Interview Skills: The Answers Recruiters Want to Hear

Posted February 20, 2015 by
young female applicant during job interview

Young female applicant during job interview. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Why do you want to work here?

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Whether you come from a career technical institute or whether you hold a college degree, these standard interview questions can be tough to answer. And though you may have heard them before, perhaps you’re not sure how to answer or why an interviewer asks them.

So here are a few tips and tricks to correctly answering a recruiter’s questions.

While answering any question, remember:

  • Be truthful: If you are caught lying or saying contradicting things, you’ll be shown the door
  • Be direct: Avoid long winded answers/stories. Get your point across quickly and clearly
  • Make a connection: Whenever possible, tie your answer to something you’ve stated before (such as your career objective or long term goal)
  • Determine the real meaning: Behind each question is an objective. Pinpoint it. The recruiter may be trying to figure out how you deal with difficult situations
  • Make it personal: Keep in mind that the interviewer has probably asked these questions a hundred times before, and is looking for a touch of the unique, the real person you are.

Tell me about yourself.

Real question: What are your career goals?

This is a common icebreaker so that you can provide a little history of yourself and it’s totally okay to talk about where you grew up and how big your family is. But the real reason for the question is so you can mention your career goals and ambitions. For example, “Earning a managerial position” or “starting my own marketing firm.”

Why are you looking for a new job?

Real question: What has brought you to this interview?

While the truth may be that you need a better salary or even that you were fired from your last job, your answer should be diplomatic. The interviewer wants to specifically know what has led you to their company, so possible answers could be:

-“My career goals were not met at so and so as all managerial positions were taken.”
-“I was one of the many let go when the company downsized.”
-“I want to change the field I work in and learn more about this one.”

Why do you want to work here?

Real question: What can you bring to our company?

Your answer should explain why you chose their company and what you think you can bring to the table. This means you need to have researched their business beforehand and have knowledge of their current projects and the divisions within the company. For example, “I think I would make a great addition to your IT team because of my skill with computer network security,” or “I am aware of your plans to begin the XYZ project and I believe I could help it succeed because of my previous experience with the same.” By the end of the answer, the interviewer should feel like you could seamlessly fit in at their workplace.

Tell me about a conflict that occurred that had to be dealt with.

Real question: How do you handle difficult situations?

This can be a tricky one to answer if you don’t already have an issue in mind. If there was a disagreement in the past with a co-worker or your boss, describe how it happened and how it was solved.

DO NOT talk about your family problems!

Your answer could be something along the lines of “My co-worker and I sat down with our boss and talked till we reached a compromise.” If you haven’t a specific issue to talk about you can say, “I can’t think of a workplace conflict at the moment, but whenever there is a problem I take the time to think it through and clear any misunderstandings.”

Where do you see yourself in __ years/months?

Real question: Do you have a specific career plan/long term goal?

So you hope to be married and own your house, that’s great! It’s fine to share that with the interviewer but he or she is likely more interested in what you’re hoping to achieve during your career. If you’ve already mentioned your career goal in your other answers, take this opportunity to expand on it. For instance, if you are interviewing for a marketing job, you could say, “I’m hoping to learn as much as I can from this firm, so that I can someday set up my own marketing company. But mainly, it is my dream to lead a team/project.”

There are many ways you can answer the questions posed to you, but remember to go in prepared. Research the company and define your long term career goals. Be direct with your answers and be confident that they are true and you should have nothing to worry about.

Wish you truckloads of luck for the next interview!

Reference links:

Ray Holder is a freelance writer. Connect with him on Twitter.

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