More often than not interviewees don’t have a clue why an interviewer is asking certain questions nor how to respond. Or – how answering a particular question may affect being hired or not.
However most interviewees do know the following questions will almost always be asked:
* Tell me about yourself.
* Why do you want to work here?
* What is your greatest weakness?
* Describe your work style.
Of those statements and questions the one considered most important is ‘Describe your work-style’.
Although seemingly clear, this is a statement many interviewees don’t understand and often have difficulty responding to. Unfortunately, not clearly responding to this statement can do a variety of negative things:
* Shorten or end the interview quickly.
* Place your resume low, or at the bottom, of the applicant list.
* More than likely you won’t be considered for the job; your resume tossed.
The second, and similar, question which is frequently asked is – ‘Tell me about yourself‘. As an former Senior HR pro, I can tell you this is an important, must-be-asked question. However, it often sets applicants off on a tangent; causing them to inappropriately respond with statements like –
* I’m laid back.
* I’m easy going.
* I do my job; do what I’m required to do.
Others may launch into a list of hobbies and personal information – describing their current life – in detail. Information which may do little to show off your expertise, skills or strengths. Or, in short, to show you are well qualified for the job at hand.
These questions are asked, statements made, because the interviewer is interested in facts about how you actually perform your current job.
This is a time when an interviewee can brag a little; mention some of their achievements and successes, for example.
Yet while ‘bragging’ is expected, many interviewees are unable to ‘boast’ about themselves. Making it difficult for the interviewer to delve into their work life enough to make a decision about whether they can do or fit the job. Since a resume or LinkedIn Profile can only tell the bare essentials, it’s necessary to head into the interview prepared – and relaxed enough – to speak about your accomplishments, performance and successes which should – within reason – comprehensively detail your current or similar past jobs. All of which should plainly reflect your ability to perform the job.
Aside from the inappropriate statements above, interviewers don’t expect you to reel off every skill and type of expertise you possess. They’re looking for specifics; stories of actual work you’ve performed which show and tell your grasp of the job and whether you know how to handle it.
Furthermore, know this statement means far more than whether you minimally meet job requirements. It’s asked to elicit your actual skills and abilities as well as your strengths. An interviewer wants – expects – you to talk about your day to day job activity, your ability to perform the job at top capacity, to think on your feet, to manage the job – to manage people – to optimally communicate, for example.
Aside from telling them about your expertise and skills, your response is also telling them whether they should hire you or not.
Here’s a statement made to elicit what your work-style is:
This is an active job: To the company this means:
* Employees, and perhaps others, are busily working; perhaps coming and going at various times of day in what would be your work area. Meaning – there’s always the pressure to perform nimbly and efficiently; to interact and communicate well with others. This type of job usually requires quick thinking. It’s essential to work fast and accurately, yet optimally perform the job. In short, there’s much to be accomplished daily.
Here is a solid Response Example:
‘I’m extremely flexible; everyone I work with will agree. Working on a variety of busy projects, at my current job, has helped me adapt to a faster paced work schedule. In general, I take it one project at a time, working quickly and diligently on each task 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.”
This statement clearly lays out:
Your work style, how you handle projects and adopt as necessary. Although working quickly you are also working efficiently. And – without issue – willing to move to another project as necessary. These are all statements an interviewer wants to hear; especially when interviewing for a busy, active job which requires fast thinking and quick changes.
With this response it’s also important to follow up with a statement about your ability to communicate with others. For example:
“All my projects require collaboration but I’m able to work independently as necessary. Although I’m a driven worker my clear communication helps and encourages the team, or ‘my co-workers’, to perform at the highest level.”
These are all good responses an interviewer wants to hear. And it’s highly likely they will place you at, or near, the top of their hiring list.
The next important question an interviewer – is guaranteed to ask is – ‘Tell me about yourself’. It’s asked of all interviewees.
Here’s a solid Response Example to ‘Tell me about yourself’:
Lead off with your top, most used, skill. This should be a skill you are known for, people refer or defer to you when it comes to this skill. Your boss even lauds your expertise. Use this to impress the interviewer right out of the gate.
‘My boss says I am the most organized person she’s ever worked with. While I am well organized, I am able to stay efficient and current with my projects. Plus my organizational skills allow me to successfully juggle several projects at once.’
A well- organized individual – like you – is an excellent fit for a job which not only requires a high level of organization but for leadership positions if your experience qualifies you. Not only that, most jobs require good organization skills and interviewers always appreciate hearing this statement from applicants – it’s a solid response to the ‘Tell me about yourself’ statement.
Use of words and phrases like ‘efficient’ and ‘current with projects’ adds to what they can expect from you and further encourages them to add you to the top of their hire list. In fact, whatever job skill is stated first – in a job ad – you should know that is the top skill they’re looking for in a candidate. This is a ‘must-have’ skill. And very important to state this skill – first – when the statement – ‘Tell me about yourself’ is made.
Here’s another good Response Example:
“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, work collaboratively with others and still stay well-organized.”
Any of these statements will plainly explain and leave no doubt about your work style. The fact you take time to check in with your boss shows you take your job seriously and are accountable. These are soft skills. Two of which all companies rate highly on their ‘must-have’ list.
You may also be asked to share something you are passionate about. This usually means speaking about something you do outside of work, or a hobby.
The response you provide can also be telling.
For example – you are a long distance runner, enjoy working out, like trying new organic foods. These all point to a healthy and energetic person. On the other hand, you may be an avid reader, like to research various historical scenarios, enjoy solving crossword puzzles or brain teasers. These things help showcase your intellectual leanings. Perhaps you volunteer with several local groups. For example – your son or daughter’s soccer group; the local Best Friends animal rescue group, your church. This helps demonstrate your seriousness of character, and commitment to your local community.
Many of the statements above also speak volumes about your work style.
Each effectively answering the statement ‘Tell me about your work style.’ Or ‘Tell me about yourself.’
Here’s 10 active keywords – included in the statements above – invaluable during an interview:
* Clear communication
* Skillfully move on.
* Juggle several projects.
* Work collaboratively
* Work on a variety of busy projects
* Open communication
Called ‘active keywords’ they are far more engaging and descriptive than boring words such as led, did, worked. These are words which can pull their weight when it comes to helping you rise to the top of an interviewer’s hire list. Be sure to integrate several – as appropriate – into your interview presentation when asked ‘Tell me about yourself’.