Question Proposed on LinkedIn: What Are the Best Job Interview Answers PART 1 of 2?
- “What is your greatest strength?” is one of the easier interview questions you’ll be asked. When you are asked questions about your strengths, it’s important to discuss attributes that will qualify you for the job. The best way to respond is to describe the skills and experience that directly correlate with the job you are applying for. Be prepared to answer by making a list of the qualifications mentioned in the job posting. Make a list of your skills that match those listed. Then share your top related skills with the interviewer. “When I’m working on a project, I don’t want just to meet deadlines. Rather, I prefer to complete the project well ahead of schedule.” “I have exceeded my sales goals every quarter and I’ve earned a bonus each year since I started with my current employer.” “My time management skills are excellent and I’m organized, efficient, and take pride in excelling at my work.” “I pride myself on my customer service skills and my ability to resolve what could be difficult situations.”
- What is Your Greatest Weakness? When you’re asked what your greatest weakness is there are several different ways you can answer, including mentioning skills that aren’t critical for the job, skills you have improved on, and turning a negative into a positive. Discuss Non-Essential Skills: An alternative approach is to analyze the key skills and strengths required for the position you are interviewing for and then come up with an honest shortcoming which is not essential for success in that job. For example, if you are applying for nursing job, you might share that you are not particularly adept at conducting group presentations. In this case it will be critical to underscore your strength in one to one communication with patients while providing an example of your difficulty with presentations to large groups. Mention Skills You Have Improved: Another option is to discuss skills that you have improved upon during your previous job, so you are showing the interviewer that you can make improvements, when necessary. You can sketch for employers your initial level of functioning, discuss the steps you have taken to improve this area and then reference your current, improved level of skill. If you use this strategy be sure not to mention anything that you improved upon that is related to the job for which you are interviewing. You don’t want your qualifications for the job to be questioned. Turn a Negative into a Positive: Another option is try to turn a negative into a positive. For example, a sense of urgency to get projects completed or wanting to triple-check every item in a spreadsheet can be turned into a strength i.e. you are a candidate who will make sure that the project is done on time and your work will be close to perfect. Note that the term “weakness” isn’t used in the sample answers - you always want to focus on the positive when interviewing. Best Answers: “When I’m working on a project, I don’t want just to meet deadlines. Rather, I prefer to complete the project well ahead of schedule.” “Being organized wasn’t my strongest point, but I implemented a time management system that really helped my organization skills.” “I like to make sure that my work is perfect, so I tend to perhaps spend a little too much time checking it. However, I’ve come to a good balance by setting up a system to ensure everything is done correctly the first time.” “I used to wait until the last minute to set appointments for the coming week, but I realized that scheduling in advance makes much more sense.” “Sometimes, I spend more time than necessary on a task, or take on tasks personally that could easily be delegated to someone else. Although I’ve never missed a deadline, it is still an effort for me to know when to move on to the next task, and to be confident when assigning others work.” “I had difficulty with calculus during college, but I persevered with tutoring assistance and extra effort and completed 2 levels with a B minus average.” “I’ve learned to make my perfectionism work to my advantage at work. I am excellent at meeting deadlines, and with my attention to detail, I know my work is correct.” “I used to like to work on one project to its completion before starting on another, but I’ve learned to work on many projects at the same time, and I think it allows me to be more creative and effective in each one.”
- Why Are You Leaving Your Job? One of the questions that is typically asked in an interview is “Why are you leaving your job?” or “Why did you leave your previous job?” if you have already moved on. If you were fired from your job, these aren’t your answers. If you left of your own accord, review these suggestions on how best to answer and tailor your response to meet your particular situation. Be direct and focus your interview answer on the future, especially if your leaving wasn’t under the best of circumstances. Don’t Badmouth Your Boss: Regardless of why you left, don’t speak badly about your previous employer. The interviewer may wonder if you will be bad-mouthing his company next time you’re looking for work. I once interviewed a person who told me that her last employer was terrible. They didn’t pay her enough, the hours were awful and she hated the job. That company happened to be my company’s biggest, and most important, customer. And there is no way I would have hired someone who felt that way, justified or not, about our valuable client. So, she gave up any opportunity of getting the job as soon as she answered the “Why did you leave?” question. Prepare answers to typical job interview questions, like this one, in advance. Practice your responses so you sound positive, and clear, about your circumstances and your goals for the future. Sample answers to the interview question “Why did you leave your job? “I found myself bored with the work and looking for more challenges. I am an excellent employee and I didn’t want my unhappiness to have any impact on the job I was doing for my employer.” “There isn’t room for growth with my current employer and I’m ready to move on to a new challenge.” “I’m looking for a bigger challenge and to grow my career and I couldn’t job hunt part time while working. It didn’t seem ethical to use my former employer’s time.” “I was laid-off from my last position when our department was eliminated due to corporate restructuring.” “I’m relocating to this area due to family circumstances and left my previous position in order to make the move.” “I’ve decided that is not the direction I want to go in my career and my current employer has no opportunities in the direction I’d like to head.” “After several years in my last position, I’m looking for an company where I can contribute and grow in a team-oriented environment.” “I am interested in a new challenge and an opportunity to use my technical skills and experience in a different capacity than I have in the past.” “I recently received my degree and I want to utilize my educational background in my next position.” “I am interested in a job with more responsibility, and I am very ready for a new challenge.” “I left my last position in order to spend more time with my family. Circumstances have changed and I’m more than ready for full-time employment again.” “I am seeking a position with a stable company with room for growth and opportunity for advancement.” “I was commuting to the city and spending a significant amount of time each day on travel. I would prefer to be closer to home.” “To be honest, I wasn’t considering a move, but, I saw this job posting and was intrigued by the position and the company. It sounds like an exciting opportunity and an ideal match with my qualifications. “This position seemed like an excellent match for my skills and experience and I am not able to fully utilize them in my present job.” “The company was cutting back and, unfortunately, my job was one of those eliminated.”
- Why Do You Want This Job? Why do you want this job? Are you prepared to answer this question in an interview? Career expert and author, Joyce Lain Kennedy, shares her best job interview answers to the question “Why do you want this job?” Keep in mind that you can customize these answers to fit your particular circumstances and the job you are applying for. Joyce Lain Kennedy’s sample answers to the interview question “Why do you want this job?” This is not only a fine opportunity, but this company is a place where my qualifications can make a difference. As a finance executive well versed in the new stock options law, I see this position as made to order. It contains the challenge to keep me on my toes. That’s the kind of job I like to anticipate every morning. I want this job because it seems tailored to my competencies, which include sales and marketing. As I said earlier, in a previous position I created an annual growth rate of 22% in a flat industry. Additionally, the team I would work with looks terrific. I well understand that this is a company on the way up. Your web site says the launch of several new products is imminent. I want be a part of this business as it grows. Having worked through a college business major building decks and porches for neighbors, this entry-level job for the area’s most respected home builder has my name on it. As a dedicated technician, I like doing essential research. Being part of a breakthrough team is an experience I’d love to repeat. This job is a good fit for what I’ve been interested in throughout my career. It offers a nice mix of short- and long-term activities. My short-term achievements keep me cranked up and the long-term accomplishments make me feel like a billion bucks. I want this job selling theater tickets because I’d be good at it. I’m good at speaking to people and handling cash. I would like a job with regular hours and I’m always on time. Although some companies are replacing Americans with imported low-wage workers, you are standing tall. This company’s successful strategies, good reputation and values make it heads and shoulders above its competition. I’d fit right in as a counter clerk in your fine dry cleaners. I have observed that the counter clerk position requires competence at handling several activities in quick order — customer service, payments, bagging and phones. I like multitasking and, as a homemaker, I have a lot of practice in keeping all the balls in the air. The work I find most stimulating allows me to use both my creative and research skills. The buzz on this company is that it rewards people who deliver solutions to substantial problems.
- Whatever advice you choose to adhere to, make sure you keep it short and impactful. Don’t get caught rambling and have it ready to use. There’s nothing wrong with rehearsing before an interview, but don’t sound like the Terminator either once you’re in the room.