Outshine In The Media: Cosmopolitan Magazine, July 2013

Published: July 22, 2013
By: Faye Hollands

Job interviews sit on the Uncomfortable Scale right under “pap smears” and a fraction above “stacking it in public”. Trying to answer curly questions and sell yourself while your heart is beating out of your chest and your palms are sweaty is not our idea of a good time. But alas, we have to endure job interviews if we want to, you know, earn a living and advance our careers and stuff. Here’s how to answer the toughest interview questions so you can score your dream job.

You’re Hired!

Article written by Edwinna Carr, Cosmopolitan Magazine – you can read the original article by clicking here or see below.

How to answer the seven toughest job interview questions.

“Tell me one thing you’d change about your last job?”

Let’s be real; you wouldn’t be seeking another position if your current one was rocking your world. The key to responding to this one? Answer honestly but strategically. “Instead of complaining about bad management, pick something you can explain clearly that wouldn’t be a concern to a new employer, such as inefficient work flows, outdated technology or lack of career opportunities,” says career expert Faye Hollands.

Just be sure you let them know why this was a problem for you and also how you’ve tried to overcome it so that they get to see your shiny proactive side; even if it’s something you couldn’t fix in the end.

“Can you tell us a bit about yourself?”

Ugh, this is one of the vaguest and most confusing questions you’ll face in the interview hot seat. So how are you meant to know what they want to know about you?

According to career expert Sally-Anne Blanshard you should save yourself from randomly babbling on about significant events in your life by asking them to clarify straight up.

“It may seem a little confronting but it’s OK to say: ‘Sure where would you like me to start; in my current role or my studies?’ This will give the conversation an anchor so you’re not there all day!”

“What’s your weakness?”

This is possibly the most dreaded interview question. Obvs you can’t tell your potential boss that your Facebook stalking, long chats with colleagues and 3pm chocolate runs are letting you down in your current workplace, so what can you say without it selling yourself out of a job?

“An inability to recognise a weakness indicates a low level of self-awareness,” says Karen Adamedes CEO of Career Chick Chat. “So demonstrate that you’ve identified a weakness and have done something about it – this will indicate that you’re continually learning.” Say you’re a little scared of public speaking, tell them this and explain how you’ve been putting your hand up at work to present to clients and in team meetings to build your confidence. Easy!

“What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your job and how did you rectify it?”

Ever been asked this question and had to mentally scramble for an example where you were a total hero? It’s crucial to jot down a few examples before your interview so you’re not left sitting in silence when your brain freaks out under pressure.

“It’s important you pick a mistake that you actually managed to fix and are able to vocalise why you made the mistake and what actions you personally took to solve it,” says Faye. Remember, they’re not asking so they can sit around and have a laugh about it when you leave, they want to see how you’ve managed to pick yourself up and dust yourself off after effing up.

“What would the person who likes you least say about you?”

Uh, say what?! It might seem weird for a future employer to want to know dirt on you but this is actually a common interview question designed to get you to reveal something not-so-great about yourself.

“Answer with something along the lines of: ‘I’m competitive – and this may unnerve some people but I believe in business that an element of healthy competition is necessary to make progress,’” says Sally. Choose something, like being a perfectionist, that’s not a negative thing but is still a believable answer.

“What are your biggest strengths?”

OK, so stating the positive things about yourself should be easy, right? But it’s hard to know where to start. As a general rule, only pick strengths that are relevant to the role you’re applying for. Try not to list every positive adjective under the sun to describe yourself, you’ll end up looking conceited. If you’re going for an IT project manager position, rattling off about your “empathetic nature” isn’t tell the interviewer how you can contribute to this position.

“Do you have any questions for us?”

This is just a courtesy question they ask you before they usher you out of the interview space, right? Uh, NO. You should always have at least one question for your interviewer that isn’t, “So, have I got the job?”

“I have not hired people on the basis that they didn’t ask questions and therefore didn’t demonstrate whether they were evaluating that the position/company was a good fit for them,” explains Karen. “At a first interview don’t ask about salary, annual leave and when you can have days off. Wait until they decide they want you and then start negotiating!”

Faye Hollands

About Faye Hollands

Faye is an accomplished Career Coach, Small Business Coach and Productivity Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success. To receive weekly articles to improve your career, business and time management skills click here or book your Free Focus Session here.

You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email fayehollands@outshineconsulting.com

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