Most hiring managers know that in order to get good, reliable information about a candidate’s experience, they’ll need to ask behavioral or situational questions. At some point during the interview they most likely will ask the more familiar questions such as:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why do you want to work here?
Why these questions? Because they are familiar, comfortable and don’t take a lot of effort. How can you use them to your benefit?
Tell me about yourself is a general introductory statement and a good place to insert your elevator speech. Depending on a number of reasons including your age, or if you just graduated, your responses will vary. An example can be, “I am thrilled to be with you today to talk about the Editing Manager position. I have over 10 years of experience writing and editing communications in the global pharmaceutical industry at company name(s) and my work has been featured twice in the New York Medical Journal. I look forward to sharing that with you today.”
Make sure to include how your experience relates to the opening wording in the job description.
- Tip No. 1: Align your wording to their business needs.
- Tip No. 2: You might want to answer that question with a question–“Would you like me to start with my current position or would you like me to go back to start with my relevant education?”
What are your strengths? Relate your strengths to the open position. If the first few descriptors in the job posting state, “Respond to requests for information and communicate with other departments with minimal supervision” and “Work independently with minimal supervision," how would you respond? You could explain your ability to proactively respond to requests for information from department members and customers without any disruption in the workflow. Another response that relates to the position is to mention how you have been recognized by your manager for your ability to work under pressure and without direct supervision.
NOTE: Only state the truth. Review the job description and create real examples of how your accomplishments align to these.
What are your weaknesses? Relate this to a job related weaknesses only. After stating the weakness, immediately explain the steps you took to correct it. If, for example your weakness is disorganization, you might say the following. “After attending a time management class I realized that my disorganization stemmed from poor prioritization. I now prioritize my workload every morning and have learned to stay focused on the goals of the task, especially when solving complex problems.”
Why do you want to work here? If you thoroughly do your homework about a company and learn about their products, services, customer base and work environment, you are prepared to answer this question. (Your LinkedIn research can help you here.) Be prepared to talk about one or two of those items found in your research. Is it their renowned customer service, the way they give back to the community, their cutting edge research and development? You might want to state something you recently read in a news article to support this.
The key is to be prepared.