In continuation from last week’s post about preparing for interviews, I thought you would also find it beneficial if we broke down two of the most difficult interview questions people struggle with. Let’s get started:
1. Tell me about yourself.
What the Interviewer is really asking:
What have you done to progress in your career? What have you achieved that can be translated into this company? What are your strengths and what are you doing here? Don’t tell me what I’ve already read on your resume.
How to answer the question: You need to tell a story. Don’t include extensive details about your job history because that information is already on your resume. There also isn’t a major need to talk about your goals because that question will probably come up later. Briefly describe what you are currently doing, what you’ve done in the past, and what you’re working on now while honing in on the strengths, skills, and experience that are most applicable to the job and company you’re applying for.
I currently work in Merchandise Planning where I am responsible for developing allocation strategies that generate high sales, profit, and inventory turnover. I’ve been able to drive sales by being responsive to developing trends, analyzing merchandise performance, which resulted in my office ranking X out of the entire company. Prior to that, I held various roles in finance and supply chain. Those positions have really helped in developing my analytical, communication, and leadership skills, which I’ve been able to bring with me. While I really enjoy what I have done, I’m ready for the challenges X brings and that’s why I’m here today.
2. What is your greatest weakness.
What the Interviewer really wants to know:
You’re not perfect, nobody is, but if you know what you don’t excel in, it means you’re self-aware and we can develop you. Where will you be challenged? How can we help you grow and what are you already doing to help yourself?
How to answer the question: Be honest about where you really want to grow but don’t provide any weaknesses that are necessary to do the job. There’s a fine line between being aware, too honest, and just wanting to “look good”. This means avoid yawn-inducing answers that are pretty much meaningless to the interviewer, such as “I’m a perfectionist”, “I can’t say No”, or “I work too much”.
One of my biggest weaknesses is that I’m impatient and that’s because I am diligent in doing my research and providing high quality work so I expect that of others around me. However, I’ve learned that everyone works differently and I’ve become more understanding of the circumstances of those around me, even lending a hand when necessary to ensure the timely completion of projects and assignments with tight deadlines.