3 standard interview questions that almost everybody gets wrong

Standard or tricky interview questions? Sounds familiar? As promised last week, we will further address the issue of tricky interview questions – or in today’s case: interview questions that seem standard but are not quite… and how to go about them.

Here are three of the most common standard questions that most experienced managers and executives get wrong:

1) Could you please tell me a bit about yourself? / What’s your current situation? / What are you looking for? Why have you contacted us?

Most common wrong or not so great answers:
“I am currently looking for a job…”
“I have XYZ years of experience and I have been looking for a job for 3 months…”
“From a professional or personal point of view?”. It’s a job interview. It’s obvious.

This is usually the kick-off question at interviews. Whichever question is asked, you should answer exactly in the same way: by presenting yourself professionally, e.g. giving a summary of your professional profile (your experience, main achievements etc.) and clearly communicating your immediate career goals / what you are looking for.

Operate under the assumptions that the interviewer has not read your CV in-depth or doesn’t remember it. You’ll set the tone of the interview with your answer.

2) What are your 3 strengths/weaknesses?

Most common wrong or not so great answers:
“Aehmmmm…. I don’t know… “
“I don’t have any weaknesses… “
Or giving a one-sided list of only strengths or weaknesses.

Let’s face it, everyone has some areas of improvement. The key is to find a true, balanced response in order not to undermine yourself, and not to come across as someone overly arrogant. The recruiter is looking for a self-aware & mature manager or executive.

3) Where do you see yourself in 5 years? / What are your long-term career goals?

Most common wrong or not so great answers:
“On the French Riviera… “ (trying to be funny)
“I don’t know…”
Or mumbling about something extremely generic & broad.

Again, here the intention of the interviewer is to understand how aware and conscious you are.

The good news is:
it’s all about practice.

Here some useful .pdfs that will help you get ready for the next interview:
Interview guide
Interview preparation

Should you have an upcoming interview and some questions concerning it, feel free to contact us and schedule a free & non-obligatory career consultation with one of our Career Angels.