iPrep In Pieces

There has been a lot of discussion lately about stupid interview questions, blogs
and articles popping up all over the internet.  For the record, there are no stupid
interview questions because if the employer thinks the information gleaned from
the answer is valuable, then it counts.  If the interviewer is truly asking stupid
questions just to fill time, well, that’s probably not the best place to be working.

Common questions have been in the news feeds lately because some believe
them to be overplayed. Yet, interviewers will continue to ask them because they
believe the answers give them insight into the candidate.

Arguably, the most common interview question is:

Can You Tell Me About Yourself?

The answer is NOT about you personally.  This maybe the first question you get to
answer and it may set the tone for the rest of the interview.  Your personality
needs to be expressed in the answer but the content of the answer should be all
about why and how your experience would be a benefit to the potential employer.
State just the facts without a lengthy explanation. The follow-up questions, which
are sure to come, will get into the specifics.

They are NOT asking about your dog, your hobbies, or anything that is not job
related.  They want to know in as few sentences as possible why you are there,
professionally.  

And because this question is SO common, you must be totally prepared with your
answer.  Practice it, rehearse it.  If the answer to this question is too personal or
too vague or seems unprepared, expect to be eliminated.

Another elimination question is:

Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Or phrased another way is “Why Should I Hire you?”  Do NOT answer: “because I
need a job” or any other lame remark.  This is another opportunity for you to
express additional reasons why you are a fit for this position and how working
there will benefit you both.  Express your professional motives for wanting this
position.  

This is also a prime opportunity to show that you have researched their company
and are fully aware of their positive attributes.  Thanks to technology, employers
are expecting you to have researched their company and may eliminate you
should you fail to have done your homework.

Another overplayed question is:

What Are Your Greatest Strengths and/or Weaknesses?

Be honest and stay away from the phony answers that, historically, we thought
they wanted to hear. For example, your answer should NOT be that you are a
perfectionist or that you work too hard or any of the other overplayed answers.
The interviewer has a lot of experience in conducting interviews and they have
heard all the fluff answers.  Don’t take what is normally a positive attribute and
then make it a weakness by exaggerating it.   

Instead, keep your answer job specific.  This is a good time to mention a skill that
is required in the position description where you need additional training and then
explain how you have planned to overcome that.  For your strength, also select
something from the job description that you do very well and explain your
background or training as appropriate.

And the 4th most common interview question is:

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

The misconception about this question is that the interviewer is not asking for
specifics.  And, please don’t mention wanting their job, even as a joke.  That is
SO overplayed and will probably get you eliminated immediately.

What they are looking for is a pattern and a plan for your career.  Do you have
one?  Yes. Answer with the progression that your career has taken and how you
plan to continue learning new skills which will enhance your productivity.  
Everyone has had career progression.  You have learned something new at every
job you have had.  Build on the successes of your past as an indication of the
successes you foresee in your future.
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