Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 15th 2015 Contents B21
Tuesday, December 15, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
One of the most common questions
in an interview is "Tell me about your-
self." Actually, it is not even a ques-
tion--it is an invitation. It is an oppor-
tunity to share with the interviewer
whatever you think is important in
their hiring decision.
More importantly, it is your chance to
differentiate yourself. In most cases, most
of the standard questions allow the same.
Answering the Most Common Job Inter-
view Questions So You Stand Out
Here are some of the most popular
questions and my thoughts on how to
Where do you see yourself
in five years?
Employers don't necessarily care to hear
that you expect to climb the corporate
ladder and be a supervisor. If the job you're
interviewing for is not a supervisor, they
probably aren't concerned about your
management skills. You can share how
you've been a mentor to others and led
projects with little to no supervision. That
should indicate you have leadership poten-
tial.Focus on them: In five years, you should
have made a significant impact to the
company's bottom line. Think about how
you can achieve this in the role you're
interviewing for. In technology careers,
advancing your skills is important, too.
You should be able to share what areas
you want to strengthen in the near term
(but be careful that they are not areas of
expertise that the company needs now).
Why should we hire you?
This is a differentiation question. What
you want to tell them is: they'd be crazy
not to hire you.
Focus on them: You need to not only
share how you meet almost all the criteria
they seek, but also have two to three addi-
tional abilities that they might not even
know they need...yet. They need to know
you are a candidate who can meet their
needs now, but also be valuable for where
they want to go. Are they likely to need
another skill set as they grow as a com-
pany? Or maybe you have skills that you
noticed are in another job description they
are looking to fill; you can help out with
those deliverables until they find someone
(or be a backup to the person they hire).
Have you been down a path already that
they are currently starting? Having "lessons
learned" to offer them is a very strong
plus for a job candidate.
Why do you want to work here?
The answer to this question has
two aspects: the content and the
Focus on them:
Content --- Employers want to
know you feel you can fit in at the
company quickly. That means on
deliverables, but also company culture.
You'll likely have to do some home-
work to answer this one. You need
to understand the reasons why others
enjoy working there. Is it a great place
to advance your skills, have great
challenges to add to your resume, or
will it allow you to grow as a profes-
Delivery --- The delivery must be
genuine. If a hiring manager feels
you're just "telling them want they
want to hear," but don't mean it...
well, the interview is over in their
mind. They want to know this is not
just a job and paycheck. They want
to hear this is what you want to do
and the best place to do it.
What do you know about us?
This is actually a test. If you know
very little, it is an indication that
you are not very serious about work-
Focus on them: Candidates who
are really excited about the prospect
of working there have done their
homework. If you really want to
stand out, learn more than what is
listed on their web site. Do some
heavy research---perhaps find some
articles on the company that not
many would know about. It may
even come up in conversation spon-
taneously, and you can show them
a copy of the article (I have had this
happen to me).
How do people describe you?
Here's another opportunity to dif-
ferentiate yourself. Everyone claims
to be: a hard worker, good commu-
nicator, and team player. But how
many are a: problem-solver, game-
changer, leader in the industry? Be
creative, and have stories to back it
up. The interviewer will want to
know why someone thinks you are
one of these things.
Focus on them: You want to
present attributes that make you
sound like the go-to guy or gal
wherever you work. Even the stan-
dard answers can be taken a step
further to be more valuable:
Yes, they want hard workers, but
most likely that's commonplace at
their office. Maybe you work hard,
but also help others work fewer
hours (by helping them do their job
better or making their jobs easier).
Good communicators are every-
where. But this doesn't mean just
speaking well. It includes listening.
Do you hear things that others
don't? Do you understand things
quickly? Can you figure out what
people are trying to tell you through
other clues (body language, for
Being a good team player is
expected, too. But what does this
really mean? Getting along with
everyone? That's not hard to do if
you're a nice person. Pulling your
weight in the office? Again, expect-
ed. What have you done, beyond
your job description, that saved the
team from a disaster or helped them
make an impossible deadline? Have
you won an award for this?
What is your greatest
Your greatest strength is something
Focus on them: You have many
strengths, but pick the one they need
help with the most. Is it your expert-
ise in a particular skill? Is it your
ability to turn low-performing teams
into high performers? Share some-
thing that makes them think they
need to hire you...right now.
I hate the "greatest weakness"
question. Everyone knows it's a trap,
and everyone knows the candidate
is going to say something trite (pop-
ular example: "I'm a perfectionist").
When you give a real answer, you are
being genuine. You are admitting you
have some growth opportunities and
are not perfect. But you can include
that you already have a plan to over-
come this weakness through training
Some people even insert a little
humour in their answer---"I wish I
was better at tennis." You can, too,
if you feel like the interviewer has a
sense of humour. But, be sure to
quickly follow with a serious answer.
Showing you have a lighter
side is usually a good thing.
When can you start?
Be careful about this
question for a few reasons.
First of all, it doesn't mean
you "got the job." They may
be just checking to add that
to their notes. You must
keep your guard up until
you are in your car and
driving away from the
If you are currently
employed, you should be
honest about the start date
and show professionalism.
You should tell them you
would have to discuss a
transition with your current
company and see if they
require a two-week notice.
If you currently have a crit-
ical role, your potential new
employer would expect a
If you can start right
away (and they know you
are not currently
employed), you certainly
can say you're able to start
tomorrow. Sense of urgency
and excitement about start-
ing work at the new com-
pany is always a good thing.
Even the "boring, stan-
dard questions" can have
unique and useful answers.
You should think hard
about how you can differ-
entiate yourself from others
every step of the way dur-
ing the interview.
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