By Laura Whitelaw
Interviews can be a stressful part of the job search process. A way to alleviate some of that stress is to make sure that you are well prepared. Below are some common questions that people often feel tense about and sometimes need some coaching on how they might best answer them.
1) What are your strengths / weaknesses?
2) Why are you leaving your current position?
3) What are your salary expectations?
The first question above is a bit of a tricky one and the interviewer is looking for an answer that relates to your work habits. Identifying your strengths can be even more difficult than identifying your weaknesses because they are tasks that you perform with such ease that you don’t recognize them as strengths. You believe that everyone operates that way. To identify your strengths, think about what others have complimented you on and refer back to previous performance appraisals that you have received. As for weaknesses, most people are very good at beating themselves up and so can identify plenty of weaknesses – think about your negative self-talk. The best advice that I’ve ever heard on answering the question about your weaknesses is to be honest about them but counter your statement of your weakness by turning it into a positive statement about you. For example you might say, “My weakness is that I can get distracted with ideas while I am busy working and so I have learned to keep a notepad nearby to jot down my ideas so that I can remain focused.” An answer like this one should work really well for someone in a creative field of work but hopefully this will give you some ideas on how you can prepare your own response.
The second question is meant to uncover whether or not you are a negative or difficult person to manage. If you are unhappy in your current role – resist the temptation to go on about your gripes regarding your current employer, your boss or your co-workers as this will only serve to give the interviewer the impression that you will be difficult to manage and/or bring the morale of the team down. You should answer that you are seeking a new challenge with a growing company that can benefit from your expertise. Elaborate on the challenge you are seeking as well as what you are bringing to the table in terms of your skills and experience. Formulate an answer that allows the interviewer to see a benefit in hiring you as opposed to an answer that could be taken as self-serving.
The third question often strikes fear in many job seekers because they are afraid that if they give an answer that is lower than what the employer is expecting to pay – they will be offered a lower salary than they might otherwise have been offered or, that if they give an answer that is too high – they may put themselves out of the running for the job. The best way to answer this question is to say that your primary interest is in finding a challenging position that meets your career goals with the right company and then provide a salary range. If you are unsure of what the range could be for the type of role you are interviewing for, then check out various salary survey results before you go to the interview.
Preparing answers for these three questions will help you to do well and calm your nerves for your next employment interview. With answers to these three questions under your belt, you can relax and focus more of your attention on evaluating whether or not the position is a good fit for you.
Laura Whitelaw is the founder of Best Choice 4 Resumes. Her background includes several years working in the employment services field as well as some time working in corporate training and development. Sign up for Laura’s newsletter and receive a free report, “Top 10 Interview Q & A’s To Help You Ace That Job Interview”, visit http://www.bestchoice4resumes.com.