Some time ago we gave you a bunch of general advice about how to best prepare for and present yourself during a job interview. This time, we will look at very specific questions which you will most likely be confronted with, no matter what type or level job. Many questions are quite predictable, designed to help the HR people to get as thorough an impression as possible of the person they are talking to – you – in the short span of time available. Most candidates know that, and as a result most answers are unfortunately also just ’standard‘ and predictable.

 

Anyone who shows some creativity and innovation at this point will stand out from the crowd and ideally gain some advantage.

 

Despite extensive preparation, which we strongly recommend, you should try to avoid monotony and the impression like you are ‚acting‘ by letting your answers come spontaneously. That way you are most likely to make a lasting positive impression that makes your interview partner consider you for the job.

 

1. The inevitable question about your strength and weaknesses

The task of presenting a good self-evaluation that neither contains unwarranted praise nor puts you down is undoubtedly one of the tricky parts of a job interview. The important thing is to convey that you are always eager to try new things, constantly gather information and knowledge from superiors and colleagues and know how to integrate that newly found information into already existing knowledge.

 

Sometimes apparent weaknesses can actually be seen as strength: If you regularly leave your desk in a state of disorder it can be seen as a sign of creativity and ability to multitask. But make sure not to take the lack of order too far. It’s also advisable to take a quick glance at some of the desks of the company on the way to the meeting room. This will give you a general idea of whether this potential employer is accepting of such ‚chaos‘ or whether the culture demands good order.

 

2. Another typical question is why you applied for a job at this particular company.

Make sure to do some good research about be company in advance. Today with the internet available, that is easier than ever before, simply spend some time carefully studying the company homepage. You don’t have to learn by heart any key figures from the latest annual report, but the company’s products or services, a rough idea of its regional activities and the company philosophy (which can usually be found in ‚about us‘ sections, the company history or career pages) are things you should be able to roughly call up and refer to when presenting your personal motivation to apply.

You should also not only have the necessary skills to do the specific job, but also give a quick summary or the field of work – without getting lost in details. Definitely avoid repeating text from your cover letter – the people you are talking to can read that for themselves.

 

3. About team work

Under no circumstances should you appear to only be interested in working in a team. It does depend on whether you are working project based or are going to be doing ongoing tasks either for a limited about of time or in general. You can say that you see the usefulness of team work for the company being based on the specific task at hand.

 

4. How do you respond to orders given by a superior?

No company likes mindless underlings, which means you should not indicate a tendency toward unconditional obedience at all times. Superiors are human, too, with some small and some bigger faults, and also not immune to bad decisions. Hence, make it clear that on one hand you use your head and also express your opinion, but at the same time are willing to respect the hierarchy. That this can at times be a tricky balance to keep is obvious, and something you can freely admit.

 

5. Nowadays it’s also no longer uncommon to ask some (legally acceptable) personal questions that don’t have any direct reference to the job. For example, if you mentioned reading as a hobby in your resumé, you might be asked which book you read last, why you picked it, and whether you liked it.

 

As a rule, anything you put in your CV should be true! So if you only tend to skim the Sunday paper once a week, you probably shouldn’t put ‚reading‘ down as a hobby. Otherwise, answering such questions should be easy. You might want to avoid naming a book with controversial political, religious, or erotic content, though. If you also like to travel, you might be able to think of an illustrated book about some exotic places. With that, you also demonstrate and open mind and curiosity about unknown cultured, which wonderfully complements the answers concerning your personal strength and completes your positive presentation.

 

We wish you much success in your upcoming job interviews.

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