I loathe job interviews, mainly because of the useless, irrelevant questions asked during these interviews. What do hiring managers really hope to accomplish by asking canned questions about our work history and future career goals? It all seems pointless, considering numerous underqualified and mentally unstable candidates (hence the term “going postal”) are being hired each day simply because they are good at interviewing, and most likely embellished their resumes to appear more competent.
Honestly, I think the only useful questions asked during interviews are the situational ones where you are presented with different scenarios and asked how you would react if put in that position. They go a little like this: “It’s midnight. You and your team just put the finishing touches on a project you’ve been working on for the past 5 weeks, when suddenly your co-worker, Sally, announces that she forgot to save an extremely important document before her computer crashed. What do you do?” Surely, you won’t tell the interviewer what you would actually do (suck your teeth, say you did your part and leave), but you haven’t had time to prepare an answer, so unwittingly, how you would actually react will be somewhat evident in your reply.
Aside from these hypotheticals, when answering questions posed during interviews, candidates will simply tell hiring managers (HM) what they want to hear.
Below, are some of my least favorite interview questions, along with my thoughts (the real answers to those questions) (TT), and what interviewees should actually say (BS). Hopefully, some human resources manager somewhere will stumble upon this article and spread the word.
1) HM: Why did you leave your last job?
TT: Because they didn’t pay enough, and I was tired of working under someone who was making more money than me, but actually knew less.
BS: There was little opportunity for advancement, and I would like to work for a company where I can grow.
2) HM: Why do you want to work for this company?
TT: Because you’re hiring, I need a job, and you offer the most impressive benefits and salary package of all the other companies I’m considering.
BS: Well, this seems to be a young [or insert other positive adjective here (fun, growing, dynamic)] company with a great corporate culture. Not to mention, I saw on your website that you make charitable donations to [insert charities of choice here] and are very involved in the community. I also feel that it’s important to give back.
3) HM: What are some of your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
TT: Hmmm…strengths. Well, I know everything so that’s a win-win situation. I’m extremely helpful, in that, I am willing to show others how to do their job more effectively. And, I’m good at delegating responsibility, which makes it so that I actually end up doing less work. Weaknesses? Let’s see… What are my weaknesses? Wow, I’m totally drawing a blank.
BS: My biggest strengths are that I am detail-oriented, and work well under pressure. Oh, and I am also highly resourceful and a team player. I suppose one of my biggest weaknesses would be [pause so that it appears unrehearsed] that I am a perfectionist. I sometimes spend a lot of time fussing over small details that, in the end, weren’t critical to the overall success of the project. NOTICE: I gave 4 strengths and 1 weakness. This was NOT an oversight.
4) HM: Why should we hire you?
TT: Because I’ve fallen on hard times and really need the money (pouty face). I can’t honestly say I’m more qualified than the other candidates because I don’t know them.
BS: You should hire me because my skill set matches the qualifications listed in the job description perfectly. Also, I am extremely passionate about what your organization is doing and I have an interest in furthering the success and growth of your company.
5) HM: Is there anything else you would like to add before we end the interview?
TT: No, I’m so glad it’s finally over! Please, no further questions. I’m starving and bored to tears.
BS: Reiterate what was said during the interview and point out a few job-related qualifications and responsibilities listed in your resume. If you can’t think of anything else, just ask for the job. But, make sure you say/ask something.