classic questions


The classic questions You have heard them all before- they are clichés, and they are standard “Interview 101” type fare.  So then how come you don’t know how to answer them?  I can not tell you how many interviews I have conducted where I asked the question, “Why should we hire you?” and was met by a blank stare followed by some drivel about how it would be a better commute for the candidate.  Um….yeah. 

These standard questions are not simply clichés- they are commonly used, and the reason they are used is because the answers (should) deliver a lot of really good information to the interviewer.  You need to know what these questions are and you must have prepared answers for them.  These questions are your opportunity to sell yourself and ace that interview! Here they are;

  • “Tell me about yourself.”  This one is a zinger!  Recruiters will often open with this wide-open question just to see how you handle it.  What you need to remember in constructing your answer is that they are not asking about how many siblings you have, where you grew up or what your hobbies are.  In your reply you should tell them a couple qualities you possess that have made you successful in your career, give very brief examples of those qualities in action, then move into a statement about how those qualities and your successes would be a valuable addition to their company. 
  • “Why do you want this job?”  This question is the fastest way for an interviewer to see if you have done your homework.  Your answer to this question requires research because you need to be able to speak intelligently about the company within the context of the industry, perhaps mentioning some of their more progressive benefit policies, or their mission statement.  Cruising the company’s website will give you all the information you need to give them a solid answer to this question.  You can then draw parallels between what you’ve learned about the company and what your goals are, then tie go into a statement about your skills and qualifications that match what they are looking for in this position.
  • “What is your biggest weakness?”  The trick to answering this question is to be honest about a fairly harmless weakness, but go on to talk about how you’ve taken steps to consciously improve in this area.  For example; if you have not always been the best at delegating, you could then explain the efforts you made  to make sure you handed-off appropriate tasks to your subordinates and used the delegation process to facilitate training opportunities. 
  • “Describe a situation where a problem arose and how you resolved it.”  This question is one where you could really mess yourself up if you have not prepared and answer.  Nobody wants to watch you looking at the ceiling for 5 minutes while you say, ‘Gosh…I can’t really think of anything right now…’ over and over again.  You have to have at least 2 solid examples rehearsed for this one.  There are several concepts an interviewer is looking for in your answer to this question;  Attitude- do you launch into blaming someone else for a snafu?  Agility- do you recognize the issue quickly and take steps to remedy it, even if it’s not really your responsibility? Follow through- once you’ve resolved the issue, do you make sure that everyone who needs to be informed has been?  You don’t have to paint a picture of yourself as the hero, you simply need to show that you can think for yourself, you can be decisive in an appropriate way, and can take responsibility.