Workplace

Diane Stafford: Top tips to answer job interview questions

Job hunters often seek the Holy Grail of interviewing tips, the no-fail list of ways to ace the interview. Such a list doesn’t exist.

There’s no one-size-fits-all resumé, and there’s no single best-answer guide for answering common or tricky interview questions. But there’s a help list that comes close in “Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring.”

The book by Ford R. Myers, a career coach, suggests answers to interview questions, and I’m happy to share them, paraphrasing and cutting to fit this space.

Why do you want to work here? Answer by including information about the company to show you’ve researched it. Don’t just talk about your own skills. Tell how you can fill their needs.

What kind of person would you hire for this job? Summarize your “fit,” your qualifications for the job, without sounding too self- promotional.

What’s your dream job here? Describe general responsibilities you’d like to have, not by stating a specific job title.

What are your weaknesses? Don’t give them a negative. Say you can’t think of anything that would hurt your ability to do the job you’re seeking.

What do you expect from this job that you didn’t get in your former job? Another trap. Don’t say anything negative about former organizations or bosses. Just say you want broader responsibilities.

What do you see as your future here? Be general. Talk about growing in the job, contributing more. Don’t offer a timetable.

Are you considering other positions/opportunities/organizations at this time? Just say yes and leave it at that. If pressed, say you’re not at liberty to say, and you would give this organization the same consideration.

How does this opportunity compare with others you’re considering? Say it appears favorable, and you’d like to learn more.

What are your short-range and long-range goals? Short-range, say you want a position to apply your skills and experience to help the organization. Long-range, say you’d like to assume more responsibility and make greater contributions to the employer. Again, avoid stating any timetable.

So that’s a brief summary of Myers’ advice. Understand that many human resource officers and hiring managers have asked those questions and heard those answers. Some have heard the same recited responses forever, and they know you’ve been career-coached to give them. That’s OK. It’s better to show you’ve practiced responses than to blurt out negative information.

Myers’ list didn’t include another common question: “How much did you make in your last job?” Or “What do expect to make in this job?” Try not to state a specific number. It’s best to know in advance the pay range for the job you’re seeking, and say you’re comfortable with the compensation offered for the position.

I’d add one more suggestion for acing interviews, a broad directive: Be likeable. People want to work with people they like.

To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to stafford@kcstar.com. Follow her online at kansascity.com/workplace and @kcstarstafford.

  Comments