More often than not, as interviewees most people don’t have a clue why an interviewer is asking a particular question; or how answering it may affect being hired or not.
If you’re headed into an interview you expect the usual questions like – Why do you want to work here? Tell me about yourself. And – What is your greatest weakness? Instead, today hiring pros are asking questions you may never have been required to answer in the past; and certainly didn’t even know would be on the usual list of questions asked.
Since there are a variety of questions you may be asked, let’s break down 3 and discuss why the interviewer is asking them; and what they hope to learn about you.
Before heading to the interview:
1) Research the company you’ll be interviewing with; discover what type of culture it is. 2) Check out the ad for the job and find the keywords used to describe what the requirements are. 3) Write down your own skills and expertise which match those requirements. 4) Formulate several statements you’ll present.
1) Describe your work-style:
While this is a popular question, many interviewees don’t understand what the question means nor how to effectively respond to it. To many it sounds vague. And in response most say ‘I’m laid back’. Guaranteed no interviewer wants to hear this. Some even offer to describe their likes and dislikes; also not what an interviewer wants to hear.
What they are interested in is how you work. Will you be capable of performing the job they’re interviewing for? This question can also help determine whether you’ll fit into their culture. For example, it’s an active job site, people coming and going; it’s essential to work fast and accurately – yet to optimally perform your job.
‘I’m extremely flexible; everyone I work with will agree. Having worked on a variety of busy projects, at my current job, has helped me adapt to each. In general, I take it one project at a time, working quickly and diligently on each until completed. However, if another important project comes up, I can skillfully move on to working on that until I can return to complete the previous project. In general, all my projects require collaboration; however I’m able to work independently as necessary. Although I’m a driven worker, my clear communication helps, and encourages, the team to perform at the highest level.
My boss says I’m the most organized person she’s ever worked with. Being this well organized, I’m able to stay efficient and keep up on projects. Plus, my organizational skills allow me to successfully juggle several projects at once. Others like to collaborate with me saying they appreciate my organizational skills. I also take time to check in with my boss to update her and determine if there is anything else she requires or issues which have arisen on which I want her feedback. This open communication allows me to effectively complete projects and work collaboratively with others.
2) Describe yourself in one word:
This can be a difficult question to answer since you may have several descriptive words you could answer with. Only one of which the interviewer will be satisfied to hear. Remember, every interviewer’s job depends upon hiring the best person for the job. Crazy as it may sound, this is question which may be asked as a way to ‘get inside your head’ to determine whether you would be a ‘good hire risk’. And many a good candidate was eliminated because they offered a poor or questionable response.
Before responding take a moment to consider the job and it’s requirements.
‘Dynamic would be the one word I’d use. Because I’m able to change, quickly, as necessary; I adapt. And do whatever is necessary to succeed.” Dynamic is a good, all-purpose word which should resonate with an interviewer.
Other good descriptive words – depending upon the job are – Strategic, Responsible, Motivated, Dedicated, Flexible, Creative, Reliable, Honest, Dependable, Focused, Steady, Fair, Enthusiastic.
3) Have you ever been on a team when a team-member wasn’t pulling their weight? If so, how did you handle it?
This is a behavioral question; one many interviewers like to ask.
Regardless where you are – at home or work – working with someone or others is necessary. And highly likely you have been in a situation in which someone did not rise to the occasion and do what was required. This is a case in which saying you yelled at the slacker, insulted them or openly disciplined them in front of others won’t help you get the job. In fact, it’s likely to get you eliminated.
Your best bet, say hiring pros and psychologists, is to state what you did to focus on your own job. If you were able to come up with ideas to make the situation run better, but didn’t insult the slacker by stating it was because of them you came up with this plan, all the better. In short, focus on yourself, your input and how it was appreciated.
If you carefully frame your words, you can tell the interviewer ‘Once I completed my job, I went to my supervisor to ask what else I could do to help complete the project’. Also, if you finished your work and saw the individual everyone was calling a slacker still moving at a snail’s pace, perhaps you asked if you could be of assistance; and went on to help them out.
Regardless the situation, never make statements like – ‘I reported them to my supervisor; they’re lazy.’ Nor, ‘I went up to them and told them how they were (slow, lazy) slacking off and how they needed to ‘step up’ for the team.
Bottom line – never, ever bad-mouth a supervisor or co-worker. This will, most assuredly, get you eliminated from the running for the job you’re interviewing for.
* Be prepared; carefully phrase your words.
* Be brief; don’t ramble on; it won’t help you. In this case less is more.
* If possible, provide an example.
* Beware of using overly firm statements. Like those starting with ‘I never’, ‘I won’t tolerate’, ‘I always say…’ for example.
Jean L. Serio CEIC, CPC, CeMA