What the Interviewer is Really Asking With These Questions

John Krautzel
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A job interview gives you an opportunity to learn more about a company's operations and culture, and it also allows interviewers to learn about your skills and experience. Interviewers get the information they need by asking interview questions, and some questions are designed to uncover more than what you might think. Learn more about how to respond to questions that cannot always be taken at face value.

Why Do You Want to Work for Our Company?

If you're being perfectly honest with the prospective employer, a response to this interview question may lead you to discuss the prestige the position may bring you or even the salary. However, employers do not want to know how you can benefit from working for their firm. Rather, they want to know what you already know about the company. The hiring manager is seeking an individual who has performed research and wants something more than just another job. Showcase your knowledge by referring to the accomplishments of the company or even the mission and goals the company has that align with your own professional goals.

What Are Your Weaknesses?

While it may not be in your best interest to reveal that you are a procrastinator, an honest answer with a positive spin is always the best approach when answering this question. Employers don't want common clich├ęs such as "I put in too much effort" or "I am too nice." In fact, the hiring manager is bound to see right through these types of responses to interview questions. Instead, focus on skills you see as "in progress" that you want to improve, such as familiarity with software or organizational skills you are developing. By showing that your weaknesses are in process, your response to these types of interview questions shows the employer that you are honest, yet working hard to better yourself professionally.

What is Your Five-Year Plan?

Hiring managers ask these types of interview questions because they want to see if you are willing to stick with a new position and develop a future with the firm. They do not necessarily want to know about your professional or personal goals that are unrelated to the industry or even the company. Remember that companies invest money and time into training new employees, so hiring managers are less likely to take a chance on a candidate who mentions he plans to move to another state or country within the next five years during a job interview.

Ace the interview from the start by detecting the underlying meaning of certain interview questions. Focus solely on your professional experience and skills when meeting with a hiring manager, and show that you are thoroughly prepared. Applicants who take the time to research the company and practice responses to common questions well in advance boost their chances of landing the job.


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Martin K thanks for your comment. Yes, tell me about yourself is a very common one. What most people do is to respond with telling personal information instead of work related info. Tell me about yourself can be likened to an "elevator speech" - something that you would use to quickly tell someone about you, work-wise. Do a quick search on the Internet for elevator speech and you will get a better idea how to answer the tell me about yourself question. All the best.

  • Martin K.
    Martin K.

    How about this one: "Tell me about yourself?"

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