you would be a good fit. Every interaction hat you have with the people in the company is another thing for the interviewer to look at as an evaluating mark. Just make sure to keep everything professional even when talking about those you know on a friendly basis. You still want to emanate the ability to keep personal and professional separate.
Show What You Know Is Relevant
A perfect way to show the interviewer that you are right for the position is to literally spell out everything that qualifies you. And what this means specifically is that you have to go through all the points of experience, qualities, and skills that they are looking for, for the job. This will show that you have really thought through what is required of you.
You want things to be super clear to the interviewer on where he decision should be. And if the job you had previously is not in the same field as the one you are applying for, that is ok. If you can make what you learned from your previous job fit into the role you are going for they will be very impressed with that ability. It will show that you can adapt and do whatever it is that needs to be done.
Make sure that they see you are excited about the position. Excitement is everything so whatever points you express to justify you are the right fit for the job, express them with passion and enthusiasm [however weak or vain they may seem]. This is very important especially when you apply to start up companies that are just essentially built on the energy of their employees, like Uber, Groupon, or Facebook. You have to provide it in the right amount though. Too much hype can be a little creepy. And not enough will just have the interviewer checked out and decision ready before you can even explain what you know how to do.
When they say presentation is everything, they truly mean it. You have to present yourself well in order to even be considered. Then you have to further explain to actually be the choice. Show them you are meant to be there because you want to be, first, then because you are qualified. Maybe even ask about the company events so that you make it known you want to be a present figure in the company and you are willing to put in the time and effort to do so.
Resume objectives or summaries can be a powerful tool, and while considered an optional section of the resume, it could land a job interview in and of itself. That’s why it is so important to know, and every applicant looking for a job should know how to write a resume objective or summary. It has three major components such as personal details, company details, and embellishments. Personal details should portray the applicant’s skill set and intentions within a very brief statement.
The company details should reveal a bit about the company and how the applicant will fulfill its needs. Embellishments are a risk. If used correctly, it can strengthen the resume, but incorrectly, and it could damage it. The resume objective’s or summary’s tone is important and varies depending on the job. Context is critical, and only the applicant can decide the best balance. Once that balance is found, the applicant can design a well-tailored resume objective or summary and have quite an edge.
Personal details are a chance to hint at a bit of experience that is relevant to the job. These statements should reveal where the applicant is coming from and what they plan to do. For example, “Seeking to further my abilities in,” verses, “Seeking to learn and excel in.” The first example reveals experience right out the door. It could be the start of any experienced applicant’s resume objective or summary.
While the second example shows no experience, but it does show an initiative to learn and progress. When forming the personal details, it is key that the applicant reveals where exactly they’re coming from.
Company details are a chance for the applicant to reveal how much they know about the company, and that they know just what they’re getting into. Company details follow the personal details, and can often be interchanged. Company details can be things like “management and working as a team,” or, “improving and streamlining business processes.” These examples would follow a personal detail and reveal something about the company. The first example reveals that the company has a team of employees.
The second reveals that there are systems to be improved. These phrases can reveal the desired position, and how the applicant sees themselves fitting into that position. It can also show that the applicant understands the company’s values. If the applicant doesn’t understand the company’s values then they should do some research. Having a different set of values could hurt the application, but nailing the company values could greatly advance it.
An embellishment is optional but adds a unique and personal touch to the objective or summary section. Embellishments are a great way to make the objective or summary stick out, but whether it sticks out in a negative or positive sense depends on how the applicant words it. For example, “Seeking to learn and excel as a master dojo and working as a team.” This one is relevant to a specific office where they play a game called “dojo.”
This could show that the applicant already has a personal connection to the office and their staff. If used incorrectly, the embellishment could also be awkward of offensive. Back to that example, if the last boss had dubbed himself the “dojo master,” but was later fired for sexual harassment, then this would greatly hinder the applicant’s chances. Before adding an embellishment, the applicant should be sure that it is not offensive; else they may end up offending the employees.
The tone is important, and it is also subtle, but it can change how the reader views the applicant without the reader knowing why. Different companies have different cultures, and each culture has its own undertone. Some companies are very competitive, and rigidly so. Others are about teamwork and are quite a bit more relaxed. Different tones might not sit as well with different companies, for example, “Seeking to advance productivity with extreme vigor,” versus, “Looking to make cool apps and have a bit of fun.”
The first seems a bit extreme, and the second is a bit relaxed. Portraying a tone can show the company what kind of worker you’d like to be. The first example reveals that the applicant wants to complete and progress things. The second shows that the applicant wants to make the work environment fun while maintaining progress. The embellishments tacked on the end exaggerate the tone, but aren’t required. A proper tone can still be communicated with or without embellishments.
The Literal Context
Context dictates almost every factor of the resume, but the literal context is the biggest factor. Literal context applies to the kind of job that is being applied to. Some jobs have a higher turnover rate and are constantly hiring. Other jobs have high-security standards, and the interview process is a matter of months. When writing for a job with a higher turnover rate, it is important to keep in mind what the application review’s mentality might be. For example, “Looking for a job that’s 30-40 hours a week,” verse, “To improve the daily processes and advance as an employee.” If the job application is for a fast food joint, and the application reviewer sees the word “improve,” then they might reject the application. Many fast food managers need people to work, and not try to improve things. On the other hand, a security company would reject the first example due to how plain it is. The reality is that some application reviewers care more about simplicity, while others prefer the complexity. Knowing what exactly the application reviewer wants is something every applicant should consider.
The resume objective or summary is a portion of the resume that could make the difference when applying for a job. When used properly, it can single the applicant out, and land them in a job interview. When used incorrectly, it could single the applicant out, and their application will be throw out. The personal details, company details, and embellishments are all opportunities to enhance the objective or summary. Taking note of context is important, and could make the difference between coming off as the perfect fit, or being rejected. While the objective or summary is an optional portion of the resume, it also could make the key difference, and land the applicant with the job.
We have all been in this position, you’re at a job interview and the interviewer asks “Why do you want to work here?”. Of course your first impulse is to say that you want to make money, need a job, or have rent to pay. That’s obviously not what your interviewer wants to hear, in this quick guide, we will go over how to answer this question and impress the interviewer at the same time. The thing about this question is that by asking it they are asking two questions, ‘why do you want this company?’ and, ‘why do you want this position?’.
You always need to prepare your answer to this question, because the chances are high that the hiring manager will ask it, so, how do you prepare? Think about it, do some research, why do you actually want to work there, what makes you want this certain company over another. Is it the opportunities you will get working there, or is it the people you will get to meet, it is important to know the true reason that you want to work there. If you are not genuinely interested in the job and can’t think of any reason apart from that it pays well, you might want to consider looking at different opportunities that better interest and motivate you, because there is nothing worse than waking up every day, dreading going to work.
In order to convey why you want to work at this company, your answer needs to be specific, make a remark that applies to the specific company, and not a general statement that could be said about any other company you could apply to, this shows you are dedicated to this specific company, which is what the hiring manager wants to see, and not taking a stab in the dark, taking whatever you can get. Do your research and be informed, show your knowledge of the company and industry at hand, impress the interviewer. Talk about the company’s success, reputation, or even their philosophy. Another thing is that in order to be successful, align what you say with the mindset of the company, the better you get along with the company’s ideals and values, the more likely you will be selected for the job. Yet another major factor that will affect your success in answering this question is to be enthusiastic, you want this job, so show this to the interviewer through the enthusiasm in your speech, this tells them you actually want this job, and will be committed to your work. You want to show that you will commit the foreseeable future to the company, and won’t leave within the next few months or years.
In order to answer why you want the specific position at the company, refer to past experiences, such as if you think it is the next natural stepping stone in your career. Also address what you can do for the company in the position you applied for, and potentially what you could do for the company in the future, because after all, the interviewer doesn’t care what you get out of the job, but how the company profits from you doing your job well. It is important to convey that you are the right person job, and that have unique qualities above the requirements of the job that could potentially profit the company. Know the department you are going to be working at inside-out, what do they do, how many employees are there, what is expected from you, etcetera. This is sometimes not possible, as companies do not always share intimate details of their work force or operations, so if you can’t find anything, add something personal, a personal reason you admire the company and would enjoy working there, such as the fact that you have seen it grow from a small business into a major market player, or even an experience you, a friend or family member had with the company, it could be anything, as long as it does not portray the company you are applying to in a bad light, that is an instant red flag for hiring managers, they want employees who love the company and will spend most of their foreseeable future working for the profit of the company, they want loyalty and dedication.
Keep your answer short, just like every other question you will be asked, they are not looking for an extremely long-winded and boring answer, but a concise, enthusiastic and clear response that directly answers the question without any fuss or unnecessary details that might be wasting the interviewer’s valuable time, this will also give off the professional attitude of getting things done well and quickly that the hiring manager is looking for in potential employees. Make sure that you answer the question in a genuine manner, and not as if you are reciting what you practiced, that shows the interviewer you are nervous and might easily crack in difficult situations, answer the question naturally and move on to the next question.
Most importantly, like every other interview question, don’t try to be funny, it is an absolute death sentence to your consideration for the job, trying to crack a cheesy joke, like “Cause I’m totally broke”, is not funny, even though it might be your first impulse and you think it’s funny, or you think that the interviewer would be amused , they won’t, they hear jokes all day from nervous interviewees that got scrapped off of the list.
To sum up, in order to answer this question successfully, you need to research the company; find a genuine reason you want to work at the company; find out what you can offer for the company and most important of all, stay calm, answer the question and move on, the question is meant to challenge your quick thinking and ability to deal with unfamiliar situations quickly and effectively. Be creative, interviewers are looking for something different and want you to impress them, but most important of all, be genuine and be yourself.
Hiring managers love to throw a question like this during job interviews. Sometimes, it’s the first question asked, after you’ve exchanged pleasantries or the manager explained the job opportunity or how the interview would progress, but it’s almost always near the beginning of the interview. It’s such an innocuous question that many candidates take it at face value and respond with a short monologue describing their personality and lifestyle choices. That’s a big mistake.
Why Ask This Question?
Do know that the manager is not just trying to get to know you better or looking for shared interests. He doesn’t care that you go to the same church, root for the same sports teams, or vote for the same party. The question is not intended as an icebreaker, to ease your anxiety before the real questions are asked. This is a real question. When it is asked, the interview has started and so you need to treat it as such.
Quite simply, hiring managers ask this question because they want to see how you answer. More than just what you say, they want to see the mental process you go through to develop the response. And, they want to understand what is important to you.
Don’t Respond Like This
Before I tell you how to nail this question, let’s be sure you understand how to not blow the interview because you weren’t prepared for this question.
1. Don’t describe your lifestyle, personality, extracurricular activities or the other minutiae that comprises your daily existence. No one cares; this is business and your response should capture anything related to it.
- Don’t rattle on for more than a couple of minutes. That is more than enough time to say what should be said. Any more time is needless, and you risk boring the manager. Make clear statements and at all cost, do not belabor the point.
- Don’t recite your resume. The manager already has that information, and he’s trying to learn something new about you. The correct response may include highlights and accomplishments from your resume, but presented in the context of how they make you the best candidate for the job.
- Don’t answer this question with a question. Any version of “what would you like to know?” is a huge loser. The manager wants to see you think under pressure; he wants an honest answer that reveals what you believe is important in this situation.Think Before You SpeakEven though the manager is trying to get an ad-libbed answer from you, and doesn’t want a canned response, you must prepare in advance to answer this question. So prepared that you can ad lib the answer when asked, not with a canned response, but with a compelling description of why your life experiences and career accomplishments make you the best candidate for the job.Despite the wording, this question is not about you. It’s about the hiring manager – what he or she believes is important in the person hired for this job. You answer will be what the hiring manager wants to hear about you, not what you want to say about yourself.
The first thing the manager will judge from your answer is how you react when asked to answer an open-ended, unstructured question under pressure. It says a lot about how you will react under pressure if they decide to hire you. If you blurt out the first thing that comes to mind to technically answer the question, it reveals that you probably won’t give thoughtful consideration to their clients’ concern if hired. If you stall by asking for more clarification when the question’s meaning is patently obvious, it reveals that you aren’t prepared, and that you probably won’t be prepared for their business. They do not want an employee trying to bluff their way around a client question. So, remember to be honest about yourself.
Ideally, the manager sees you pause for a moment to consider the question before answering. When you do answer, he wants to see that your answer addresses what you’ve decided he wants to know about you – in order to accomplish your goal of getting hired. That is how he wants you to think through such questions from their clients – consider their perspective and answer in a way that furthers the company’s goals.
Now, Say This
You have researched the company and have a good idea of its culture, priorities, and value proposition. You’ve analyzed the job description to identify the most important qualifications, and how those qualifications come together to form the ideal candidate. And, you’ve mapped your skills, career experience, and accomplishments to those important qualifications so that you can formulate compelling arguments why you are the ideal candidate for each job requirement. Finally, you document “success stories” from your career and/or personal life that demonstrate how you’ve actually executed with those skills and experience to achieve objectives relevant to those required by this job. Now, you are prepared to answer this question in a natural, thoughtful way.
All that you can add at this point is any insights you’ve learned about the hiring manager or opportunity during the interview itself. Something you learn may allow you to tweak the answer you’ve prepared to be even more effective. If so, it should require no more than elevating or substituting one of your skills over the others and using a different success story. You have all of that in you preparation from mapping your skills to their qualifications. All you are doing in the interview is choosing which skills/success stories you’ve developed will be more important to the hiring manager, and relating those in order of importance to create a persuasive argument.
Confirm and Close
Don’t be afraid to ask, after answering the question, whether the hiring manager thinks someone like you would be a good employee choice. You want to confirm that you’ve addressed his concerns. Ask whether there is anything else he’d like to know about you. As the interview is winding down, look for an opportunity to restate your argument, and then ask a closing question – “I’m even more excited after this meeting to work for your company. Can you see any reason why I wouldn’t be a very strong candidate?” If you’ve done well, the hiring manager will probably give you a positive buying signal.
How should you approach interview questions that inquire about where you see yourself in 5 years? What is the best way to capture and relay your future in a few short sentences? At first glance, this seems like a particularly vague question. Plus, there are so many different things that might happen within the next few years; how do you decide which things are important to include, and which you should exclude? A question like this can leave you a bit anxious and apprehensive as you find yourself attempting to quickly figure out how to make it seem like you have a firm grasp of where you’re going.
We understand how stressful and difficult it can be to organize your thoughts regarding this question on the spot. Because of this, we have provided you with a framework you can easily follow in order to communicate your most important visions of the future, and knock this question out of the park.
What Should You include?
If your interviewer asks you where you see yourself in 5 years, it is likely they simply want to know where you generally believe your life is headed. Don’t make it more complicated than it is. Of course, they likely want to know where you see yourself professionally in the next few years, and don’t care too much about your travel aspirations or relationship goals, but the question is straightforward. They want to know that you have put thought into your life direction, and that you are positive about your goals. In order to relay this information effectively, it is important to go into your interview with a plan. For your convenience, we have devised a general framework you can follow in order to create your plan. When answering this question, there are three key focuses: your commitment to this job, your enthusiasm for this job, and honesty.
You want to weave the notion of your commitment to the company throughout your reply. You can say things along the lines of “I would enjoy eventually being a manager of this company,” or “I have really great ideas about how to expand the influence of this company.” Make it very clear you intend to work at this company for a significant period of time.
Remember; you’re being interviewed for a job, which is a commitment. Your interviewer is likely not searching for a candidate who explains they see themselves working for a different company in a few years. It is very important to shape your answer in a way that emphasizes your commitment to the company. Interviewers like to see genuine interest in the company, and also like to know they can rely on you being around in the case they do hire you. They do not wish to waste their time on somebody who will only be present for a few months before moving onto their real career path. This said, it is also important to genuinely be interested in the company. You shouldn’t have to fake your interests. Do you actually want to work for a company you find disinteresting? Evaluate why you are applying for this job in the first place, and then plan how you can naturally incorporate this notion of commitment into your answers. Yes, they can tell if you’re faking it.
Answer this question enthusiastically, and do not be afraid to express your excitement for potentially working for the company, or even for being asked to an interview. For instance, you can explain you have been preparing for this position for a great deal of time, and that you are excited to see what all you can accomplish for the company over the next 5 years.
Professionalism is very important, and it should be your primary focus, but it is very possible to express enthusiasm while still remaining professional. Interviewers will not remember the candidates who spoke in a monotone voice, or those who generally seemed indifferent to being rewarded the position. They will, however, remember those who spoke with passion and demonstrated genuine excitement for the company. The idea is that if you are already showing passion and enthusiasm that early on in your involvement with the company, you will be incredibly effective later on when you are actually working. Of course, you shouldn’t seem artificially enthusiastic, but as previously discussed, you shouldn’t have to merely fake your enthusiasm; you should at least be mildly enthusiastic about your new job opportunity with this company!
You should be honest! You are not psychic, and you shouldn’t act like you know precisely how your life will play out. Because of this, it is okay to concede that you aren’t entirely sure where you will be in 5 years.
That being said, you should have a general idea of your direction, or at least a goal you’re working towards achieving, and you should mention these things. However, it is overall unwise to give a very detailed blueprint. Your interviewer simply wants to know you are committed to working for the company, and that you are positive about your future. They don’t want, or need, to know every detail about what you think will happen. They also might perceive you as generally unrealistic and/or unaware, and the company probably doesn’t want an unrealistic or unaware person working for them. It is certainly okay to not know what the future holds for you, and in fact, it can appear particularly insightful and bold if you explain that you aren’t totally sure about it. Just be honest!
Interviews provide wonderful opportunities to communicate why you are actually the most suitable candidate for the job. Because of this, it is important to understand how to best navigate them, and use them to your advantage. Review and follow this framework in order to create a plan for this seemingly intimidating question regarding your future.
Remember, when your interviewer asks where you see yourself in 5 years, they really just want to know where you believe your life is headed, both at a personal and corporate level so try to strike a balance between the two [of course slightly leaning towards the corporate side]. Simply incorporate how committed you are to the company, your enthusiasm for the job, and relay it in a very honest manner.
So once the interviewer has finished asking you all the questions they have, they like to ask if you have any questions. Everyone tells you that the interviewer likes if you ask questions (the right kind of questions that is) and that it shows you are keen and interested. However, sometimes this question can throw people off and either they don’t have any questions to ask or end up fumbling a question together that doesn’t need to be answered or has already been answered. Neither of these may look particularly good to an interviewer.
So, what kind of questions should you ask?
The questions should be combination of issues that are important to you and show an interest in the company and the job role. Often, most the immediate questions that you may have had could have already been answered during the course of the interview. It is also important to ask any questions you may have about the company as an interview works both ways – its for you to see if the company is right for you, as much as it is for them to see if you are right for the company.
Its a good idea to have some questions prepared before you go into the interview, perhaps ones you feel may not be included the main body of the interview.
There are some different types of questions you could ask. To begin with are some examples of questions regarding the role of the job. These are a good style of question to ask as it shows you are interested in the job role and have an interest in understanding more about the job itself. Some examples included:
• What would my day-to-day responsibilities be?• Where does this job role fit in the team and company structure?• Is this post a new or existing one?
Next, are some examples of what the company is like. As mentioned above, these questions are important so you can assess whether you feel the company is right for you:
• What does the company expect from its employees?• How is the level of staff turnover in the company?• What is the company culture like?• What are the company’s plans for the future?
Asking questions about the company will not only help you learn more about the company but is also an opportunity to show how well you have researched the role – this will in turn demonstrate you are passionate about the job. However you want to make sure that you do not come across sounding like you do not know anything about the company. You don’t want to seem like you are asking “What does your company do?” as the interviewer may be inclined to believe you have not done your research about the company and therefore have no real interest in working for them.
You may also want to ask some questions about the expectations of the role. These questions could include:
• What are the expectations of someone who is hired for this position?• How do you evaluate the performance of this position?
Asking about the requirements of the job can be good information for you to know as well, so you know if you are fully prepared to start the job if you are hired or if you need to go through any training or courses. Asking about these requirements will look good to the interviewer as well as they can see you are interested in performing at your best.
It is recommended that you avoid questions regarding salary and benefits as it could come across that you are only interested the monetary benefits the company gives you, rather than a deeper insight into the role and what you can give to the company. Whilst we are speaking of questions that should be avoided, you don’t want to ask anything that makes you sound as though you aren’t prepared to commit fully to the position. An example of this is asking about when you can take time off/holiday time. By all means, if you have previous commitments and you have been offered the job then you can let the company know, however in the initial interview, unless asking specifically, its best not to bring up time off. You don’t want to seem like you want to take time off before you’ve even started!
The best question to leave for last – and an important one to remember – is “When can I expect to hear from you?”. This is a good question to finish with. It shows you are eagerly interested but also could stop you checking your emails, running for the mail and sitting by the phone desperately over the next few days waiting to hear from the company. Alternatively, you could ask “What is the next step in the process?”. You may feel that this is a more appropriate question, especially if you know the interview process does have several steps. As mentioned above, this style of question shows you are interested in moving along in the process. However, you don’t want to ask “Did I get the job?” as this can come across as impatience and put interviewers on the spot and make them feel awkward. As a result of this, it can cause the interview to end of a sour note and this could potentially affect how the interviewers recalls the entire interviewer and your prospects of getting the position.
Now these questions may not always fit with what you want to know or be suitable after the course of the interview, however they can give you a good starting point for you to think of some specific questions you would like to ask in your interview. And of course, if there is a more specific question you think of during the interview, then you should of course ask it – provided it is appropriate!
So remember what you want to achieve when you ask your questions is:• Making sure the interviewer has no doubt about you and feels confident that you are suitable for the position.• Confirming your interest in the job and employer to the interviewer.• Finding out more about the company itself so you can assess whether you feel the job and the company are right for you.
How should you approach an interview question that entails aspects of your personal life? There exist both appropriate and very inappropriate responses you can provide. You might ask yourself, “Why are they asking me this in the first place?” It is likely they wish to know what sort of time off you will request in the future. This said, personal information about your life is usually none of the company’s business. Furthermore, it is appropriate to respond in such a way that communicates this. You are in no way obligated to relay details regarding your personal life during a job interview. In fact, you probably only should if it is incredibly relevant to the available job position.
This being said, you might now ask yourself, “Well, so what exactly should I say?” We have listed a few options for you below, and have outlined a general framework that ensures you do not sabotage yourself by providing unwarranted personal information.
Shift the Focus
Especially when asked a personal question, such as if you are planning on having children, unless it is very relevant to the available position in some manner, it is wise to reject answering the question and shift the focus. For instance, you may say something such as, “To be honest, my personal life is not too relevant to my eligibility for this job, so I would enjoy spending my time discussing my qualifications instead,” or “At this time in my life, I am really focused on advancing in my career.” Both of these statements shift the focus back onto your qualifications and experience for the available job. Whether or not you are planning on having children likely does not impact your skill level, so discussing very much will likely detract from all of the things you have to offer. Despite this, saying something like, “Yes! My partner and I are trying to have a baby now” can potentially make you an unattractive candidate, as you might request significant time off to care for your family. Even if you aren’t planning on requesting time off, your employer might anticipate you will, or believe you will work sub-optimally because you will pre-occupied with family duties and not as focused at work.
However, what you do in your personal life really isn’t the company’s business. This said, the question of if you are planning on having children is commonly asked during interviews, and it can be difficult to avoid. It is ultimately most important to handle this situation professionally, and shift the focus back to what makes you the ideal candidate without seeming combative.
Ask about the Inquiry Further
When you receive a question like this, it is likely your interviewer is actually asking if you will be able to meet the time and energy commitments of the position if hired. It can be seen that this question is fairly ambiguous. Therefore, it is reasonable and appropriate to inquire further about the reason why they are asking you this. For instance, you may ask, “Could you help me better understand how this is relevant to the job position?” It is likely they are not frivolously interested in your family aspirations. By asking a clarifying question, you indirectly address the real roots of the question. Furthermore, it is wise to immediately follow up with a statement such as, “Perhaps you’re wondering if I am able to commit fully and employ great focus, and I can ensure you this will not be an issue.” This way, you curtail the discussion regarding your personal matter, and additionally, assert once more you are very capable of performing the tasks of the job. It will be important for you to then observe their response, and understand if it is appropriate to provide an additional direction for the conversation. Do not be afraid to take control of the interview. If you contend it is appropriate, it may also be wise to then immediately state, “I am, however, interested in what your goals would be for me in this position.” In this case, you create an opportunity to continue a discussion that is more apposite to your abilities.
Opt to Not Answer
Another option is simply not answering the question. You are not required to provide private information regarding your personal endeavors. You are allowed to choose to not reply. It is recommended you only do this if you feel completely comfortable during the interview, and can infer that not responding will not make you a less attractive candidate. Unfortunately, while you are not required to reply, opting to not answer can make you seem contentious and/or secretive. You risk sabotaging yourself either during or after the interview, as you might receive criticism for this decision, even though it would be discriminatory. This being said, not replying is likely more favorable than admitting you are planning on having children, as family commitments are almost always viewed negatively by employers. They don’t like to know you will be splitting your focus.
Nevertheless, if you do decide to not answer, it is imperative you do not appear offended, overly emotional, or argumentative. Simply state something such as, “I would prefer to not answer that question” while remaining calm and confident. You may also add a statement suggesting you do not believe the question is relevant, but again, do not act as though you are attacking the interviewer. It is important to highlight your competencies, and make the main focus of the interview on your strengths. Having said that, it is also possible they will not mind much anyway, and simply continue onto the next question.
Interview questions that request you share information about your personal life are very tricky, but there do exist correct approaches you can take to avoid sabotaging yourself. As described, it is ultimately best to shift the focus of the conversation back to your capabilities, instead of taking the time to discuss irrelevant matters. You may also inquire further about your interviewer’s intention in asking the question, or simply opt to not answer, as you are not required to share private information. However, your true test will come in how you react as opposed to the actual thing you say.