By Agella Kevas
Don’t you wish your job search could be like running the bases on a baseball field? You come up to first base; this is when you forward your resume and cover letter for an open position. You are feeling good. You slide into second base by completing a successful telephone interview. As you reach third base, you are getting a bit tired now — you have an interview! Your heart is racing and you are short of breath. Can you make it? You see home plate up ahead. But before you make it home, you have to answer some difficult questions.
Have you ever been in an interview and all is going well, but then you are thrown a curve ball with a challenging question? Here are some of those difficult questions, with suggestions from the team coach on how you can answer them.
• “Tell me about yourself.” That dreaded question! What are they really asking? Do they want to know about my family, how I like to spend my free time or what I love to do? No, not really. Interviewers want to know why they should hire you instead of other applicants. This is the time for you to come up with a “commercial” that grabs the interviewer’s attention. Briefly highlight your experience and accomplishments, and most important, explain why you are qualified to do the job. Do not give a rundown of your previous employers; they already have that information from your resume.
• “What do you see as your greatest weakness?” Hmm. Do I acknowledge that I am not a morning person and have them wonder if I will get to work on time? Do I tell them that I don’t have any weaknesses (and who doesn’t)? You have to come up with a reasonable answer to the question. The best way to answer is to state a former weakness, but turn it into a positive. For example, you can say: “Early in my career, I wasn’t so good at delegating work. I’ve learned through experience that delegating improves team buy-in, and employees can often find valuable and creative solutions because they are closer to the work.”
• “Why did you leave your last job?” or a variation on this: “Why do you want to leave your current job?” My favorite answer to this question is that I am looking for career advancement (this shows how proactive I am.) Never complain about a previous or current employer!
• “What is your five year plan?” Big question. Do I tell them that I want to get married and have kids? Do I tell them that I want their job? No! Just say that you are interested in working for the company where you can help them grow through accepting greater challenges and more responsibility.
The key to answering these tricky questions is that you need to be prepared. Make a list of these and other common difficult questions, and think of good answers. Maybe a family member or friend will role play with you, posing the questions in random order and even throwing in some you may not have expected. If you practice answering these questions at home, when the time comes for the interview, you will be able to hit that curve ball out of the park and make it to home plate!
By Agella Kevas, Team Manager, JCS Career Center
JCS offers a full range of career services. For more information about the JCS Career Center click here or call 410-466-9200.