Questions in a job interview

Questions in a job interview

How to answer the most common questions in the interview

You've decided to start looking for a new job! You've written a CV, sent it to several ads, phone calls have come with suitable proposals (and a few less suitable), and you have at last been invited to the first job interview. We have collected for you five questions that it is reasonable to assume you will be asked in the job interview. They seem to be trivial and simple, but in fact they require preparation and prior thinking in your part. Here are a few insights that will help you to cope with them.

1) Tell me something about yourself

This is apparently an easy and simple question, the answer to which is intuitive. However, in fact it's a question that demands so much from you: focusing, accuracy, fluency, creation of interest and curiosity. This is a question that generally appears at the start of the interview, and that demands that you describe yourself in a minute or two. This answer creates the initial (and fairly decisive) impression of the interview. Try to think what you wish to present as "the first impression" and where you want to lead the interview: a little personal background, your prominent experience, and what are your aspirations as of now. Think of the answer as headings of the interview itself − the interviewer will wish for details of points that arose in this answer.

2) What are your weaknesses?

We are all human, and we all have weaknesses. Try to choose one or two real vulnerabilities of yours (preferably those that are less critical for the job) and even more important − how you cope with them. For example, "I've found that it's difficult for me to work under an excessive load and I tend to "get lost", and in such a situation I make sure to assign correct priorities to tasks by means of orderly lists". The interviewer learns from such an answer that you are aware of yourself and of your limitations, and even more important − you are in a process of learning and coping and not of flight and repression, and this testifies to a pattern of facing up to difficulties and challenges. A small and unavoidable tip − never regard perfectionism as a weakness and don't try to turn strengths into weaknesses in a sophisticated wording.

3) Why are you the best candidate for the job?

Most people aren't prepared for this question. It is direct, it is part of the considerations of salary, and it demands from the candidate to be "full of himself" − and this isn't natural for everyone. Don't reply that self praise is no recommendation, because a job interview is exactly the situation in which you must praise yourself. Be prepared in advance − think of your specific uniqueness that is relevant to the job − such as your experience, the skill required from you in previous jobs, your ability to work in such an environment, the independence required from you in your last job − everything that makes you unique and stand out relative to the other job candidates. For example, "I worked in small companies in which everyone was significant and a lot of independence and initiatives was demanded from me, and I was responsible for a large part of the work process", or "my experience comes from large companies and consequently I am experienced in working with many functions simultaneously". If you are relatively unexperienced or if you don't have the specific experience required for the job − turn this into an advantage. For example, "In this specific field I don't have a lot of experience but I've accumulated experience in other worlds and I have the motivation and desire to learn in order to succeed".

4) Where do you see yourself five years from now?

This is apparently a simple question. Most of us have aspirations, wishes, and long term plans − so what's the problem in listing them? Most of us also think that the wish to develop and advance is positive and desirable − what employer doesn't want candidates who wish to advance and develop in the organization?

It's true that it's important to present aspirations and the wish to advance, but it's better to leave the wish as a general aspiration and not as a specific one. The employer hires your services for a specific job, and it would have preferred that you cope with the job for a long time so that it will benefit from the output of your work.

If you indicate aims and a timetable such as "to advance in a year or two to a managerial position" or "to enter the field and expand", the fear may arise that you are not there to stay. But if you give an answer such as "I have aspirations to develop and advance, but at this stage the current position interests me because…" you create the impression of a potential employee who is obligated to the job but who is capable of advancing and developing in the organization.

5) Do you have further questions to ask us?

Even if you don't have any questions, try to prepare in advance a question or two that may be relevant. This indicates your seriousness in the process, your interest in the job and in the organization, and a "connection" to the recruitment process. This may be a deep question regarding the job itself (what are the work interfaces, to what extent does the job require such a skill) and it may even be a question regarding continuation of the process or the timetable expected for recruitment.