Some people fundamentally doubt the purpose of job interviews. Is it really possible to determine within a couple of hours whether a candidate is the right one for the job? Participants in job interviews often wonder about the meaning of many surprise questions asked. Some appear superficial, others weird and some even stupid. Nevertheless, employers often pursue a profound meaning with these questions, which does not always immediately open up to the applicant.
“Employers want to find out how someone is really ticking and how he deals with issues he could not prepare for,” says career coach Andrew Pullman of People Risk Solutions, who used to work in HR at Dresdner Bank. “They want to see the personality and not the profile.”
1. “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
With the stormy conditions in the investment banking world, there is hardly an intelligent answer to this stupid question. Everything is possible: Maybe you will be replaced by the colleague and desperately trying to get somewhere else. But the truth is not always the best answer. Indeed, with this question, the interviewers want to know if you are seriously thinking about your future career, thinking long term, and whether your plans are in line with those of the company.
The answer should address both roles and responsibilities as well as your personal and professional development. The answer should show that you realistically assess the uncertainties of the future, that you want to stay with the company and consider it a great platform, ‘There are a number of options that interest me in the long term, namely X, Y and Z.’
2. “How would you describe yourself in three words”
“Ambitious”, “team player”, “results-oriented”, “innovative”, “problem solver” – you probably only think of such platitudes at first.
“Employers want an answer that is peppered with tangible examples. Anyone with some job interview experience will ask them two or three times immediately, “warns Pullman. “Imagine something out of the ordinary – perhaps how to drive yourself and others beyond the anticipated. Indicate that you are detail-oriented, is also OK. Then you should prepare relevant examples. ”
3. “Tell us about yourself”
An alternative is: “Lead me through your CV”. Of course, you should not rattle down the individual stages of your resume, but emphasize your successes.
Use this question to identify your achievements and expertise. Do not waste your interlocutors’ time by explaining your CV in detail. Many only have a short attention span and will switch off early – especially if you start from the beginning and tell a long and complicated story. With a longer career, it makes sense to start in the middle or at an important turning point. ”
4. What did you earn at your last job?
This is a particularly stupid (and nasty) questions. Because most applicants feel compelled to answer, but actually know that it does not concern a potential new employer at all.
The salary so far does not allow any conclusions to be drawn about their own value as employees. Recommended answer:
“When looking for a job I’m looking at jobs with an annual salary of around $50,000. Does that also correspond to your salary range? “
5. What is your greatest weakness?
These strength-weakness issues can be quite annoying. Everyone involved knows that candidates are stinging their strengths and adding features to the weaknesses that can ultimately be interpreted as strengths. After all, the HR manager is not your therapist – so your real weaknesses don’t affect them much.
It is therefore recommended that the question is taken either with humor and with something like “chocolate!” Or reverse the direction of the question:
“In the past, my weaknesses pretty much unsettled me, but by now I’ve come to the realization that I should instead focus on my strengths – such as technical writing and instruction design.”
6. “What does your dream job look like?”
This question is most often used at the end of a job interview to screen out candidates who see the job as an intermediate only, a better chance. This question also provides information about too much or too little ambition.
We want to get an idea of your expectations and make sure your goals match our offering. If, for example, you have the ambition to lead a team of eg 30 people and the job can never offer such a thing, then there is a problem. Basically, it’s about the informal discussion of your career ambitions and how it can help you.
In a sense, it is a mutual exchange. The easiest way to avoid stumbling here is to do a thorough research on the job in question. Ask during the interview process about career development opportunities and growing responsibilities.
7. “How many people fit in a subway wagon?” Or “How many bricks does the Empire State build?”
Brain teasers have lost some importance since Google banished them from their competitions. But Pullman is still asking investment banks such questions – especially in their entry-level programs. These questions appear at first glance as a serious challenge to your mental abilities. Candidates can also prepare well for this.
You need to show how you think, how to handle a few data points and logically link them, and how to reach a conclusion. You can also prepare for such questions by playing through some of them and knowing that it’s never about the solution, but about the thinking process itself.
8. “How would your colleagues describe you?”
No, this does not provide an opportunity to advertise yourself as a team player or to skate about his soft skills. Speaking about his own achievements in the third person requires modesty.
Focus on characteristics and competencies that are relevant and demonstrate how indispensable you are. Your answer should match the position for which you were invited to the interview. For example, building a long productive relationship is much more important to an older banker than a young associate who depends on energy and teamwork. If you cite such examples, then you should also prepare to illustrate them. Without context, they are of no importance.
9. “Why did you leave your current employer?”
Cancellations are no longer a shame. Rather, you should use the answer to show that you have chosen a decent retirement.
It is always best to cite several reasons. If one reason is not convincing, then maybe the other. Just one example: ‘There have been a number of layoffs and I’ve been worried about my job security. My way to work was also long and I had to spend a lot of time traveling. I feel that as a waste of time. I would also like to take on more responsibility and in the current situation, this will hardly be possible given the cost savings and job reductions. ”
10. “They were stranded on an empty island and could only take three things with them. What would you choose? “
The correct answer to this stupid question is not: “A six-pack of cold beer, sun cream, a good book and definitely not my wife.” Again, it does not depend on the answer. Rather, employers want to gain insight into your personality.
There are three goals – all of which are about the candidate’s assessment: you need to show that you are smart, have good judgment, and can use both right away.