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How exciting! You finally got an interview with your dream company for your dream job. Time to suit up and brush up.

Interviews challenge our whole being and can be physically, intellectually, and emotionally exhausting, but you got this:

  • Hair cut – check!
  • Professional outfit – check!
  • Gather information on the organization and the position – check!
  • Prepare answers to likely questions on your experience and education – check!
  • Brace yourself for not getting or wanting the job – check!

Your enthusiasm for the opportunity to obtain the role is understandable, yet being overly zealous may blindside you to questions asked during the interview that may reveal attributes about the company or the position that have you searching for the nearest exit.

Following are three questions you may be asked that you’ll want to pay close attention to as they can help you weed out dream employers before they have the chance to weed you out.

1. Question: Tell Me About Yourself?

Wow! That’s a loaded question off the bat. Is the employer looking for issues with your relationships, whether you are married, have kids, like to travel a lot, enjoy relaxing, what you don’t like …?

DO NOT offer up (personal and none-of-their-business) information that can take you out of the running. Rather, keep your comments related to the role you are applying for.

Answer: Talk about your job-related experiences, talents, accomplishments, quests, and so on. Express your passions for specific aspects of the position. Include interests that relate to being successful in the given role such as:

  • I love fashion (re: an apparel brand)
  • Helping people gives me satisfaction (re: a customer services)
  • I do my best work when exchanging ideas with others (re: being part of a team)
  • I’m inspired by creative people (re: a marketing firm)
  • I like to solve problems (re: software developer)

and so on…

As Steve Jobs said: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

2. Question: What Parts of Your Past Positions Have You Found the Most Unpleasant?

Again. Trap. Trap. Trap. Unfortunately, every position has it’s challenging moments. Stating otherwise will appear pollyanna-ish. So you’ll have to admit to some of these unpleasantries, but do so in a way that shines a light on your resourcefulness. Get your interviewer agreeing with you as you walk through a situation that demonstrates how you get buff when the going gets tough. Demonstrate win/win results. Avoid exposing frustrations, failures, or simply dislikes from past positions.

Answer: Begin with the problem (the smaller the better) and expand on how you got in front of it before it blew up. For example:

  • “We don’t always have control over economic surprises. I found myself in a situation where the company was short on supplies to fill orders so I developed a partnership with a vendor by offering to include their marketing in our packaging. We met our quota and they gained new market share.”
  • “It’s understandable that employees get sick, go on maternity leave, or simply take time off. I plan ahead for workforce and talent shortages by establishing relationships with temp agencies who can provide competent staff at the drop of a hat.”

To quote Joseph Kennedy – or was it John F. Kennedy, or the American football player Knute Rockne?… anyway, they said: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

3. Question: Do You Have Any Upcoming Plans that Will Interfere with Your Work Schedule?

What they really want to know is are you going to show up or be OOF too often. They may also be concerned that you’re only half serious about committing to full or full-time plus hours if that’s what the position requires.

This is where you get to turn the question back to the questioner and claim your space. The goal is to assure them that you are responsible, accountable, and won’t leave them in a pickle.

Answer: Open up the discussion by asking the interviewer what kind of schedule the position requires. Let them describe the expectations and then simply respond:

  • “I won’t have any problems meeting your expectations.”

Remember, you’re allowed to take the time away from the office that is provided as part of your benefits. Once you’ve secured the role, you can respectfully request and negotiate any earned flexibility or time off.

You can always count on Benjamin Franklin for a quote. How about this one: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

A Few Parting Thoughts

While your goal going into the interview is to secure a follow up interview or even a job offer, keep in mind that questions like the above can be signs of the times to come in a position. You may walk out with a feeling that the company not only wants your skills, experience, and knowledge, but your life! If so, unless you’re willing to give it to them, it may be time to cut bait and look for other fish in the sea.

There’s an ocean of possibilities out there – go find yours!


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