Updated: May 27
Positioning yourself to ace job interview questioning warrants a certain level of self-exploration, and application. Prior to tackling interview questions and approaches, take some time to think about your most achieved accomplishments.
Your success rate is highly predicated upon the ability to construct your value worth (skills, attributes, expertise, and experiential knowledge) in such a way that the interviewer can literally envision you in the role. What do you bring to the table? What's your competitive advantage? What's your value add, or rather the value you will add to the role?
Importantly, don’t be presumptuous. Pay close attention to what the question asks, then answer the question making a direct connection between your strengths and how they will benefit the company. , we are able to confidently articulate responses of the things we are most assured of, however when it comes to interviewing we are not so sure what questions will be asked, nor how we should respond.
Clearly, there is no way to determine what specific questions may be asked at an interview, but with the proper preparation and practice of like similar questions and scenarios, will help you to be more confident in your ability to respond in a way that leaves a lasting impression.
"Tell them what you want them to know" - Jo Mayo
Typically, there are two types of questions: those that are geared towards better understanding how your skills and experiential knowledge align with the job role (getting to know you); the other is catered more toward assessing how you react(behavioral competency) under certain situations/conditions.
Getting to know you
This type of questioning allows the interviewer to assess how your skills and experiences best align with the position. You want to strategically align your strengths with each response. Use this opportunity to allow the interviewer to learn more about the level of your achievements as they relate to your past performance achievements
Situational interaction-based method approach
Unlike getting to know you questioning, these questions are strategically positioned to determine applicable competency levels. Be sure not to exaggerate your experiences and/or skills, as this method can be used as a process of elimination if your responses are found not to match the competencies on your cover letter and/or resume.
The intent of using both approaches is to assist the interviewer(s) in their efforts to hire the best-fit candidate. Of course, there is no way to determine specific questions that may be asked at an interview, however practicing interview questions that align as close as possible to actual interview questions, allow you to better prepare and become more confident in your ability to respond in a way that leaves a lasting impression.
Now, let's review some of the most commonly asked getting to know you questions and how to approach them. Questions are not limited to these, as particular wording is at the discretion of the interviewer however, they are intently interrelated.
"Tell me about yourself."
The intent is to understand your confidence level as it equates to your expertise, experiential knowledge and skills. Focus on your job qualifications. Showcase your accomplishments and positive qualities!
You want to make a first and lasting impression of why you are the best candidate for the job. Use work applicable experiences that are relevant to the position. Use this opportunity to: (1) introduce your skills and/or attributes that align with the position; and (2) take advantage of this opportunity to build upon and sell your strengths! Use work-related scenarios unless otherwise requested by the interviewer. Personal experiences should still be conveyed in a manner that aligns with characteristics conducive toward the position.
"Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
This question seeks to determine your career ambitions, motives and commitment level.
You are embarking upon a reciprocal relationship, thus you don’t want to come across as one with motives to rapidly climb the ladder. Although it may be your intent to explore upward mobility, this is not the time to mention it. First things first – obtain the position.
"What is your greatest strength?
The intent here is to understand how your attributes and experiences are relevant to the job, and how they will benefit the company. This may seem like an easy question to answer, however tread lightly. Be confident in your response without coming across as arrogant. Capitalize on your strengths; demonstrate your ability to lead, prioritize and problem solve.
"What is your greatest weakness?"
Employers know that everyone has weaknesses. A definite incorrect response would be none. Yes, it does happen! This question intends to better understand your level of self awareness; how you view and overcome challenges. The goal here is to demonstrate a weakness without damaging your potential for the job. Structure your response in a way that (1) demonstrates a weakness, and (2) turns the weakness into a strength that is directly correlated to job performance. Be sure to use applicable and compelling examples, as there may be additional follow-up questions that may require you to elaborate in more detail.
"Why should we hire you?"
The interviewer seeks to understand your level of confidence in what sets you apart from any other candidate. Just like the question “Tell me about yourself,” this is your opportunity to demonstrate how your expertise, experiential knowledge and skills relate to the position and makes you the best candidate for the position. Cater and align your response to the job type.
"Why have you chosen to work here?"
Hiring and training can be a costly expense. Employers want to ensure a return on their investment; to ensure your actions are sincere, thus being committed to the company’s vision and goals. Tell them what they want to know. Elaborate upon why you have chosen this particular company as your next career move.
Demonstrate how your values and aspirations align with those of the company. Your responses should demonstrate ample research efforts, therefore be sure to have done your homework so your communication comes across confident and sincere!
"What is your most significant accomplishment?"
This question intends to understand your personality style. Are you able to perform collectively as well as individually? Do you possess the ability to motivate your peers or others to achieve common goals, or are your accomplishments more self-seeking? Match the accomplishment with something relevant to the position.
Demonstrate how the company will benefit from your past performances and accomplishments! It is important to demonstrate how you can individually and inclusively influence and work well with others to reach mutually shared performance goals.
"Why did you leave your last job?"
This question seeks to understand why you left your last job, yes, but also to determine your perspective of work environments, as it may demonstrate a common theme in your behavior. It seeks to understand whether or not you will be an environmental fit for the position. As mentioned before, always exude a positive manner when addressing all questions, even when it comes to reasons for leaving past employment.
Within every interaction is the opportunity to learn valuable lessons! Focus upon lessons learned, professional growth, and career achievements. Make a direct correlation between your career progression and how these attributes will support the company in its endeavors.
Positioning yourself to ace job interview questions requires discipline, commitment, self-exploration, and self-assessment. Familiarize yourself with both types of questioning so
that you are adequately prepared.
The objective is to create unique responses that align your core competencies with each question. With best practice efforts, you will be well on your way to feeling more confident in your ability to address interview questions.
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