You’ve done your research. You understand the requirements of the position, the culture of the company, and what knowledge and personal skills are needed to be successful in this role. You’re a company expert. Perfect! In an interview setting, this knowledge allows you to illustrate that you not only understand and recognize the company’s needs, but that you are capable of addressing them. You’ll show your interviewer that you are the best person for the task.
However, to demonstrate that you are the most capable technologist for this position, you need to answer your interview questions carefully. Today’s blog post lists five of the most crucial interview questions, and gives you advice on how to respond to them. If you do this the right way, you’ll have a new technical role in no time!
1) What’s Your Biggest Weakness?
- How NOT to Answer: Don’t say that you are too much of a perfectionist or that you are always early. They are canned and unbelievable responses.
- How to Answer: There are two ways to answer this question.
1. Give an honest weakness referencing a skill set that is NOT essential to being successful at this role. For example, being great at public speaking isn’t required for a Java Developer who is sitting in a back room. In this case, explaining that you struggle with public speaking, but that you are working on overcoming this shortcoming, is a great response. Make sure that you can give an example of how you are working to overcome your weakness; this is an essential part of your answer.
2. Describe a glaring weakness that you had at a previous job and explain how you overcame it. For example, you could say, “I used to get caught up in the details and miss the big picture, but I’ve learned to take the time to step back and map out how to reach my overall goal. This mapping process ensures that I don’t get lost in the minutia and that I’m moving towards the bigger picture.”
2) What is your greatest accomplishment? At your last job, what was your greatest accomplishment?
- How NOT to Answer: Don’t give a joking answer about being able to drink a gallon of milk in one minute. While impressive, it doesn’t match up with what you’re looking to accomplish in this new position. An ‘incorrect’ response to this question is listing an accomplishment that has nothing to do with the task at hand.
- How to Answer: Think this one through carefully, because it’s your time to shine! Make sure that the accomplishment, and what it stands for, relates back to the position for which you’re interviewing. Were you able to increase performance by 50%? Does that relate back to this role? If so, talk about it!
Remember, this is your greatest accomplishment, so be able to talk about it with pride and enthusiasm. An interviewer will be able to see right through you if you’re not excited about it. Furthermore, be able to talk about this accomplishment in great depth. If it’s your crowning glory, they’ll likely ask probing questions about this great feat.
3) Why Do You Want To Work Here?
- How NOT to Answer: While you may like the corporate discounts, vacation time, or benefits package this organization offers their employees, this is not an appropriate response. It appears as if you’re in this for greedy, self-serving reasons, not because you’re excited about the company’s direction or your career growth.
- How to Answer: Here is the moment where you can let your company research shine! Explain, in a non-hokey way, how their mission statement or product is aligned with your career goals and desires. Explain how their culture is a good fit for your personality, and how your skills will improve their company.
4) Tell me about a time when you ….
There are many ways in which you can end this question. Took the initiative? Dealt with an obnoxious client? Were asked to work extra hours? Be prepared to answer questions that ask you about work experiences that were trying or uncomfortable.
- How NOT to Answer: While you’re afraid that you may stumble and accidentally say something about a former employer, don’t claim that you’ve never had any of these trying experiences. Your interviewer won’t believe you, and it likely isn’t truthful.
If you’re considering the other boat, and being completely honest (which you should be!) with how these trying experiences made you feel, don’t trash a former employer. This will not reflect well on how you handled the situation, and the interviewer may fear that you’ll do the same thing to their company some day.
- How to Answer: Spend some time mulling over your past work experiences that were trying or uncomfortable. Be prepared to share how you tackled these obstacles and how doing so made you feel. Be honest, but be tactful.
5) Do you have any questions?
- How NOT To Answer: Don’t ask questions about compensation, vacation, or benefits. It indicates that you’re not as interested in the company or the job as you are in your financial gain. Furthermore, asking questions like this makes it appear as if you have not done your research.
- How to Answer: This is an opportunity to show that you have done your research and are hungry to know more. Have questions about the position and the company. Two good questions are:
- “What were the strengths and weaknesses of the person that last held this position?”
- “What are the performance expectations and how will they be measured?”
Asking questions about the company and expectations will show that you are truly interested in the position, and that you want to make an informed decision should you be offered the role. This will do wonders for your image.
The answers to these five questions are crucial to your interview success or failure. Make sure your responses reflect your interest in the position and the company, not in the benefits you’ll accrue. Furthermore, remember to be honest, passionate, and respectful because, when answered appropriately, the amount of time and research you’ve put into the company will be evident. You’ll shine.
What other questions do you feel are crucial to the interview process? What are the best and worst answers to those questions? Let us know in the comments section below or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!