Dodging the common questions

One of the common problems which most applicants face when it comes to interview is that they do not know what to say. There are so many options out there that it is often hard to come to the right conclusion regarding what seem to be an apt thing to say.
Here, we are hoping to give you some genuine tips pertaining to some of the common interview questions which we believe should come in handy for you. Of course, the end result depends on a lot more factors, but it never hurts to prepare, does it? Just make sure you prepare long and hard to stop your unemployment. Each day you spent in unemployment, you get closer to becoming unemployable. You need to know and learn how to find a job. From the linked words you can visit the famous LIG program. If you don’t get good at it, you won’t have enough job interviews to attend to.

Anyway, let me continue;
The SWOT analysis
Even before your interview, you should definitely carry out your SWOT analysis. This is really important because until and unless you are aware of your strength and weakness, how are you going to channelize it for your good?
It has been mostly seen that people tend to be ignorant of their weakness. What you need to understand is that it is not wrong to have a weakness, but it is wrong not to know what it is. Having a weakness isn’t something to be ashamed of. In fact, one of your biggest strength could be the knowledge of precisely the things you are weak at. This knowledge can help you overcome your weakness and steadily convert them into your strength.
This is why when an interviewer asks you about your strengths and weaknesses, do not sugar coat. While we won’t encourage you to list a major fault as a weakness as this can surely thwart your interview selection, but at the same time, you should be willing to list such weaknesses which can be improvised with time. Being honest and smart is the need of the hour. You should not try to dupe your interviewer because he had walked in your shoes before and therefore he knows how the mind works.
The temporary role
Another common question which features in the interview is, ‘where do you see yourself 5 years from now’. Now, everyone knows that life is unpredictable, so, what is the purpose of asking this question? Do you really think your interviewer is interested to know that you would like to have two kids; a great wife/husband and a bank balance which lets you plan luxurious vacations at the drop of a hat? Certainly, no. So, the sole aim of asking this question is to see your willingness to be a part of the firm in the long run.
Having short-term employees is detrimental for any firm. The company spends a great deal of time, effort and resources to train the different employees and then when they are fully adept and later decide to leave, the company has to start the whole process again from scratch.
So, you should show your willingness to stick to the same job but at the same time, mention that you would like to diversify your roles and responsibilities, take up challenges and grow as this is the only way to avoid stagnation at the workplace.
These are some of the smart ways which are sure to work. It is only when you are willing to understand what your interviewer actually wants to hear what you will be able to come up with smart replies which can improve your selection chances.
Of course, your interviewer might ask you a hundred other questions. Use your wit and skill at that time of the hour and try and answer in such a way that your interviewer is bound to be impressed. The bottom line here is to be calm and stay professional. It should do the trick.

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Tell Me About Yourself

Just like any other skill, the secret to acing an interview is practice. The more you do it, the better you get. Unfortunately, nobody really likes to be interviewed over and over. Most applicants aim for hitting the bulls-eye (getting the job) on the first try, even though its unrealistic. Even getting just one job offer usually entails going through more than one interview. Its therefore important to do it right.

That said, it’s not wise to just show up for your interviews and hope for the best. What you should do is practice so that you can be emotionally and mentally ready for whatever questions that may be thrown at you. The good news is that interviewers usually ask the same questions over and over, and therefore, you have an idea what to expect in your interview. One of the all-time favorite opener is “tell me about yourself.”

Develop Your “Tell Me About Yourself” Response

This all-too common opening question is also the worst possible questions anyone can ask. At first glance, it should be easy. After all, who knows you better than yourself? And haven’t you been through this line of questioning in every first date you have ever been? Nonetheless, this query can be fear-inducing, mainly because you have within your power to turn yourself into The One or The Idiot.

At the same time, this question is too broad that it becomes overwhelming to answer. Where do you begin? What should you include? How long should your pitch be? Since you know interviewers are bound to ask this, take the time to reflect on your answer.

Points to Ponder

Consider the following bits of information before deciding what you want to share about yourself:
– Where you are originally from and if you have moved since then, how you came to be where you are
– A summary of previous employers
– Type of work you want to do
– Educational credentials
– Hobbies or interests
– What other people say are your strengths and a story to prove your point
– Something interesting or unusual about you
– Why you are interested in the job you are applying

Then, write a few sentences on each topic. To put order to your thoughts, use note cards for each of the topics above. Once you’re finished, study which ones you want to include and the order in which you want to say them. Put them on the table and turn them around to see which works for you. Keep it short, a few minutes should suffice so that the interviewer does not doze off in the middle of your speech. When you think you have the perfect formula, practice them until you can deliver it in your sleep.

Tailor Your Response

Every interview is unique and therefore, you should just not spout the same answers again and again. The exercise above is meant to make you think about yourself and be prepared to answer this oft-repeated question. During the interview, you can divide your response into 2 parts:

Part 1 – This part is simple. Tell them your name, the position you are currently holding, where you work, why you love the challenges in your work, and some of your strengths. Stay more factual in this part and keep it brief.

Once that is out of the way, you then turn around and engage the interviewer by asking – ” but what do you want to know about me that is relevant to what the company needs?”
Part 2 – Listen to the answer given to you. As the question is so broad, asking the interviewer will put focus on the direction of the conversation and shine the light on where it is going. This is why you should go through the exercise above because it is in this part where you have to think on your feet. You can draw your answers from your reflections.

Related Questions

When that question is asked, you can count on being asked about your experience and qualification. You can expect questions like:

– “What exactly are your duties in your current position?”
-” What are your most important qualifications?”
– “What kind of experience have you garnered over the years?”
– “What are your strong points?”

All of these can be answered almost the same way. Remember, what you should do is focus on the skills you have and not your experiences. It’s not what you have done, but who you are – this is the rallying point of your sales pitch. In other words, sell your skills, not your experience.


As you know every situation is unique. In the event that you get the job, the challenges that you faced won’t usually be duplicated in your new work. What is important, therefore, is that you have the skill to navigate through these challenges. If you highlight your skills, the interviewer will know what exactly you can do for the company and whether or not this is what he is looking for. You see, the unspoken question in “tell me about yourself” is “what skills do you have that my company needs?” This is what you should answer.

Answer with Achievement
Aside from highlighting your skills, you should wrap up this question by stating your achievements. These are not necessarily trophies or awards, but more of an evidence of the skills that you just mentioned above. Define them in terms of how the company benefited from it. And do so using the language of money. For example, you can say that “because of my management of the division, our revenue increased by 30%”. Money is the language of business. Whatever business they are in, or where ever they may be doing business, their main interest is to earn money. By doing so, you have answered a broad and vague question with a very specific response that highlights your skills and achievement.

Final Word

Do not be afraid of this seemingly all-encompassing question. Use this instead, as an opportunity to sell yourself. When you enter the door, you should be armed with details and specifics. Sure its a broad question, but that is not a license to deliver broad answers. Play it by ear. If the interviewer is showing a keen interest in your replies, don’t be shy to discuss your achievements. Now is not the time for modesty. But most importantly, always state the truth only, and do not ever “borrow” someone’s achievements.

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Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?


Where do you see yourself in five years time? This is a favorite question for interviewers to ask. And they don’t really expect you to know exactly where you are going to be in five years time however, this can give them an insight into where you want to be. This questions lets the interviewer understand your career goals and the path you hope to follow. Learning about this is important to the interviewers because they can get a deeper understanding into how motivated you are to do the job and whether you will work hard and stay with the company.
You’ve said that you are interested in the job and why you want this, so this almost acts as test for the interviewer to test that you truly do want this job for your career. If what you say your five year goal is, is completely different to the job you are applying for, its not likely that the interviewer will think you truly want the job position. Because of this you need to be careful when answering this question. If the hiring manger has any reason to believe that you aren’t really fit for the position or that you won’t stick around for long, they won’t hire you. After all its their job to find the right person and they want to do that well.
So, what should you include in your answer? I have collected a few pointers below for you.
• Keep the job in mind

First and foremost you want to keep the job you are applying for in mind. Don’t forget the point of this interview is to try and convince the company to hire you so you want to make sure you are answering each question about why you should get that specific job.
• Don’t be too specific
This is usually something you want to avoid when answering questions in a job interview. However in this case, its recommended to be fairly general, and you can get away with it, because no one knows where they are going to be in five years time. If your answer is too specific it could raise a red flag that your career goals don’t match with the position you are applying for, however if you leave the answer a bit more open, it can be interrupted in the right way.
• Talk about your long term career goals at the company you are applying for

Whether its directly or indirectly, you don’t want your answer to say that you job you are applying for will do for the entire but in five years you see yourself elsewhere. The company will be spending time and money on you if you are trained and hired, so they want to ensure the investment is worth it and that you are also in it for the long run. Think about like this, someone who is looking to settle down in a relationship isn’t going to want to be with someone who is interested in dating a new person every week.
• Be enthusiastic

You want to be enthusiastic when talking about your long term career goals, as the hiring manager wants someone who is motivated to do the job and do it well – not someone who is just there because they can get a attractive pay-packet out of the it. Show you are actually interested in the job you are applying for. It’s also a good idea to do as much research into the company as possible too, this way you can get a rough understanding of the career path your job might have in the company and then you can give your answer based around this.
• Be realistic

Five years time is a long time in terms of your career path, and who knows what could happen? Some people make it from the bottom to the top in this time, however this is rare and when you are answering this question, you want to be realistic. The company wants to hire someone who is hard working and motivated to climb the internal career ladder, however answering this question along the lines of “I believe I will be a CEO” when you are applying for a starting out position, the interviewers will likely see you as cocky and even a bit arrogant. This could harm your prospects of getting hired.
• Don’t try to make it funny
Although answering “I see myself being your boss” may seem like a funny answer that will get a few laughs, the interviewers may not take this well. Yes, they may laugh – probably at the fact you were overly confident enough to answer like this – but they won’t take your answer seriously, and they may well feel that you don’t take the question seriously enough to answer it properly and really for interviewers and companies, this is an important question. It could also cause the interviewer to think that you are trying to avoid the question, and this may raise a red glad. Speaking of red flags…
• Don’t raise any red flags
Your true long-term goals may see you returning to education or even starting your own business. This is all well and good, nothing to be ashamed of, of course. However, for a company looking to invest in you if they hire you, this could raise a red flag. They don’t want to put in all the time and effort for you to take your skills elsewhere – particularly to the competition.
Now we have covered the points you need to think about in your answer, it is time to start to prepare. Remember that whilst this question is about where you want to be in 5 years, you are still in the present and at this time you are trying to convince the interviewer that you are the right person for the job. This question can really demonstrate why you are the best person for the job, and if the interviewer was having any doubts, your answer to this can help eliminate these. Its a really good opportunity to get your name on the ‘hired list’. The last bit of advice I can give you is to be confident and let the interviewer believe in you.

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Tell Me About A Time You Disagree With Your Manager?

Now this can be a tricky question indeed. You are sitting in your interview, acing all the questions that are thrown your way and really letting the interviewer know all your strengths and how you can bring your ‘A game’ to the job. Then suddenly, this question comes up. You are stumped. Or are you? This is a tricky question and interviewers are probably used to people struggling with, so if you can answer it with confidence it could earn you some extra points. Let’s look how you can give a successful answer to this question.
To begin with, we need to ask why the interviewer is asking you this question. Are they just trying to get some workplace gossip from a different company? Probably not. But what asking this question can teach them is about your communication skills. Disagreements happen, its a fact of life that not everyone will get on, all the time. But how you deal with these disagreements is detrimental. How you communicate and interact with your manager can speak volumes about you as a person and how you will fit in with the company if they were to hire you.
Here are some points you should include in your answer.
• Explain the situation
Explain to the interviewer what caused the disagreement. Don’t go into too much detail and relay the whole story as you would to your friend over coffee whilst bashing your boss. When you are describing what happened, make sure you do it in a way that is respectful. Showing respect is very important in the workplace, so even though you are talking about a previous employer, you should always be respectful.
• Be positive

When you are talking about the situation that occurred with your manager, make sure you sound positive. You don’t want the person who interviews you to believe you are holding grudges against the manager you had a disagreement with and you certainly don’t want them to believe this is the reason you left your old job. Make sure you come across in a positive light as this will help your prospects and the interviewer will appreciate that you can speak of a previous disagreement without being negative.
• Talk about what you have learnt from this

Explain how this situation with your boss has enabled you to be prepared to handle any potential future disagreements with coworkers. As mentioned above, the interviewers are aware that disagreements do occur so if you have the skills to handle any disagreements that could arise, this will be noted and may earn you some extra points.
• Diffusing disagreements

When answering this question you want to focus on the personality traits, previous experiences and skill set you have and explain how you have used these to diffuse the situation of disagreement. For example, you could explain that your ability to be mellow in these situations can help diffuse tension. This will give the interviewer insight into how you may diffuse any disagreements that could happen in their company if you were hired.
• Be honest
Interviewers are looking for honest employees and this a key opportunity to show you can be honest. Think about it like this – you have not just walked into an interview and started telling them about how awful your previous boss was and all the argument that happened, they have asked you specifically to describe a disagreement to them. All you need to do is remain professional when answering the question and your answer will be fine.
There are some thing you want to try and avoid when answering this question. I have collected these for you below.
• Do not speak poorly of your boss

This is very important when you answer this question. You do not want to bash your boss to someone who could be your future employer as this will not come across well at all and will definitely not work in your favour. Your interviewer did not ask what your personal issues with your previous boss are, but instead they want a professional answer to a question which is truly about how your communication skills hold up in times of disagreement. Remember you are in a job interview, not the playground!
• Don’t be overly modest

By this, I am talking about when you are discussing the diffusion of the disagreement, do not down play your role in this. It is the natural instinct for lots of people to be modest and avoid ‘blowing their own trumpet’. However this question is all about how you personally can handle disagreements – not how you boss or another coworker can, they aren’t here applying job, this is about you. So you really have to avoid the temptation to downplay your role, instead you need to let the interviewer know that you had key role in diffusing the disagreement.
• Don’t get wrapped up in the disagreement

Although the disagreement may have happened recently and it may have been a difficult one, try to avoid getting uptight when discussing it. The interviewer will be able to sense this and will know that you have not got passed this. As mentioned above, if they believe this, they may be inclined to believe that you still hold a grudge and that a situation similar to this may happen in their company if they hire you.
Now you have all the factors you need to build a great answer. The only other advice I can give you is to prepare, plan and practice. If you are ready for this question in the interview, you will be able to deliver a great response, rather than looking like a deer caught in headlights. Also, you don’t want to forget confidence. Any response given with confidence, automatically sounds more appealing – and thats before the interviewer has registered the words you are saying. If you are confident in your answer, then the interviewer will be too. They will be more inclined to believe in what you say and that you have the tools required to deal with disagreements in the work place. So take this advice and get ready to ace this question!

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How To Send A Thank You Letter?

One of the most common mistake of applicants is to consider the end of the interview as the end of the process. When the interview door is closed, they utter a sigh of relief, go home and wait for the phone call. While waiting is hard, at least it’s over.

However, this not the time to rest on your laurels, even if you think your interview was a roaring success. It can take days or weeks before interviewers can make up their mind. You have now the opportunity influence the interviewers and tip the scale in your favor. The interview may be over, but your interview work is not finished. It’s time to send a thank you letter to close the sale.

Snail Mail or E-Mail?

Sending a thank you note after an interview is your most important post-interview task. Weigh carefully whether you should use e-mail or the old-fashioned snail mail. The former can be useful when speed is of the essence, as when you know that you are last candidate interviewed and you know a decision is coming. The downside to e-mail is that its easy to scroll down and ignore your carefully worded letter. Snail mails on the other hand, are so archaic that receiving one would surely stand out in the mind of interviewers. So if you have the luxury of time, let the mailman do his job.

Four Steps To Thank You Emails

Whether by snail mail or e-mail, the process and the content of the letter will be the same. Take this as an opportunity for further communication and another chance to sell yourself. Write a letter consisting of at least 4 paragraphs that discusses each of the following selling point:

1. Thank the interviewer and tell him you much you enjoyed meeting him
2. Tell him how much you are looking forward to working for the company in the position you applied for and that you have the right skills and attitude to do the job
3. Mention the highlights of the interview and selling points (sell your skills!)
4. Close the letter by mentioning when you expect to hear the results, as established during the interview and your availability to come in for a meeting

Do’s and Don’ts

When drafting your letter as recommended above, here are some tips that can help you draft a thank you email that means business:
1. Your thank-you email should be a fresh communication, so avoid quoting your cover letter or resume.
2. Send the email within 24 hours after each interview. This way, the details are still fresh in your and your interviewer’s mind.
3. Address the email directly to the interviewer. If you were interviewed by a panel, send the email to the lead interviewer, then convey your thanks to the other members.
4. There are 2 diverging thoughts on whether or not you should send a thank you note to all the members of the interviewing panel. One is in favor of it, while the other questions the practicality. What if you miss out a person accidentally? The safest way is to send to all only if you are confident that you have the right names. If not, follow tip #3 above.
5. Don’t forget to thank the human resources manager (if you met him or her) and the department manager. They are most likely part of the decision-making process and it would be wise to put yourself in their radars. If not, you will still be working with them in the future, and a note would not harm your cause.
6. When drafting the third step, make a specific reference to something that was discussed in the interview. Chances are he spoke with a lot of people on the same position that you are applying. Referencing to your specific interview will refresh his memory.
7. Make sure that you are sending the thank you email using your personal account. Some people have been known to use their company email, and that’s just in poor taste. A common excuse is that they have no personal email. In this day and age, it’s easy to get one. All it takes is a few minutes of your time to register. Take the time to maintain a personal account. Every working person should have one, unless you plan on being unemployed for the rest of your life. Making this excuse only shows you’re lazy.
8. Do not forget to include all your contact information in your email.
9. Use formal business language and style when drafting your letter. While its an email, its not an excuse to drop the formality. 10. If you have a question that you forgot to ask during the interview, the thank you email is not the place to follow up.
11. But if you think that you left the interview feeling that you failed to answer or gave an incomplete answer, then you can mention it in the thank you letter.
12. Also, if after further reflection, you feel that there are important information that was not discussed in the interview, mention this in the email. Keep it brief and concise. Do not launch into a long-winded discussion and risk losing your reader’s attention. You can insert this right before step #4. If you think its important, suggest another meeting or at least say you are available for further discussion.
13. Make sure that whatever you mention in #12 above will contribute to closing the sale for you. In other words, it should convince the interviewer that you are worthy of being hired. If not, don’t bother putting it in. If you forgot about it, he probably did also.
14. Do not be tempted to send a separate letter even if you think that your omission is important. You will just come across as disorganized and absent-minded.

A lot of people refuse or fail to send one because they think thank you letters are cheesy. Some even think that it looks like you are begging for the job. But remember, what you are doing is selling yourself. And besides, courtesy alone is enough reason to write a thank you letter. Anyway, what is there to lose? At the very least, you managed to put yourself in the forefront of your employer’s mind. And if you don’t get the job, so what, you probably won’t see him again. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So go ahead, write a thank you letter.

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Why Were You Fired?

You know it’s coming: the question you have been dreading. “Why did you leave your last position?” Are you worried that it’s going to send up red flags because you were fired? With a little preparation, this doesn’t have to be a scary question. Instead, it can be an opportunity. Let’s look at why interviewer’s ask this questions and what the best ways to answer.

What is the purpose of the question?

Understanding what information a potential employer is hoping to gain will help you give the right answer. Of course, there are many reasons that a person would leave or be let go from a previous job. The interviewer is less interested in the specific reason and more interested in the circumstances surrounding why you left. This is an opportunity to share what you learned and to prove that contribute value to the company.

Having a positive response to this question is important. This will clue potential employers into your mindset. If the reason you were laid off was not performance related, that is easy to explain. You can just be honest about the company’s position that lead to you being laid off. You can highlight your accomplishments in your time there and move forward with the interview. If you were fired due to poor performance, you need to be careful with your wording.

Everyone makes mistakes. But, if you can’t learn from your mistakes, then you won’t be worth the company’s time. Your answer will reveal how you deal with conflict, mistakes, and criticism. Your answer should show them how you gained clarity. If you want them to take you seriously, be thoughtful about your answer.

Why were you fired?

Take time to consider what lead to you being fired. Was it your temperament? Did you lack skills to perform in a specific portion of your job title? Did you have a different vision than the project leader? Were you unable to keep up with the pace of assignments?

They want to know your weaknesses. Being honest with yourself will help you determine the answer that will put you in the best light. This is an opportunity to highlight your strengths and show understanding of your weaknesses. Weaknesses don’t have to reflect badly on you if you demonstrate an understanding of them.

If you understand your weaknesses, it will help you look for jobs that are the right fit for you. Does the job you are interviewing for allow you to lean on your strengths and give support to your weaknesses? Demonstrate an understanding of that and indicate that it is one of the reason you applied for the job. But, be weary of offering too many details. An interview isn’t the place to dwell on your faults.

Make sure you are applying for the right job

If the reason you were fired from your last job was because of a personal quality that was poorly utilized by your last employer, don’t make the same mistake twice. Use the interview as an opportunity to gauge if you are honestly what the employer is looking for and if you have the skills to complete the job. If you have the strengths to succeed at this job, explain how this job is a better fit for you. Be sure to speak respectfully about your previous employer. Having a respectful attitude will show professionalism.

How to use this question to your benefit:

While this question might break many job applicants, it doesn’t have to break you. In fact, the way you answer might help you stand out in the crowd. The most important thing to do is express that you have moved forward from the experience and that you are confident in your ability to tackle this new job. If you can show how that experience prepared you for this job, that is even better. But, be careful not to veer too far off course. Answer the question in a way that doesn’t lead into further discussion. If you can move on to other topics, there will be other opportunities to share where you excel.

There are a few skills that an interviewer will have heightened attention for when asking this question. They will be looking for honesty. If you made a mistake that got you fired, own it. Take responsibility for your shortcomings and don’t blame your previous employer for your circumstance. If appropriate, reflect on what you could have done better or why you didn’t fit there. Explain what you learned and why that makes you a good fit where you are applying. This will show that you are reflective and self aware which is an important skill in the workplace. Remember to be confident and focused on the present opportunity rather than defensive and concerned about what is already done.

To be as prepared as possible, there is one more thing that you will want to know. If at all possible, make sure you are aware what your previous employer would say. If your interviewer is going to be calling your previous employer, you need to prepare them for what will be said about you. Even though you want to minimize what happened, you need to be honest. Make sure that what you say doesn’t paint such a different picture that they are shocked by the other side. If they already have an idea of what your employer has to say, they will be more likely to be lenient about grievances that the employer may share. If you were able to leave your previous job in good standing, it may be a good idea to contact them and let them know that they may get a call and why this job will be better suited for you (again, in a way that expresses self-awareness, not contempt).

Keeping all of these ideas in mind will give you the confidence you need to answer this dreaded question. Take some time to reflect on your answer. Knowing it will not only prepare you for this question, but help you understand how to succeed at the job ahead of you. Don’t forget to practice your answer with a friend so that you can answer naturally when the time comes.

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How Do You Deal With Stressful Situations?

The Question

Another one of the very difficult questions in the array of psychological tests that now supplant standard interview techniques can seem simple at first glance, but at its core is fairly complex: “How do you handle stressful situations?” It can only be seen as pure irony that this question can be one of the most stressful to find an answer for, but there is a very good reason why you’re being asked, and it helps to understand this. As with many things in business and in life, knowing the reasoning behind a question’s asking can often be more important than the question itself.


Why Are They Asking

When we are told about work by our parents or our mentors for the first time as teenagers, the descriptions of the work-a-day world are as varied as the individual experiences of the people explaining it. Some tell us an idyllic tale of a career built from the ground up; forged in the gauntlet of hard work and perseverance. Others explain that there is little more to working life than having the will to get up each morning and march down to the office with no desire to gain more for oneself than the next paycheck, and the continuation of one’s lifestyle.


Yet one thing that is explained in almost every case is the simple and inescapable fact that all work brings a degree of stress, no matter how you spin it. No matter how happy you are at your job, and no matter how much you love the people you are working with. Whether it’s the job of your dreams or just something you’re doing to make ends meet, there will always come a point at which your work brings a special kind of headache. It follows then that any employer worth their salt would want to know if, and how, you handle yourself when things go wrong… because eventually they always do.


What Do They Mean By “Stress”


It must be understood that in any interview process there are things that an employer simply does not care to hear. The question of handling stress is, as many interview questions can be, very open to interpretation, and by nature it can be all too simple to wonder off on a tangent, and find yourself saying things that your potential employer not only doesn’t care to here, but things that may be outright damaging to your chances at landing the job.


“Stress” can mean many things, and even if a more specific qualifier is put on it, such as “stress in the workplace,” people can still take a turn for the unnecessary without realizing it. The “stress” that employers want to know if you can handle is the stress that is related to the job itself. Whether or not you got along with Andy from accounting is frightfully irrelevant. That is a completely different question that we will likely discuss at a later time, but for this question you will want to be prepared with something more than an office gripe.


Prepare Your Answer, and Don’t Open the Wrong Door


The key to acing any interview, and indeed one of the primary keys to success in all business, is preparation. Seeing around the bend, knowing what’s coming, and being ready for it can make all the difference in the world. This particular question though, has a few built-in pitfalls that can be easily stepped in if you over think… or over talk. You will want to think of a specific, work related issue. Not a general “working there was tough and I dealt with it every day.”


That will only say to your potential employer that you that you are either scared to answer, or that you didn’t care enough about the job to be stressed about it. Think of a situation that presented unique challenges; specifically a situation that others were not able to handle easily. Ideally you’ll want to think of something that presented a problem for others and that you came up with a solution for. It may seem off topic, but trust and believe that it is in fact what they are looking for.


Most modern, psychology-based interview questions are really a few more obvious questions wrapped into one. Can you deal with unique situations? Can you operate outside your comfort zone? Can you handle the pressure that accompanies this job? Can you keep your cool when it all hits the fan? You may have never been asked any of these things outright, but this is what your potential empower want and needs to know when considering you for a position; doubly so if you are after anything in management.


Beware the pitfalls though. Speaking about personal stress in the workplace is a different animal, and can very quickly descend into a rant about your own personal pet peeves if you’re not careful. As prepared as you may think you are and as much as you may have rehearsed, it’s easier than you think to wonder off course, and some skilled interviewers may even try to pull you off course in an attempt to get a better bead on your personality and its shortcomings. The number one rule here is to keep it about business; keep it about the work, the challenges it presented, and what you did to handle it. Do not get into personal feelings, issues with other employees, and under no circumstances refer to failings on the part of your management.


Buzz Words and Bad Words


Most who have kept in tune with modern business have heard of so-called “buzz-words.” These are words or terms that have been given special meaning in the business world, or words that have been supplanted with others to keep a more positive outlook. Using the word “opportunity” instead “problem” is one of the most common word flips on the market today. It’s tempting to try to throw out buzz-words in an attempt to impress a potential employer and there’s nothing particularly wrong with that, just don’t overdo it.


There are however some words that you should stay well away from when referring to stress in an environment. Refrain from sentences such as “that drove me crazy,” or “I couldn’t stand that.” Words like “stupid” or “silly” have an air of childishness to them that comes off more as finger-pointing. Instead stick to more subtle and less emotional terms. “Difficult” or “challenging” are terms that convey personal responsibility, and a desire to push past a tough issue. Your answer should be short, sweet, and follow this basic formula: What was a challenge that you faced during the course of your duties, what logic and hard work did you employ to find a solution, and what was the result of your solution. Keep to the path and keep your cool, and you may find yourself handling a whole new series of stresses at you your new job. Also be mindful that this question isn’t always asked in an interview, yet, can easily be asked in essays or tests as well. Uber analytics test is one of those tests along with Microsoft and Airbnb.

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Do You Have Questions For Us?

It’s a sure sign that the interview is almost over when the interviewer asks if you have any questions for them. Some applicants make the mistake of thinking that this is no longer part of the process and proceeds to slack off. They don’t realize the additional opportunity presented to them and simply don’t ask a question. Whatever you do, never ever say that you have no questions. It’s a signal to the interviewer that you are not interested in the job. You are also passing up an opportunity to find out some things you need to know to decide whether or not you want the job.

Additionally, Interviewers often judge candidates on the nature of the questions that they ask. For example, if you ask about hours of pay or details of leave entitlements can give the impression that you are a slacker. Interviews are all about selling yourself, and as any sales professional will tell you, questions allows the other party to verbalize their needs and desires. A good applicant is a good listener. He will bridge the gap between what he is selling (his skills) and what the other party wants. Here are the big questions (and some minor but related ones) that you should definitely ask an interviewer:

Question #1 – Had you had the chance to review my resume?

Believe it or not, many interviewers come ill-prepared. They rely on stock questions and wind up just winging it. You can’t blame them, between interviewing, deciding whom to hire and actually hiring, there’s little time to prepare for each candidate. Take note of the phrasing. You don’t want to come across as demanding. The use of the word “chance” communicates your understanding that he is busy, and “review” lets him know that you assume he has read your resume but has no opportunity to study it. You can then transform a challenge to an opportunity for you to present your qualifications. By offering to lend a hand, you come across as the solution rather than the problem.

Don’t be dismayed if the interviewer replies in the negative. Simply continue by saying: “Would it be helpful if I point out the highlights of my qualifications?” If he says yes, then give him a run-down of your skills. Conclude by asking if there is anything else he wants to know about your qualifications. This is the same answer to give in case the interviewer says he has read and studied your resume.

Question # 2 – What results do you want me to to produce?

This is the natural progression to the first question above. Now that you reviewed your qualifications for him, the next step for him would be to determine how you can fit into the organization. By asking this question, you show that you are interested not just in being hired, but in doing the job. You will also subtly shift the focus from you to what he needs. You send a message that this job is more than just a paycheck, but a means to be of service to the company, increase the productivity and solve their problems.

For those applying for managerial positions, you can show your interest in the company by further asking:
– Who are the members of the team and what are they like?
– Are there issues plaguing the team right now?
– What are the challenges facing the team now?
– Are there deliverables that you expect me (if hired) to deliver and what is the timetable?

If you are interviewing for part-time positions, you can ask any of the following questions:
– How will this position fit into the rest of the team?
– Are there other people occupying the same position, and how is it working out?
– Exactly how long is the contract and what are my deliverables?
– Is an extension likely? Will it be possible to join the company on a full-time basis?

Asking this line of questions allows you to insert yourself into the operations of the organization. The interviewer gets a glimpse of how well the fit will be if he gets you. This is a strategy often employed in retail industries. They let you examine the merchandise or sometimes even offer free trials in the hope that you realize that you need this product and “gotta have it”. On your end, you can assess the expectations of the employer. But do not tip your hand at this time. File away the information for future use. If you feel that the expectations are too much, you can use this later if and when you negotiate for your salary.

Question #3- What do you consider to be the ideal qualifications for this position?

After listening to question #2, round off the interview by asking this question. This will connect your skills to your prospective employer’s needs. If you’re lucky, the connection will be readily evident. Most of the time however, this may not happen. It is up to you then to draw a straight line between the two. Your objective is to guide the interviewer to this conclusion, and not push him into it. Nobody like’s to be forced into anything. Close the sale by asking “do you think I have the right qualifications for the job?”

On the other hand, if there’s a gaping hole between the two, do your best to bridge it. Be ready with specific examples of how you can answer the problems. If the gap is as big as the Gulf of Mexico, you’d be better off not drawing attention to it. Instead, focus on other things on his list of qualifications that is a fit for you. If there is just no way around it, respond as positively as you can. Make it an opportunity for growth and emphasize your eagerness to learn.

One final point: In case you are caught off-guard with the response, maybe it’s time rethink if this is the job for you. But don’t voice your thoughts out yet especially to the interviewer. The object of the interview is to excite the interviewer’s interest in you. Maybe there’s another position that is a better fit for you. Or he knows someone else who is looking for someone like you. All in all, his interest in you is something of value that may bear fruits later on.

In conclusion, do not ignore this portion of the interview. In the same way that you prepare your answers to their questions, you should also prepare your questions for them.

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What Are Your Weaknesses?

How to Answer Job Interview Question “What Are Your Weaknesses”

Job interviews are basically just conversations. But why is it a source of so much anxiety among job hunters? The answer varies, but many have indicated that not knowing what the conversation will be about is a source of stress for them. The good news is that interviewers just recycle their questions, so a little research and preparation will go a long way in soothing your nerves. One of the universal favorites is the question about the applicant’s weakness.

General Advice for Answering Questions

Let’s lay down the basics first before we delve into specifics. The question on weakness is not the only one you will answer during the interview, so here are some general advice to remember when answering questions in any interview:
1. Listen and understand the question. If you did not understand, don’t hesitate to ask. If the problem is the interviewer’s accent, ask him to repeat. Don’t fake it.
2. Control your nerves. Interviewers expect some amount of nervousness. Nerves can affect your voice, so better watch it. Keep your answers brief and to the point.
3. Nonetheless, avoid yes or no answers. If it can’t be helped, expound a little, but keep it short.
4. Don’t take questions literally, they usually lead to one-word answers.


The Weakness Question

While there are a thousands of questions that may be asked, most of them can be classified under a category. The weakness question falls under the category of motivation questions. An interviewer likes to know what drives you or your motivation in working. They are usually the “why” questions. Many interviewers listen keenly to the answers.
You, on the other hand, most likely, don’t want to reveal your weaknesses to the interviewer. After all, your goal is to sell yourself, and who in his right mind, would want to buy a defective product? Don’t fret, the interviewer knows you are human and therefore flawed. In short, don’t sweat it.

How To Answer The Weakness Question

In general, when answering motivation questions(such as the weakness question), give an answer that will pull you towards them. It’s called the pull factor, referring to the motivations that drive you in their direction. The opposite, of course, is the push factor, those that drive you away from them. The first are more genuine and tend to be more appealing to hiring managers. To this end, try to stay positive whenever possible. The aura of negativity is usually unattractive.

However, this may be difficult when it comes to the weakness question, as weaknesses are usually regarded as a negative trait. So what do you do? Try to balance it with a positive, for example:

– “My biggest weakness is that I sometimes become overwhelmed with big tasks and miss deadlines. What I did was to break the task into small ones and list them down in order. I check and recheck the list to make sure that the task is done at the right time. Now, I don’t miss deadlines any more. In fact, I sometimes finish early leaving me with time to go over my work.”

This shows that while you are procrastinator, you are also organized. In the end, these flaws balance each other so that the former does not detract from your effectiveness. All your employer really cares about is that the job gets done. What is important is that you addressed the problem.

Another example would be:
– “I am a very shy person and I hate speaking in large groups. This was not a problem before because my boss usually left me well alone to do my work. But when my manager asked me to deliver a presentation during the company’s national meeting, I knew I had to face my fears. Fortunately, I had plenty of time. I read self-help books and volunteered at a national park as guide. This gave me the opportunity to practice. I was panicked at first, but with practice, I learned to relax. So when it was time for my presentation, I was ready. My colleagues were interested in my ideas, and now we are implementing them.”

Another approach to this question is to pick a quality that is not relevant to the job you are applying. For example, if the job is in sales, say that you are easily bored when left alone to work. Then segue into what you are doing to address the problem. In the example, continue by saying that you addressed boredom by looking for other productive things to do, however minor they may be. This will show the interviewer that you are aware of your shortcomings and are willing to do something about it.

Mistakes To Avoid

The biggest mistake you can make in answering this question is to say that you have no weaknesses. It suggests a lack of self-awareness, or worse, an ego as big as the moon. Despite what your mother tells you, you are not perfect, so better have an answer.

The second biggest mistake is to choose a quality that is actually positive when taken in the context of the job. An often-used reply to the weakness question is “I am a perfectionist and therefore end up working late into the night”. Don’t use this trite answer. It’s not only unoriginal, it’s also insincere. Plus, it suggests that you are inefficient because you cannot finish a job during regular work hours.

Final Reminder

As you can see, its easy enough to answer the weakness question. With a little reflection and preparation, you can ace the interview. You will find plenty of examples of replies, whether in self-help books or in the internet, and a lot of them will sound good enough to copy. Resist the temptation. Instead of parroting other people’s answer, craft your own and tailor it to your experience. Come up with a few anecdotes that will make your point. Do not fabricate an answer, especially one with facts woven into it. In this day and age, its easy to check them. Don’t be intimidated in revealing the inner workings of your mind. Interviewers ask the weakness question not to demean or belittle you, but to find out what moves you. If you answer candidly and honestly, you will surely succeed.

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