Interviews are nerve-wracking enough, but when interviewers ask any of these five questions — or all if you’re really unlucky — your mind goes into a frenzy. A blank frenzy, but a frenzy nonetheless.
These questions are interesting. Most call for speculation rather than fact and uncover very little, if anything, about the person being interviewed. Despite that, these questions are the staples, relied upon for years .
The good news is there is way of answering these questions that will make you stand out from the crowd every single time. And that trick is to turn the question into one you want to answer rather than the one you have been asked. No, I’m not suggesting you become a politician. But I am suggesting you practice the format and then allow your answers to flow naturally during the interview. Once you know the format, you will answer these questions like a pro.
If you want to ace your next interview and stand out from the crowd, read on to learn how to answer the five worst interview questions you will ever be asked.
1. What is your biggest weakness?
When faced with this question, take it as an opportunity to transform your weaknesses into strengths. For example, if your weakness is that you are impatient, the chances are you respect deadlines and like to get things done on or ahead of time. If your weakness is detail orientation, you are most probably an effective big-picture visionary. If your weakness is you are a poor loser, you most probably have a strong desire to win and intense focus of delivering results. In my years of corporate leadership, I learned that people don’t actually have weaknesses. What they have are strengths that they rely on too heavily. So identify your strengths; draw a long line and at one end write your strength and at the other end, the opposite of that strength. What you are looking at is your weakness. Answer the question using this format and it is not only honest, it shows tremendous self-awareness.
2. What would your last boss say about you?
Really, you have absolutely no idea. So be honest and say so. And go on to say, with a cheeky grin, that you’ll both find out when the hiring manager asks for references! Then acknowledge that while you can’t second guess what your boss will say about you, you can share evidence of the value you brought to his or her department and the impact it had. Use this question as an opportunity to showcase your unique attributes, skills, experiences and value, and provide examples to support your claims.
3. What would your colleagues say about you?
Once again, you have absolutely no idea. So be honest and say so. Then offer to share evidence of the contributions you made to your team that promoted team success and achievement. Provide the situation, the action you took and the result for the team.
4. Why should I choose you over anyone else?
The honest answer is that you can’t answer because you don’t know who else has been interviewed for the job. State that politely, and take the opportunity to remind the interviewer why you believe you are a good fit for the role, the team and the company.
Confidence, without arrogance, is reassuring and being able to articulate clearly why you believe you are a good fit will be taken well.
5. Where will you be in 5/10 years?
You don’t know. None of us do. What this question is really trying to uncover is how ambitious you are and your commitment to doing well in your role. Again, be honest and say that you don’t know where you will be in five or ten years. Then go on to say that your goal is to become the best [fill in the appropriate role or specialty] you can be by developing and honing your skills in [insert key skills from the job profile] so that you can be proud of the work that you do and the value you bring.
Originally published at medium.com