Think about the interviewing process as a sliding scale, where each of your answers to an interview question will either advance or diminish your candidacy. How you respond to the interviewer can be tricky, especially when the questions are problematic for you. Here are some thorny questions and alternative ways to respond to them.
Why are you seeking to leave your current job? Be ready for this question. Don’t talk about anything negative. Paint a positive picture, like, “My current job is in a maintenance mode. I’m looking for more responsibilities to broaden my scope so I have more opportunity to perform at a higher level”.
What are you most proud of in your prior work? The answer may or may not be on your resume. It’s a great chance to talk about things the hiring manager is looking for in a candidate: One of the top 5 items on the position description, a team leader or a technical expert. Make sure you have results that are measureable and can cite. Your chances of hitting the target are high.
What’s your 5-year goal? Prepare some realistic expectations that are achievable. Don’t space-out and mumble a boring script. If you understand what the hiring manager is looking for and why, focus on alternatives that fit their longer-term goals.
What’s your passion? The interviewer is looking for the things that excite you, because those are the areas where you excel. Think about the position description and the items that are of particular interest to you. Make it credible, like: “Getting involved with a group of co-workers and having the freedom to to figure out how to increase productivity or reduce costs that can add value to our departmental goals”.
How do you handle the “What would you do if….” questions? These questions are less about the answer than how you handle yourself. There usually isn’t a correct response. A rationale approach by talking about the collection of data, the generation of alternatives and the development of strategies is usually a safe course of action.
How do you resolve a disagreement? Usually they are looking for people, communications and problem-solving skills. A safe answer might be, “I try to find what the facts are and the assumptions that drive each position to discover the differences and similarities to ascertain a potential solution”.
What questions do you have of me? The interviewer wants to know what’s important to you. If it’s about the number of holidays or vacation time, you’re diminishing your interview. If you ask about the results expected in the first six months, you’re advancing your candidacy.
Your curiosity about expected performance is a great indicator to the interviewer that you are achievement and results driven. The hiring manager is interested in three things: Can you do the job? Can you perform at a higher level over time? Will you fit in with my “team”?
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