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The Smartest Ways You Can Answer Dumb Interview Questions - Lolly Daskal | Leadership

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The Smartest Ways You Can Answer Dumb Interview Questions - Lolly Daskal | Leadership
If you've ever sat through a job interview, chances are you've wished for smart answers to the dumb questions that always seem to be asked. One of the things I work on when I consult with clients is knowing how to reframe a question to get to the answer you want to communicate.

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Answers To Common Interview Questions

  1. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Don’t tell your life story; answer clearly and concisely. Focus on professional accomplishments.
  2. Why should we hire you over the other applicants? Say, “I don’t know the skill of others, but I do my own,” then highlight your strengths and talents. Show them how you will bring value and contribute.
  3. What’s your greatest weakness? Turn it into a positive while avoiding the “perfectionist” cliché. Instead, say, “I have weaknesses, but I focus on improving in all I do. I work through my weaknesses and leverage it by concentrating on my strengths.”
  4. What would you like me to know about you that’s not on your resume? Say, “I have the right mix of interpersonal and work-related skills to be successful. Also, my personality and skills are a good fit for this position. I’m friendly, I enjoy collaborating and working with others.” Then, add a story of how your skills and attitude made a difference.
  5. How honest are you? Straightforwardly state your high ethical standards, and offer your references as backup.
  6. How would you describe yourself in three words? State the qualities that set you apart and give a concise explanation. Focus on unique qualifications and communication skills.
  7. If you could be a superhero, what super powers would you want? Give a brief answer, tied to your professional strengths.
  8. Why do you want to work here? Say something that aligns you with what the organization does. Keep it close to the company’s stated mission if possible.
  9. Why did you leave your current employer? Don’t criticize your previous employer. Say “I’ve outgrown my opportunities there and am looking for a new opportunity to be part of a great team.”
  10. Can you tell me about a time you’ve clashed with your last manager? Tell them that clashes are unavoidable but there is a way to work through things. If you tell a story, make it mild and with a happy ending. Stay positive and focus on communication and moving forward through conflict.
  11. What would your last boss say about you? Stay brief and positive: “I’d hope they would say I work hard and learn fast. I’ve learned much from their mentorship.”
  12. Where do you see yourself in five years? Talk about commitment to career, improving your value to the organization and your passion for excellence. Don’t talk about your goals or dreams.

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The Smartest Way To Answer Interview Questions

The interviewer is likely looking for someone who can solve problems, has good interpersonal skills and the ability to get things done using good judgment and effectiveness. 

Not every question lets you show skills easily, so reframing a question to get to the answer you want to communicate might be the best way to do so.

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The reason for the question

Interviewers ask questions like "tell me about yourself "  to determine if you're qualified to do the work and if you will fit in with the team.

How to Answer the Question

It might be a good idea to share something about yourself that is doesn't relate directly to your career. 

For example, interests like running might represent that you are healthy and energetic. Pursuits like being an avid reader might showcase your intellectual leaning. Volunteer work will demonstrate your commitment to the welfare of your community.

The “present-past-future” formula

This is a simple formula to construct your response.

  • Start with a short overview of where you are now (which could include your current job along with a reference to a personal hobby or passion).
  • Reference how you got to where you are (you could mention education, or an important experience, internship or volunteer experience).
  • Finish by describing a probable goal for the future.

The Job Interview

The Job Interview

Hunting for a job is a tricky process and may have many pitfalls. Many of us are not accustomed to having these kinds of conversations or handling the power dynamics of a job interview. There can b...

A Long Multi-Round Process

If you feel there is fog ahead of you due to opacity in the interview process and the multiple rounds, you can simply ask the next steps of the process and the timeline for a decision.

If you think the employer has an elongated set of rounds ahead, request to consolidate them if possible.

Stumped By A Question

Instead of bluffing your way through a question that you are completely stumped with, it is better to be upfront and handle it with honesty and grace. Tell them straight away that you do not know the answer to this question and what similar things you have done which have been effective.

Your life experiences are unique and not identical to what the interviewer is trying to ‘slot’ you into.

The Interviewer’s Perspective

When the interviewer asks you, “Tell me about yourself”, he is hoping this question will get you talking. It will give him a first impression of you, and set the tone for the inte...

How Not to Answer

  • Prepare a brief summary of the high points of each of your past positions, but do not turn it into a very long monologue that makes the interviewer glaze over with information overload.
  • You do not have to brag, but don't rely on the interviewer to see past your humble exterior and figure out how great you are. Find a way to present yourself to your full advantage.
  • This is not the time to talk about all your personal details. Focus on who you are as a professional.
  • Because this question can be interpreted in many ways, do not be overwhelmed by it. Delve right in with your prepared answers.

Your elevator pitch

You need a short summary of yourself as a job candidate. Keep it focused, ideally less than a minute, and no more than two minutes.
  • Address what your primary selling points are for this job. The number of years of experience or special skill.  Focus on the qualifications in the job description and how you meet and exceed it.
  • Explain why you are interested in this position.