Refuse to be Stumped: Interview Questions to Prep For
I polled my Instagram followers the other day on what is going to help you prepare for all those interviews you are going to rock in 2018. You guys want the lowdown on which interview questions to prepare for, so I'll hook you all the way up with the 411 on a few of the classic stumpers.
Here’s the deal: At the end of the day, the main component of an interview is if you mesh well with the person who interviews you. Sometimes, that person is having a bad day and there's nothing you can say that will make them like you (keeping it very real with you guys).
What I want to focus on today are the questions that are really about getting to know your personality — the why behind certain things. Your resume is just a snapshot of you, and some of the follow-up questions might be uncomfortable. Don’t worry, I got you; I'm here to address the five big questions that I've personally found people struggle with in an interview.
"What are these gaps in your resume?"
Nothing is worse than having to explain why you took a year off in between jobs for whatever reason that might be. You might have had a personal situation that needed your full-time attention, or you were let go from your job and it took awhile for you to find a new one (more on getting fired later). Regardless of how valid the reason is, this question still makes people uncomfortable because it can suggest that someone is flighty and noncommittal. My best advice for this question is to be as honest as possible without sharing too much info.
For example, if you didn’t like your last role and you decided to leave without another job lined up, say something like, “I've been trying to find a role that best suits me and makes me happy, and I didn’t feel like my last career situation was healthy for me so I decided to take on the job search full time.” It's not too much detail, but just enough that gives the interviewer some context as to what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t overthink it and come up with something phony that isn't authentic. We can tell. Trust me.
"Are you looking to make a career transition?"
This one is for the person who wants to switch careers completely (my specialty!) For example, if you've been working in Merchandising for five years and want to be a trainer now, you'll need to explain. This will require you to get a little existential with yourself and understand the aspects of training that really resonate with you. You might also think about what aspects of your current role can help you transition into the new role more seamlessly. Again, I recommend you be honest and authentic. See a pattern here?
"Why do you want to work here?"
I know this one seems basic, but truthfully, my former team and I used to die laughing and share some of our favorite bullsh^t answers to this question because people don't do their homework. Even if they do, they pick some lame stat from the website that they hopped on two seconds before they got on the phone or showed up in person. Don’t do that, guys — you are so much better than that.
Not only should you spend time thinking about why you're excited about the role, but also about the company itself. What resonates with you? Is the team or mission deeply rooted in philanthropy? Do you love the product? Why? This is your chance to show your passion and personality. I'd even take it a step further and run a Google search for the company to read news. What's happening in real time that is exciting to you? For crying out loud, please don’t pull some generic fact from the website. Go the extra mile.
"So, you were fired?"
As horrible as this sounds, it does happen. If you hear this question, you'll need to speak about it, and most people lie or say something like “it was mutual.” No, it probably wasn’t. That’s OK. Again, this isn’t always the best place for elaborate detail, and honesty is the best policy because it shows that you're mature and accountable enough to own up to the situation.
If you were let go, keep it succinct and also come prepared to discuss the reflections you've had since the situation happened. What did you learn? You don’t have to be ashamed about this. Good people get fired from their jobs sometimes, and if you're accountable and have grown, it'll go a long way.
"What are you looking for in terms of your career growth and/or development?"
This is a tricky, loaded question; it forces you to really think about what you want in the medium to long-term. I've found that people get tripped up on this question because they overthink it. To avoid making this mistake, spend some time before your phone call or interview to consider what you want to do in the next 3-5 years and how the company you're interviewing with can help you get there. This will bring to light how badly you want this opportunity as well as it fits into your plan. Jot a few points down to reference if need be.
The common theme in all of these answers is really centered around authenticity, which is one of my favorite words. Be yourself in your interview and you'll exude confidence and credibility. I can’t tell you how many people I've interviewed who try too hard to be what they think we want them to be; if you have to try that hard, know that the opportunity might not be for you. You deserve to land a role that's the right fit for you in every aspect. Make 2018 the year that you score the job!