In their very least, job interviews are a two-level process. Many of course, go onto become four and five level scenarios.
In spite of what you hear, trained, ethical and experienced professional interviewers, such as we employ at Windsor Group – do not throw curly questions at you. But not everyone who interviews you is a trained interviewer. And that means that some of the questions they ask to get the information they want can be loaded.
Here are five questions that can be quite lethal to your chances if you’re taken unaware and stumble into a booby trap.
1. What does your ideal job look like?
This one is tricky.
You’d be well advised to avoid painting yourself into a corner by enthusiastically proclaiming that the job you’re applying for is your ‘dream job’.
If it then comes to light that you’re looking at other roles – and most people do – then it stands to reason that they can’t all be the premier choice. Somewhere you’ll be seen to be settling for second best – and that’s not a good look.
It’s best to keep your response general. Say something like: “a job where I can’t wait to come to work each day”. Or, “ Somewhere where I like the work and the people, where my skills and experience are being put to good use, and I feel that I’m really contributing.’
2. What are your salary expectations?
This is definitely a loaded question, with a catch-22 sting.
And how you answer it depends on who you’re talking to.
If your interview is with a Recruitment Consultant who you hope will champion you with a prospective employer, be absolutely open and honest.
There’s no point trying to fool them. Consultants know precisely what the job entails, what industry expectations are for a salary range for that role and more importantly, just how far the employer is prepared to negotiate for the ‘right’ person.
3. You left your previous job abruptly. Did you have a problem?
This one can be a real humdinger. There are probably two things the interviewer is hoping to find out. Firstly, whether you or your behaviour had any bearing on why you left your job in a hurry. And secondly, whether you can be tempted to speak badly of a past employer.
Really give a great deal of thought to this question before you go to any interview. Again, the honesty rule applies. Be candid with your Recruitment Consultant. Say if you definitely do not want this issue – whatever it was – raised and why. Ask for advice on phrasing a response to an employer interviewer.
But mostly, chart your own course. Decide definitely how much you want to say and how little. Then find the words for doing it diplomatically.
Think along these lines
- ‘There was a corporate takeover. Resultant management changes made my situation untenable.’
- ‘The actual job didn’t match the role that was described to me’.
- ‘Family members were brought in and blocked what I saw as my pathway to progression.’
- ‘There were management issues that I couldn’t change or contend: it seemed wiser to move on.’
And so on. But be very, very careful to stay within the bounds of truth so that what you do say won’t come back and bite you when your referees are asked for their version.
4. Describe your management style
This seems straight forward enough. But it can often mean that the manager interviewing you is trying to determine whether you will be an asset or a threat. It’s also too easy to make your case seem humdrum and mediocre if you use the same corporate jargon that everyone will bring to the interview table.
Say ‘progressive’ and they’ll think you’re going to change everything from Day One. Say ‘totally collaborative’ and they’ll decide that you sit around and talk instead of doing.
Instead it’s generally wiser to bring out your laurels. Say that you manage according to the situation and staff in your team. Then go on to cite several quite different examples of where you’ve used a particular methodology to bring out the best in your people and achieve above-expected results.
Don’t forget to explain how you lead by example, take time to look and listen and always give credit where credit’s due.
5. Do you have any questions for me?
Of course you do!
You’ve explored the prospective employer on the website. You’ve probably Googled all the main players. And now you’re seeking to determine whether or not this is really the right job for you.
Questions that involve ways in which you will prove an asset to the organisation are productive and give you a final chance to stress some of your major strengths right at the end of the interview.
Think this one out carefully and phrase it to give you the last hurrah that you want.
For more job seeker resources, check out the webinar recording below.