We have all been there. Your coveted interview begins, and just when you think things are going well, the hiring manager throws a curve ball at you. They ask one of your least favorite interview questions, one of those questions that should be easy to answer, but completely confuses you.
Everyone has that dreaded question, the one that gives you cold sweats the second you hear the interviewer ask it. During a recent episode of “talk about it tuesdaywe asked the public to share their least favorite interview questions, and today we’re going to help you answer the top three on that list.
1. “What is your greatest weakness?” »
By far, questions about your weaknesses were at the top of the list. Some people also associated it with describing your strengths, but being asked to describe your weaknesses was a clear winner (or loser) for most of us.
When this question arises, it feels like you’re being asked to give the interviewer a reason not to hire you, which seems completely contrary to the purpose of the interview. The real subtext behind this question, however, is a bit more strategic.
When they ask you about your weaknesses, hiring managers often test your self-awarenesschecking if you are ready to be honest about what you need to improve.
And that’s the key to answering the question. When asked about a weakness (or three), be honest, but frame your answer in a way that shows you are committed to improving.
For example, if you have trouble managing your time, tell the interviewer that you try to make lists and schedules for yourself to stay on track. If you don’t like public speaking, explain that you’re not always comfortable speaking in front of a group, but you’re open to opportunities to share your expertise with the team.
2. “Tell me about yourself.”
A close second on our list of your least favorite interview questions was this gem, which looks deceptively simple, but often leaves us perplexed. Is the interviewer really interested? Is it just an icebreaker? Should you respond on a more personal level or stay professional?
Before you answer, one thing to keep in mind is that this question helps you set the tone of the interview. This is a first opportunity to get to know your interviewer and a great opportunity to let your personality shine. They gave you the floor, so take advantage of it.
That said, keep your answers professional. Just like you use a cover letter to tell the story that isn’t in your resume, use this question to dig into the things you want to highlight. Tell the interviewer about the professional accomplishments you are most proud of, your current job, and what you are looking for in your career.
When formulating your answer, think of your answer as if it were following a chronology: share something from your past, discuss the present and talk about your plans for the future.
3. “Why do you want to work here?” »
Rounding out our three least favorite questions, there’s one that almost seems redundant when you hear it. Why apply for a job if you didn’t want to work for the company? Is this a trick question?
Again, there’s subtext here that’s not immediately apparent. Recruiters often use it question as a roundabout way to see what you know about the job and the company. Make your response a punch that shows interest in the company, followed by how much value you bring to the position.
If you’re applying to VA, for example, you might talk about how serving veterans is the greatest assignment in health care as a whole, or the attractiveness of our advantagesbefore explaining how your skills and experience will be valuable to your team.
Work at VA
Don’t be confused by your least favorite questions. Think about what the interviewer is really asking, then knock them out of the park with your answer.