6 interview answers that will get you the job of your dreams

6 Interview answers that will get you the Job of Your Dreams
6 Interview answers that will get you the Job of Your Dreams

Job interviews can be a nightmare. You sit there feeling nervous, giggling perhaps, even worrying you might black out, while some guy in a suit asks you what your weaknesses are. Being nervous for a job interview is natural; but the process can be a whole lot easier if you take the time to prepare. 

Job interviews are like school exams: you have to prepare without knowing quite what to expect. And if you fail, you have to go through it once again, this time with different people. Although there is no guaranteed recipe for success, you can prepare yourself. Most likely you will asked at least one of these questions. Here are some basic tips about what your answers to the most common job interview questions should focus on.

1. Tell me something about yourself

After some small talk about the weather or public transport, you will be facing the introductory part where you have to present yourself. That seems easy, but if you're nervous you might omit a few important details. Remember this is your chance to speak freely and be creative in promoting yourself. Focus on your latest accomplishments. Connect this story to how it led you to apply for this job, and any qualifications or experience you have that are related to the ones they're looking for in a candidate.

2. Why do you want to work here?

The interviewer wants to see if your personality fits the culture of the company. Skip the part about the high salary that attracted you to this job. Ideally, do some research before the interview and think about why you would enjoy working at this company. Try to find out if you know someone who already works there, or has worked there in the past, and give them a call to get the lowdown.

Give the interviewer details of some of your abilities that are not included in the job offer. The interviewer could be pleasantly surprised; it could make you stand out from the crowd and give you a better chance of ending up on the short list of valuable candidates.

3. What is your greatest strength?

Don’t give the example of a quality that is not relevant for the job. Your greatest strength might be that you have an incredible amount of Tinder matches, but that is not what they want to hear. Ask your family and friends what they think your greatest strength is and use that information.

Don’t get too carried away and mention too many. Stick to a few, but connect the strengths to specific details. Take advantage of this opportunity to call the shots in the interview and share a touching story from the past where you managed to deal with a challenging situation or came up with a solution for an important issue.

4. What's your greatest weakness?

Remember: this is not a trick question although most job candidates look at it this way. Don’t say your weakness is that you don’t have any. Or that your weakness is that you are a perfectionist who likes to work long hours. That is not what they want to hear. So get over this impulse and be honest by putting your weakness in a good light and point out how you work on improving the weakness. You could say something like: ‘I don’t have too many technical skills, but I recently applied for an online course to learn more about databases.’ Or say: ‘I can easily can get carried away, but I know this about myself so I can stop.’ Be honest, but not too honest. 

5.  How do you think other people would describe you?

If you have had a job before, they might rephrase this question by asking what your former manager or colleagues think of you. This is a type of question that lets you be more creative and it’s always recommended to have stories ready to back up your answer. Don’t say: ‘I think they would describe me as a responsible person.’ Instead tell the interviewer a reason why you think people see you that way and give a specific example of when you proved to be a responsible person.

This question can easily be practised before the interview takes place. Ask a friend to do a fake interview with you. It makes you less nervous and you can think through all these standard questions.

6. Where will you be five years from now?

Now this could be a trick question as no one really knows the perfect answer. Unless you are a very determined person and have made specific career plans and know exactly what you want to do with your life, this question could actually puzzle you. You don’t know what you will do in the next two years, let alone five, right? So in order to avoid a statement like ‘I really have no idea’, highlight the fact that you’re interested in a stable and long-term career at this company, or a company like this one.

If you actually want to be working somewhere else in five years, don’t mention where, but stress once again how this job would be such a tremendous opportunity for you in terms of career growth. Show the interviewer you’re a confident person and try to be as authentic as possible. Smile and keep a positive attitude.

One last thing

Remember these questions were not invented to put you on the grill. They have already read your CV, Googled your name, and now they want to know if they think they might like you.

If there are several people interviewing you make sure you pay attention to all of them. Do not look only at the person asking the questions, as the lady at the far end of the room might be much more important in making the final decision than you would think. I know, as I was once a student member of a committee hiring PHD students.

I was the (young) lady at the far end of the table. We had seven job candidates on that day. The HR Officer and the professor who were on the committee with me could not agree on two of the best candidates. One of these candidates had ignored me all during the interview as I was ‘just’ a student. The other one had smiled a few times and thanked me for the interview afterwards. So when the professor asked who I thought should get the PHD position. I was very determined. ‘It should be the person who had better social skills,’ I said. He got the job.


Workshop: 'How to prepare for an interview'

The Rotterdam School of Management organises workshops on how to prepare for an interview. Run in small groups, they will give you general information and advice about job interviews. You will get some tips and tricks and learn about the 'Do's and ‘Don'ts'. It will also help you practise an elevator pitch and learn what to do with ‘tricky questions'...

Do you have a job interview coming up? Or do you think it's useful for your future to know more about this subject? Come to this session. There is enough time for individual feedback due to the limited places.

Date: Monday, 10 April 2017

Time: 13:00 - 15:00

Location: Mandeville building, Presenter Career Services

Other dates: 8 May, 29 May, 26 June

Register via my registrations through SIN-Online. Or click here.


Text: Manon Sikkel Daelmans/ www.phdportal.com


If you liked this article, you might also be interested in: