I recently came across an article that provided interview advice to employers. The theme of the article was “Don’t be taken in by rehearsed answers.” The article came about a result of surveying physicians, practice administrators, and office managers.
Here’s my thought on the article.
While I agree that it’s important to find out as much accurate information as possible about any candidate, I also believe it is just as important for the candidate to be fully alerted to the types of questions that they may be asked AND the information that the questions are designed to illicit. Preparing for an interview is similar to preparing for an exam. It doesn’t matter if you know in advance ALL of the questions that could be asked…there is no way that you can know which of the questions WILL BE asked. As a result, exam scores are still good indicators of whether or not a person possesses certain knowledge required for certification. …and Interviews (which are basically oral exams where the subject matter is YOU) are good tools to evaluate whether or not a job candidate possesses the desirable traits that make you want to hire him/her.
Recognizably, unemployment is lingering at high rates and a good job might be any job that pays the money to keep a roof over your head. However, the best career move will be one where both employer and employee agree to employment after each gets an “honest” picture of what the other is about. The idea isn’t to come up with the best answer of what the interviewer wants to hear…it’s to come up with an accurate answer that is articulated so as to put your best foot forward”. Besides, rehearsed answers are often transparent and come across as fake.
Being prepared for an interview is much like preparing your 30-second ”elevator speech”. It’s not that the elevator speech is inaccurate or misleading, but if someone walked up to you and said, “Tell me why I should hire you in 30 seconds or less”…you wouldn’t want to spend 20 of those 30 seconds thinking about what you were going to say.
This same concept applies to interviewing. You know the pressure that you feel to reply as quickly and intelligently as possible when asked a question. Knowing what you may be asked ahead of time is the key to a positive outcome.
Ready for the questions? Here you go…
1. What do you like most about your current job (or most recent job)? The thought behind this question is that there is ‘no correct answer’. You simply have to offer an intelligent well thought out response. Long periods of silence about a simple question like this indicate that you are looking for the “right answer” and that you might either be making it up or leaving things out.
2. What else do you like about your current job? This question is even more important that the previous one as it exposes weaknesses left over from the first question. Hey, you worked there for how long? Certainly you can come up with more that the one or two things that you just told me about. If not, and if they don’t make sense, there could be more to the story than what is being told.
3. What are you looking for in your next job that’s missing from your present one? Remember those stories that you’ve heard about not saying anything negative about your current/previous employer? Now’s a good time to remember them again. This is like the “tell me about one of your weaknesses” question. A good answer could be “more responsibilities”, but just like question number 1 above, be prepared for the follow-up, “That’s interesting, tell me more.”
4. What aspects of your last job did you like least? Again, a careless answer here could be the end of the interview…and keep in mind that a follow-up question is likely. This question works to bait you into speaking negatively about your employer. Preparation here will help you to avoid this trap.
5. In your last job, in what accomplishments did you take the most pride? The interviewer is hoping to be blown away with a great reason why you should get the job. Don’t leave them hanging with a blank stare (which indicates that you did NOTHING in which you are extremely proud).
6. What do you consider your greatest strengths? Don’t be modest. Oooh! Don’t be modest? Are you kidding me? By this point in the interview, the interviewer hopes to have you feeling comfortable and is asking you to let your hair down. The question will expose the egotist…but it also gives an opportunity for a modest person to offer that they “learn quickly” or are “a great mentor”.
7. What am I likely to hear, positive and negative, when I call your references? While this question gives another opportunity to reinforce a your strengths with your version of what a third-party might say about you, it also opens the door to you offering up something negative.
Throughout the interview process, be prepared for what are termed as the ‘five most important words in an interviewer’s arsenal’, “Please give me an example.” The last thing that an interviewer wants is to learn some important decision making factor – and then finding no supporting evidence in their notes.
All of these questions are designed open-endedly for the purpose of allowing you to demonstrate how capable and honest you really are. Be prepared, but be true to yourself. The best job for you won’t be the job where you simply gave the answers that the interviewer wanted to hear. The best job will be the one where the answers where honest responses that revealed that the true you is a great fit for what the employer is looking for.