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Don't Let Common Interview Questions Trip You Up

Interviewers and their styles can be all over the map, but there are some common questions you will likely have posed to you in an interview. With those come some bear traps you need to be careful of.

I will break some of these down and provide you some guidance on how to navigate the answers. It’s important to analyze and even rehearse your answers ahead of time so you can be as confident as your interview nerves will let you. While we will give you some tips and suggestions, the most important thing is to remain true and focused on who you are and have your answers represent you in the best light possible.

So, tell me about yourself?
This one can trip up a lot of people because they simply don’t know how broad to be in their answer? Should they stay totally focused on their professional track record or is the interviewer trying to gain insight in to both their professional and personal experiences? How much detail should they go in to which leads in to how long should their answer be? Let’s start with this overarching guideline. Your answers in an interview setting should never be more than 45 seconds to a minute for any question. I also suggest sticking to only professional details. If the interviewer wants to know more they will typically ask further questions. That said, you might look online at the website of the company you are interviewing at and research what their culture and values are. Sometimes they stress personal values along with their work goals and objectives. If they do reference that think about which of those values align with you if there’s an opportunity to bring it up in the interview.

What’s your biggest Weakness?
Don’t be the cliché who says their biggest weakness is that they are a workaholic or a perfectionist who just does not quite until they get it right. It’s overplayed and rarely accurate so it comes off as canned. Instead think about real challenges you’ve faced in the past and how you overcame those challenges. The trick is to turn that weakness into your strength. Maybe you were a nervous public speaker in your early professional years, as most people are, but you have worked hard to overcome that by taking Toastmasters classes and now feel effective even if you aren’t quite Tony Robbins. This shows you are willing to take charge and improve your life and career. Another scenario may be that your biggest weakness is your lack of experience something most at your level may not have experience with, but that you are looking for opportunities to gain exposure and knowledge with whatever that may be.

Why did you leave your last job?
Honesty is the most important thing here. The truth usually comes out and you don’t want to be caught in a lie if you have a less that ideal departure story. Things like mass layoffs happen and the interviewer is going to have interviewed many other people who experienced the same thing. Share what you are comfortable with and be honest. Explain what happened and perhaps what you learned from it. However, always be sure you don’t come across as negative. It’s a real turn off when I ask this question and the first thing out of the candidate’s mouth is “I don’t want to speak negatively about a former employer, but….” And then they proceed to do exactly that for the next 2 minutes.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Here you want to show you are ambitious and looking to grow with the company, but not have it appear as if you expect to be expeditiously promoted thru the organization such that you may not be happy in any position for very long. Most roles require 2-3 years of experience before you’re ready to make the next leap so think 2 jobs ahead in this scenario. Make your goal in line with the job you are applying for, not a job in a completely different department and make it something realistic. Convey what you can and will bring to the team now and how those traits will help take you to the place you’d like to be in 5 years.

As I mentioned earlier practicing, as with everything in life, makes you a better performer. Go over your resume and know what areas might look like they need explaining or clarification and be prepared to speak to that. Keep your answers to 45 seconds to a 1 min. Try to being your personality in to your answers. No one likes canned interview responses. Finally, bring a high level of energy or enthusiasm to the meeting and be clear in confirming your interest in the role if indeed you are interested when the interview is done. Good luck!


Don't Let Common Interview Questions Trip You Up

What to add to your LinkedIn while job hunting

When looking for a new job in addition to updating your resume and reaching out to a recruiter, another critical step is updating your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a tool both those employed and unemployed should update and check regularly. You can make these changes easily in a day and it will be one of the most important things you can do to further your career and set yourself up for success when job hunting.

Updated Headshot
Having an up to date professional headshot is a simple way to receive more engagement on your LinkedIn page. LinkedIn found that those with a photo had “21 times more profile views and 9 times more connection requests” compared to those who didn’t have a profile picture. While updating your profile picture, add a cover image as well which shows hiring managers you put the time and energy into your profile. If you want to use a nice, crisp stock image check out sites like Pexels or freephotos. If you need help changing or updating your background cover image here are LinkedIn’s tips.

Career Summary
LinkedIn is one of the first places hiring manager’s check during the interview process therefor it’s important to have a summary of your career trajectory at the top of your page. It’s a place to talk about yourself – from your career achievements and career choices to your hobbies and interests outside of work. Essentially it’s a place to “sell” yourself so it’s important to put your best self forward. Here are some examples of exemplary LinkedIn summaries.

Recommendations and Endorsements
Having positive recommendations from other LinkedIn members serve as a testimony to your work ethic and validation to future employers. Ideally you want recommendations that speak to a specific project or achievement instead of just a standard “Joe did a great job”.  One recommendation to get those types of reviews is upon completing a project ask your manager or team member to write you a review while the project is fresh on their mind.

We hope these few simple suggestions help you when thinking about what you can do to improve your LinkedIn profile and if you still don’t have one, we highly recommend you consider creating a page.

What to add to your LinkedIn while job hunting