Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, and what makes it more difficult is the fact that you have to go through quite a few sit-downs before you actually land a job.
What’s even harder is the fact that there’s no such thing as ‘getting used to’ interviewing for jobs. In fact, some companies will try to ask some ‘unusual’ interview questions just to see how creative a person can be.
But in general, no matter how creative the interview questions are, there are still some queries that all companies ask their potential employees. That’s because your resume can only show what you can do, they don’t show who you are and if you’re going to be a good fit for the team.
You can learn more about the most common questions interviewers ask applicants and why they ask them these questions in the first place.
“So, tell me about yourself.”
This is more than just an icebreaker. Prior to you sitting down in the interview room, the interviewer already knows quite a bit about you: from your accomplishments in your CV to the data they’ve mined from your social media accounts.
While your technical skills are obviously important, employers also need to know whether or not you’re a good fit for the team and the company culture. Interviewers can usually gauge a person’s personality from how they answer this particular question. Throughout the interview, the interviewer will be evaluating not just your answers, but how you answer them.
By telling them more about who you are as a person, your experiences, the kind of life you lead outside the office, you’re giving your interviewer context as to who you are and why you’re the way you are. It’s also a good way to build a human connection with a potential employee and it allows them to see if your lifestyle can be a bane or a boon to the job at hand.
you’re asked this, your interviewer wants to know what your life priorities are and how you’re handling it, and how all of that affects the way you’ll be working if they choose you. So be as honest as you can be.
“What is your biggest weakness/What are your biggest weaknesses?”
There’s a reason interviewers ask this, and it’s not just to call someone out on their bull. You see, I’ve worked as an interviewer for over 20 years, and I’ve gotten so many plastic answers to this question that I can categorize them into three:
- I have no weaknesses
- My weakness is actually a strength
The “I Have No Weaknesses” applicant is pretty much lying, and I would usually end the interview right then and there. What’s the point? By far, this is the worst thing you can do in a job interview.
As for the “My weakness is actually a strength” answers, they’re not so much lying to me more than they’re lying to themselves. I would usually poke around some more, but answers like these always put me on the defensive.
As for the people who give a joke answer like chocolate, well, if it’s a joke answer I’ve never heard of, I’ll probably keep the interview going! Good humor, after all, is an advantage in the office (when moderated).
The reason interviewers ask this question is not to test how well you can hide your weaknesses or to test how truthful you’re being: rather, we’re trying to figure out how well you can introspect, how cognizant you are of your shortcomings, and whether you’re willing to take the necessary steps to improve.
“What’s Your Work Style?”
A work style is a person’s specific way of organizing their workflow and how they produce output. Each person has their own, unique work style, but in general, they can be classified into 4 categories:
- Logical: this is a work style that favors analysis and linear-thinking, people of this work style are often data-oriented and highly attuned to the technical side of any project.
- Organized: a work style that focuses on being extremely detail-oriented, following highly planned and sequential workflows, and keeping all data compartmentalized for easy access, whether it’s organizing your desk space or your hard drive.
- Supportive: an intra-personal work style that is highly expressive and geared towards being more emotionally-oriented with producing work.
- Big-picture: a work style that is integrative, focused on long term solutions, and ideating towards larger goals.
Being asked this question is a lot like being asked what your weaknesses are: it’s not so much that we want to know what your work style is, we’re looking at how good you are at self-assessment and how well you can adjust your particular work style to different working environments.
“What is your biggest professional achievement?”
This might sound like an invitation to brag about being an exceptional employee, but actually, this question is all about assessing the relevance of your expertise to the position you’re applying for.
If an applicant, who is applying for a position in HR, says that their biggest professional achievement was improving the logical input/output process of proprietary AI they built in their previous company, I would think that, while impressive, it’s not exactly relevant to the position they’re applying for.
Does this mean I’m going to reject them? Absolutely not, but it will open up more avenues of questioning, such as why they think their experience is relevant to the position, or more simply, why not just apply for a position that’s more relevant to their experience.
“Is there anything you want to ask me?”
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes an applicant can make is treating the interview as a one-sided conversation. In reality, applicants should actively participate in a conversation with their prospective employers. If an interviewer asks this, it’s not just empty platitudes: they’re curious to know what exactly your concerns are about the role you’re applying for, and whether or not you think you’ll be a fit.
This question is a great opportunity for applicants to ask more about the job, or what the company culture is like, or heck, you can even ask about benefits and salary.
Again, job interviews are conversations, and you need to have input if you want that conversation to be more productive. This is true not just for job interviews, but for enhancing your life in general. And at the end of the day, always remember: you need to go through tons of interviewers, and while each rejection might sting, it’s never personal and it’s rarely a reflection of your talents and your achievements.