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5 Fresh Takes on Answers to Common Job Interview Questions

May 11th, 2018

Most job seekers can name five common job interview questions off the tops of their heads. Every internet list of “common job interview questions” includes them, along with canned answers that would be helpful if they weren’t so cliché they put hiring managers to sleep.

Keep your interviewer engaged and make yourself the most memorable candidate (for all the right reasons) by trying out these fresh takes on five of the most commonly asked job interview questions:

“Tell me about yourself.”

Tired Take: “I’m an outstanding bookkeeper with an eye for detail and a passion for frozen yogurt companies.”

Fresh Take: “Back in 2011, I was in marketing at a web design company, but what really fascinated me was….”

While most interview advice recommends you respond to this question by summarizing your fit for the position, summaries are harder to remember than stories. Instead of turning your resume into a sound bite, pick a short story that explains how you got to the point of interviewing for this job.

“What do you know about our company?”

Tired Take: “According to the website, you’re a Fortune 500 company that focuses on building sustainable birdhouses.”

Fresh Take: “I saw that your mission statement prioritizes connection through the building and sale of sustainable birdhouses. That speaks to me because…”

Any candidate can summarize the company’s website or promotional materials, and many do. By describing how the company’s core mission or values resonate with your own, you immediately paint an image of yourself fitting in with the company – which is exactly what the hiring manager needs to hear.

“Why do you want to work here?”

Tired Take: “I really want to make a difference in the world of medical devices.”

Fresh Take: “I believe that integrating technology into our health is the next step in improving lives, and this company makes it possible for me to participate in that by…”

Many candidates will answer this question with a “what” – stand out by answering it with a “how.” How does working here, at this company, fit with your approach to work or your overall goals? How can you make a difference here that you could not make elsewhere?

“What’s your greatest weakness?”

Tired Take: “Sometimes I’m too concerned about getting the details right, and I work too hard.”

Fresh Take: “I often get so absorbed in my work that I forget about the time. When this started tripping me up in college, I….”

It’s tempting to choose a “weakness” that isn’t one, but it sounds trite and disingenuous. Instead, choose a real weakness that affects your work, and talk about specific steps you’ve taken to reduce its impact over the years. Finish with a sentence explaining how you’ve improved. “Thanks to my current scheduling system, I haven’t missed a meeting in three years.”

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Tired Take: “Doing my best for the company as a manager.”

Fresh Take: “While I don’t know what my job title will be, I hope to have learned….”

Very few people know where they’ll be in five years. Instead, focus on what you want to learn over the next five years and how you hope to be applying those skills in five years’ time. You’ll demonstrate perspective and curiosity, two key traits for anyone seeking to advance up the career ladder.

At THE RIGHT STAFF, LLC, our recruiters can help you prepare for job interviews with some of the best employers in the Maple Grove area. Contact us today to learn more.

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