Original Article: https://recruitmilitary.com/resources/search-employ/march-april-2019

Are You Sabotaging Your Interview? It would be a stretch to say that the interview process is enjoyable. In fact, some people find it so exhausting or intimidating that they stay in a less-than-desirable position rather than find a better fit. But if you want to grow in your career, you will find that interviews are inevitable. Knowing how to give a thoughtful interview is a skill. It’s about putting your most professional self in the spotlight. When it comes to preparing for an interview, some questions that seem easy at first glance. While the stakes feel low on some of these, it doesn’t mean you should not put thought towards your answers, or simply “wing” it. The following three questions may seem simple and unimportant to you, but your answers could either sabotage your success, or they could open new doors for you. It all depends on how thoughtful you are in your response. Take a look at these “easy” interview questions, and how you can answer them thoughtfully and effectively:

Question 1: “Tell me about yourself.”

Bad Answer: “I grew up in Indianapolis and moved here when my spouse was relocated. We have three kids and two dogs. When I have free time, I enjoy working out or spending time with my family.”

Effective Answer: “I have a Bachelor’s degree in business. Since graduation, I have sought out positions that continue to strengthen my experiences and develop professionally. Through my previous work experiences, I have learned that my strengths include professional communication, creative thinking, and a strong ability to effectively multi-task.”

The trap most job seekers fall into is not considering this a “real” interview question. From the second you walk in the door, you are being interviewed. This basic introduction question sets the tone for the entire interview and often sends job seekers down the wrong path. Use it as an opportunity to discuss professional background information, instead of personal details. Think of this question as a chance to lay out your qualifications, career goals, and why you deserve to be sitting in this particular interview.  The improved answer above provides plenty of opportunity for the interviewer to ask follow-up questions, thus changing the dynamic of the conversation. As long as the interviewer appears engaged in your answer, provide as much applicable information as possible. Wowing the interviewer from the start is crucial; after all, first impressions are priceless.

Question 2: “Why are you looking for a different job?”

Bad Answer: “My current boss is a micromanager and we don’t see eye-to-eye. I also don’t like the workplace politics. Everyone there is a gossip. It is hard to work for a company that doesn’t see what is actually happening behind closed doors.”

Effective Answer: “My current job has been an excellent learning experience, but I feel that I have reached my capacity for growth there. Now, I am ready to more of a challenge and the chance to put new skills to work [if possible, be specific here], while I continue to learn and grow in my field.”

Bad-mouthing your current boss, colleagues, and company will NEVER work in your favor.  Even if you despise everything about your current situation, keeping things brief and positive will allow you to move on from this topic quickly and focus on what you have to offer. By talking down about a current or past employer, you may come across as not being a team player, that you don’t handle conflict well, and that you have a negative attitude.  Every tough employment situation helps you develop and learn new skills in working with others.  Dwell on the positive aspects. If this is a question you will have a tough time with, make sure to consider the best answer to this question before interviewing for a new job.

Question 3: “Do you have any questions for me?”

Bad Answer: “No, thanks.”

Effective Answer: “Yes. Thank you for asking!…”

Make sure to ask at least three questions to show your interest in the company and the available position. You should have these questions already prepared and also make mental notes of questions you have during the interview. This is not the time to ask about the salary range and/or benefits, unless the interviewer chooses to do so. Even if the interviewer provided all the information you could possibly need about this position, you still need to ask questions. Here are some of my favorites:

  • What is the best part about working for this company?
  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • What is a typical day like in this role?

Another way to show that you have done your research about the company is to ask about specific programs being offered with the company. For example, if the organization is actively involved in community service and that area genuinely interests you, ask for more information. The next time you interview, don’t let the basic questions be the stumbling blocks. With focused and well thought out answers, these general questions will pave the way for you to walk out of an interview with confidence.

Jenny Nichols is the executive director of public relations for MyComputerCareer and lives in Holly Springs, NC. She holds an advanced degree in Higher Education and Student Development as well as national certifications for resume writing, editing, career-coaching, and facilitating career development. She is happy to discuss any feedback or answer any questions about this content. Jenny Nichols can be reached at jennyn@www.mycomputercareer.edu.

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