Most job interviews are startlingly similar. When you find yourself in the job-hunting cycle, deja vu becomes common. It can seem like you find yourself in the same room, talking to the same people, answering the same questions.
With that in mind, consider some of the most common interview questions and come up with appropriate answers. It can make the interview itself seem a little canned, but the goal is to avoid getting tripped up on the easy stuff.
Here are five popular job interview questions and some potential strategies for answering them:
Tell me about yourself …
This a common lead-in prompt. There’s nothing tricky about it, but you should still put some thought into your answer.
Don’t simply repeat your resume. You only have a few minutes to make your case as the company’s new employee. Your resume contains information about your basic background, so use this opportunity to go a little further.
What are your weaknesses?
The classic trick question. Obviously, you don’t want to go the Homer Simpson route and list your actual short comings (“it takes me a long time to learn anything, I’m kind of a goof-off”). But the other common move – trying to present a positive quality as a weakness (e.g., “I’m a workaholic”) – will likely prompt eye rolls.
Instead, be prepared to give a real example of a weakness but include steps you take to compensate. Things like: “I sometimes have trouble remembering details, so now I take copious notes on my phone when I get instructions.” You’re not perfect, but you know how to deal with the shortcomings.
Why did you leave your last job?
For many, this is a triggering question. Leaving a job can be traumatic and painful. As therapeutic as it would be to go off on your former employer, stay civil and even-handed when describing your previous work experience. Stay positive and concentrate on what you learned from your prior job.
Tell us about a time you handled a conflict at work …
One of the key pieces of information the interviewers will be looking for: Are you someone they can work with? The people in your new office will be spending a lot of time with you, and no one wants to bring in someone who stirs up conflict.
When recounting an experience, stick to an honest professional disagreement (rather than a personal conflict) and detail how you respectfully managed to leave all sides happy, while making the best decision for the company.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
The key to answering this question is to combine your career goals with the goals of the company you are looking to join. You don’t want to imply the job you are interviewing for is just a stepping stone on your way to bigger and better things. However, you don’t want to come off as lacking ambition or potential.
So, use this question as an opportunity to start a conversation about potential career advancement possibilities stemming from the position you are applying for. This is a good opportunity to turn the question around and find out more about the company.
And if you are having trouble coming up with an answer for this one, it might be time for some professional help. Working with a staffing agency can help you put your career goals into perspective and form a plan on how to achieve those goals. Contact LaborMax to get started today.