Experienced hiring managers are adept at unearthing hidden weaknesses and personal details about you without stepping outside ethical lines. Interview questions that seem straightforward are often designed to make you reveal how you think and share information that hiring managers cannot directly request. To avoid blunders and make a positive impression, find out what employers really want to know when asking these tricky interview questions.
1. Why Do You Want to Work Here?
Hiring managers want to weed out job seekers who are desperate, indifferent or materialistic, and this clever interview question can reveal deep-set motivations and priorities. Employers are interested in how well you researched the company and whether you are passionate about the specific job or ready to settle for anything. They want to recruit professionals who bring the most value to the company, and employees who only care about money and benefits aren't likely go the extra mile to solve problems or contribute to the team.
With this in mind, focus on highlighting the strong points of the company and personal goals or qualities that make you compatible. Make it clear that rewarding work and a constructive environment come before your salary concerns, and avoid mentioning bad experiences that prompted you to leave previous jobs.
2. How Would You Describe Yourself?
This dreaded interview question — and the common variant "tell me about yourself" — has thwarted job seekers for decades because it encourages you to overshare about your personal life. Hiring managers are evaluating how you see yourself and your understanding of the job duties, but they're also fishing for details that would otherwise remain private, such as family status, age, culture or hobbies.
Instead of talking about your family, weekend plans or 30 years of experience, deliver an elevator pitch that sums up your value proposition. Describe what you're most known for, such as recovering lost customers, and the techniques or strengths you use to accomplish goals.
3. Why Were You Unemployed for So Long?
Despite years of economic downturn that put many skilled professionals out of work, hiring managers remain biased against unemployed workers. They want to make sure your lack of work was a choice and not the result of outdated skills or low motivation. Preparing for this interview question helps you remain composed and avoid appearing nervous or frustrated when confronted with it.
In you answer, emphasize the steps you have taken to keep your skills current and your priority in finding the right fit. Employers want candidates who make decisions based on clear standards and goals rather than desperation, so try to provide an upfront reason whenever possible. For example, say "I took time off for family reasons, and I'm now ready to commit myself to a full-time career again." Mention any coursework, volunteering or trade organizations you have used to stay in touch with industry trends.
Effective hiring managers frequently have multiple motives when asking interview questions, making it essential to pay attention to the image you project to others. Answers that don't reinforce the benefits of hiring you are wasted opportunities, so make sure there's a strong selling point in every statement you make.
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