TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF
While this can seem like a benign question, this can be one of the scariest interview moments that you have. It is almost always the opening question. You need to speak calmly and with confidence, making solid eye contact as this will be a big part of the first impression you give the interviewer. They are looking for professional information, not personal. They don’t need to know that you “crush Call of Duty.” Speak about strengths that relate to the job you are interviewing for and how those strengths relate to the new position. Most importantly answer this, and all other questions, from a place of confidence. This question will set the tone for the interview and your future boss will spend the rest of the interview building on the impression you just gave.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS?
Again, a scary question that puts you on the spot. You are not expected to actually list your weaknesses. You don’t want say “I have a difficult time with being late”or “I work better on my own.” Find something that you can use to turn a weakness into a strength. For example, “I get anxious when projects run behind. I like to meet deadlines and when the team isn’t able to do that I just want to push to get it done.” This shows that deadlines matter to you and that you are focusing on “team” not “I” in how you think about work.
WHAT DIDN’T YOU LIKE ABOUT YOUR LAST JOB?
Talk about a scary question! This is a mine field to be thrown into and you should go in prepared for this one. You never want to say anything negative about your last job or employer. If you go in saying something like “my boss sucked” or “the people I worked with were idiots” you aren’t getting the job. No matter how cool you think the interviewer is, trash talking will only get you back to sending out your resume. If you left for a negative reason, find a truth and expand on it. The commute was too much, I had reached the highest position, felt I was no longer learning and I had trained the rest of the team well, I was ready for a career change. Things of this nature will comfort the interviewer rather than make them question your decision to leave.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN TWO YEARS?
Of course, you see yourself at the job you are interviewing for at the moment! Begin there. Talk about how you are seeing yourself working for this company and how far you will have progressed in two years. Again, this is a professional, not a personal, question. Stick to career progressions. In addition, make clear that in two years you also want to be training people to do the same things that you have learned. You want them to picture you in a position to help bring new and effective team members to the forefront. This can be a scary and awkward question but if you stay on track you’ll be fine!
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES?
Again, this may seem like a benign question, but if you have nothing prepared for this you may stumble quite a bit. Think about this because a lot of things that we do we may not think of as a hobby even though that is what it is. When you read the header, did a hobby immediately come to mind? It is unlikely, that is why this can be a scary question. What you don’t want to do is try to come up with these answers when the question is asked, have it ready. Some good examples of hobbies, bike riding, puzzles, reading, etc. If you don’t rebuild cars or do something with your hands, don’t worry about it, that isn’t what they are looking for. They are looking to see how you spend your free time and how they play into your personality.
TELL ME ABOUT A TIME YOU OVERCAME AN OBSTACLE
This is where you may bring in a bit of a personal reflection. An obstacle can be losing someone important to you, struggling as you joined the workforce to find your place, etc. What they are looking for is something that you connect to, not something like I had a difficult project at my last job. No, this is an actual obstacle that could have knocked you down but you got through. Tell them something you have an emotional connection with as this will create a rapport with the interviewer that you may not be able to get otherwise. A lot of the obstacles people go through are more relatable to others than we may think. We have all had trials and tribulations and this is a great time to show how you strong you are to come through something difficult. This shows a conviction of character that you need to be sure you capitalize on in the moment. Again, be sure you go in prepared for this question.
Is this a simple or a scary question? Depends on where you are coming from and how prepared you are to answer the question. In an interview the most simple question can be the most difficult to answer. Saying when a group of people come together to get a project done is not a good enough definition. Not only do you want to give a better definition but you want to be sure you add in a personal story of teamwork. Explain that teamwork is when a group of individuals with different viewpoints come together for a common goal. Teamwork is listening to and valuing combating opinions and learning from each other. Finding a way to incorporate multiple viewpoints to a final outcome that includes everyone involved. Then, give a personal antidote of a time you grew from a team experience. If you have worked in this setting with someone difficult it is okay to bring that up and then explain how the group was able to handle that situation. Anything that you can do to make sure that they know that you are able to not only work with a team but flourish in that setting will be a positive.
WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK HERE?
Tell them the truth, what brought you to this particular company. Things you don’t want to say are “I need the money” “my friend said you guys are cool” “you were the first people to respond to my resume.” Seems like that wouldn’t need to be said, but trust that it does. If you have prepared well for the interview you would have done some research on the company. Use that to your advantage. Say things to the effect of seeing long term capability with this company. That you feel you have not only a lot to offer the company but that you feel you can learn and expand on your knowledge. Personalize the answer to the company, depending on what the company does should help to shape your answer. Take things that you learned when doing research on the company and use that to your advantage.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE JOB STRESS?
They are not asking how you handle the stress of your kids or your relationship, they want to know how you handle on the job stresses. Some good ways to go are that you lean on the other people on your team. You talk things out with your superiors and peers to see if there is a way to help you manage the issues you’re dealing with. Keep in mind, they are not asking you what you will do if you are having a nervous breakdown. They are discussing things like tight deadlines, short staffed on high level projects, too many projects at once. When you are finding solutions to issues, not personal issues. Again, they are work issues. However, as long as you are explaining how you would handle the stress at work, you can add in that you go to the gym, take a weekend away with your spouse, etc. They need to know that you won’t just hold on to the stress and try to figure it out on your own. You need to be able to take job stress to the team, to your peers and that you will recognize it and fix it, not just pretend that it doesn’t happen.
WHAT IS YOUR SALARY REQUIREMENT?
This is another difficult interview question because there are two ways you don’t want to go. You don’t want to highball them with some ridiculous number that you then feel they will negotiate down to your ideal salary because that could easily backfire. However, you do not want to lowball them because then you are not only selling yourself short, but they will likely take that number. If you go in saying you would accept a low number they have no reason to offer you more. Your best move is to go with a salary range. For example, “ I would like to make $80k but I would be willing to go down to $70k for a starting salary” Your low number should be something you are truly comfortable with, never go below what you can afford to make, that serves no purpose. Giving a salary range is also a way to show that you know what you are worth but that you also have a sense of humility. When you blurt out an unreasonably high number in hopes of a negotiation you are not necessarily showing confidence, it could be taken as arrogance.