interview question trips you up the most?
When I ask a client that
question in an interview coaching session the answers I hear most
- Tell me about
your greatest weakness?
- Why did you
leave your last job?
- Can you tell me
what salary you expect?
there is another question that can be one of the most important
that the interviewer will ask. And yet most candidates
treat this question like a "throwaway". So what
is the million dollar question? It's . . .
you have any questions for me?"
simple question, really, and easy to overlook. But if you
handle it correctly, your answer can make the difference
between an offer and a rejection letter. Before I talk
about the best ways to answer this question, first let's look
at two of the worst answers.
"No, not really,
but thank you for your time."
This is by far the most
common response to this question. While it may not
hurt your chances, it certainly won't leave a positive last
impression. At best, this response makes you look bored and
"Can you tell me about the salary and benefits
". . .and while you're at it, how about those
company perks, flex time and extra vacation time. And,
oh yeah, do you pay relocation expenses?"
OK, so maybe you wouldn't really say all that, but asking about
compensation too soon may leave the impression that you're only
interested in the job for the money. (Even if that is your
primary motivation, you won't endear yourself to the potential
employer by being so obvious.)
about compensation are best left to a later stage in the
interview process -- most likely when the company has indicated
an interest in making you an offer. Of course if the
interviewer broaches the subject, then questions are appropriate
do you handle the "question" question?
are some of my favorite responses.
1. Ask about things that are
important to you. For example:
- "Can you
tell me about the team dynamic?"
- "What types
of people tend to be most successful in this type of
position at XYZ Company?"
- "What is
the typical career path for someone in this position within
NOTE: A skilled interviewee can often find ways to work
these types of questions into the body of the interview rather
than saving them to the end.
"In my first six months (or year) on the job, what is the
most important thing you would like me to
First of all, notice the
wording. There is a subtle message that you are already
picturing yourself in the position. And that just may help
the interviewer picture you in the role as well.
Secondly, this response indicates curiosity about and sensitivity
to the company's and the hiring manager's most urgent
needs. If you can respond with an example of how you have
accomplished something similar in the past and/or outline a
prospective plan of action, you've aced this question.
“Based on our conversation so far, what is your biggest concern
about my suitability for this role?”
Yes, this is a tough one -- no one wants
to invite criticism. But if you can muster the courage to
"face the music" and then craft a compelling response,
you just might pull an otherwise lost cause out of the
fire. (FYI -- some interviewers will avoid answering this
question and I wouldn't advise pushing for a response.
Many, however, will be quite candid.)
So here's how it's done: Thank the interviewer for being
honest, acknowledge his or her concerns, then
provide a tactful rebuttal. Whenever possible include
examples of ways in which you've overcome similar obstacles in
To pull this off successfully you need to have an honest
assessment of your strengths and past accomplishments, as well as
your potential weaknesses, as they relate to the position
qualifications. It will also help if you've developed some
skill at reading interviewer body language. If you've paid
attention to those things in advance, you'll probably already
have a good idea of the potential objections.
final note: Be sensitive to the fact that the interviewer
may be running short on time by the time he or she asks this
question. If that seems to be the case, keep your
responses succinct or offer to continue the conversation either
in person or over the phone at a later time.
you like some assistance brushing up on your interview skills?
Ground Associates has several services to meet your needs.
Please visit www.highergroundassoc.com/career.htm
or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for