You’ve perfected your resume to land the gig of your dreams. Now comes the hard part: the interview. So how do you prepare for those hard-hitting questions that could make or break your chance of getting hired? We chatted with Peter Harris, Workopolis.com’s editor-in-chief, about how to answer those tough Qs and impress your future employer.
Q1: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Employers don’t actually want to know what your life goals are when they pose this question, says Harris. “What they want to know is whether the role that you’re applying for fits with your career goals,” Harris recommends responding by telling the interviewer how this job will fit within your career development.
Q2: What’s your biggest weakness?
According to Harris, one of the main reasons employers ask this is because they want to see how you deal with pressure and how you handle uncomfortable questions — they’re not just trying to make you squirm. “Talk about an area in which, perhaps, you aren’t the strongest,” says Harris, “and if it’s critical to the role you’re applying for, say you’re working on developing those skills.” This shows that you’re self-aware, you’re willing to grow and that you’re able to learn.
Q3: What are your salary expectations?
Harris says your salary should be based on the going rate of your industry, the nature of the job (are the hours long? How demanding is it?), the perks and benefits of the contract, as well as your experience and skill set. If you have to give a number, give a range, says Harris, and tell them why you should come in at the top end.
Q4: Give me an example of overcoming a challenge at your previous place of employment.
Most of us have faced adversity at work, so Harris recommends being honest about how you dealt with a particular situation and what you learned from it, even if it didn’t turn out as you hoped it would. “It’s OK to talk about a situation that turned out poorly as long as you can speak positively about what you learned from it, how you’ve grown since and what you would do differently now,” he says.
Q5: What would you add to this company?
“You want to talk about what has set you apart for the jobs in the past,” says Harris, “including your key accomplishments and how they can apply to the future success of the company.” Talk about how you would apply those measures for success to the team.
Q6: What are some things you think the company can improve upon?
Employers want to see that you’ve done your homework, you’ve researched the company and that you keep up on industry news. So, when answering the question, “talk about how you can make a significant contribution,” says Harris. This means thinking of the challenges of the role and sharing your plans for what you’d like to work on and how that would benefit the company.
Q7: Why should I hire you?
The real question here, according to Harris, is whether or not you’re confident in your ability to excel in the role. This is where you give your elevator pitch. “It’s your opportunity to highlight your key qualifications and why you think you would be excellent in the role,” says Harris. Champion your abilities and accomplishments that will make you stand out from other applicants.
Q8: Why do you want to leave your current job?
“The best answer for this is not that you’re fleeing something negative, it’s that you’re moving toward something positive,” says Harris. Reiterate that you’ve learned a lot at your current job and that you have enjoyed working with the team, but that it’s time for a change and you can see yourself making a big contribution to this new job.
Need a confidence boost? Here are five ways to speak more professionally at the office.