The day you’ve been waiting for is here. Today is your first round interview for that role you’ve been eyeing for a long time now. Your resume and cover letter have already done their job to get you noticed for the interview. And now, it’s time to shine in the recruiter screen!
But of course, it’s not just a straight shot to the hiring manager round. You still have to answer the questions that the recruiter has prepared.
Most of the time, recruiter screens are just a way to see if you are a good fit and can do the job, and will typically go through a set of common interview questions including: “Tell me about yourself,” “Why do you want this role,” etc.
With that said, there are always going to be a few questions that can cause you to stumble. I’ve coached thousands of candidates in the past, so let me help you run through the 3 most annoying questions and how best to answer them.
This might seem like a trick question at first. But answering it truthfully and with self-awareness can actually gain you some bonus points and eventually that nod in approval for the next round. Because let’s face it — nobody’s perfect. Even your potential boss has their own set of weaknesses.
The biggest takeaway here is to not try to force your “weakness” to look like a strength. The old lines of “I am a perfectionist” or “I am too obsessed with the details,” can actually bite you on the other end and come off as a red flag. They might also sound scripted or insincere, which is the last thing you want to do to impress a future employer.
You are better off giving an honest answer that shows you are self-aware and working on making improvements. Some examples include things like getting the jitters before a big presentation or having limited knowledge of working with a specific tool. Some may also say they take too long to adapt to a change in environment, or a difficulty managing their expectations of their manager.
The golden rule to all of this is to turn the tables to how you are working on improving it. You can say things such as you are working on your stage fright by attending weekly meetings at a local Toastmaster, taking a mental break when you’re overwhelmed, or blocking off time to learn a new tool to help you at work. It’s normal to have weaknesses, but what sets the winners apart is how they embrace their weaknesses and look forward to getting better.
There are a variety of reasons why people leave their jobs. There are some good ones and some not-so-good ones. When you encounter a question about why you’re switching from one job to another (see, that’s why you’re applying!), you must avoid badmouthing your former or current employer at all costs.
You see, this is not about them. The interview concerns you and your potential new job. Whatever you might have experienced with your past employer will most likely be of no concern to your future boss. Furthermore, talking more about your strengths and evolving interests will be more relevant in answering this question.
All companies would prefer hiring a dreamer who innovates and expands their horizons. So you could say that you’re leaving your former job to find some more room for growth and development. Here’s a sample answer that may help:
“I have had some great experiences in my career and, at this point, am really looking to take my skills in Data Analytics to the next level.
I learned a ton from my last manager but felt that I hit a plateau with my development after spending the last 3 years there. This role popped up on my LinkedIn feed, and it just seems like an incredible opportunity to learn from experts in this field. Really excited to learn more today.”
In the end, it is important to recognize that your former employer contributed considerably to your professional growth, but all things, even the good ones, reach their end. And by that time, it’s time to start a new journey.
It’s not always about the money, but of course, it matters. Usually, towards the end of the interview, your interviewer will ask you what your current salary is and your expectations. Before you say anything, take a pause and aim to make this a conversation, not a confrontation.
The best case scenario is that you follow up and ask them first what their budget is for this specific role, and they give you a range. And from there, you can give them feedback if it’s aligned with what you are looking for.
It doesn’t always work this way, though, and they may expect you to be the one that gives the first number out. If that’s the case, do your part to stay calm and work with them, not against them. Let them know you are happy to discuss salary and expectations after you know more about the role and after both sides agree that it may be a good fit.
This is also where your research comes in handy, so you know what other companies are paying for similar roles in this industry. Knowing your market value can give you a good feel for how to negotiate your salary moving forward. Some of the best resources out there to check salary information are Glassdoor, Levels.fyi, and Salary.com.
And remember that our goal here is never to lie! Being truthful and sincere about what you know, and don’t know will always work out for you in the long run. Knowing who you are, and all the value you bring to the table will ultimately guide you towards your ideal career path. Now it’s your turn to go and nail that interview!
If you’re looking for more resources, check out our free Interview Kit on our website!
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