Point blank, if you are not ready to answer these five interview question than you are not ready to interview. The five questions I discuss in this post are not groundbreaking nor are they surprise questions that will catch you off guard. In fact, most of these questions you have been asked before or you are probably at least aware of. If you haven’t cheated and looked ahead try this. Write down what you think the five interview questions are. If any of you are able to guess them all right I would love to hear about it. I don’t think any of you will but if you do, please feel free to share. If you are able to guess four of them correctly I will also be impressed. These are standard questions but you would be surprised how many times I am conducting an interview just to see that the person is unprepared to answer a few of them. These questions are so commonplace that it wouldn’t surprise me to be asked all five of these during any given interview. Although these questions may appear both simple and straightforward, if you find yourself unable to give a good answer to any of them, you will most likely have to continue your job search. With that being said lets jump right into it!
Why are you looking for a new role?
I have never conducted an interview without asking this question. The answer gives the interviewer so much information. It tells you what motivates the candidate, it can tell you how their standing in the company is, what they like or dislike in their current role and more importantly, a ton of information the candidate will offer up without you even asking them. You would be shocked at the things candidates will say when asked this question. I have been told things like “I just hate my boss” or “I am really bored in my current role”. People often tip their hand that it is a pay issue or perhaps their company doesn’t offer advancement opportunities. I mean this is the nicest way possible but this question can be a landmine. In this metaphor being unprepared to answer this interview question is like walking through a mine field without a metal detector. In the moment, who knows what you will say. Never walk into an interview or pick up the phone without knowing exactly how you will answer this question. My suggestion is make it about your growth and development. Make it about your admiration for the company. Take a look at the job description and make it about something you would like to be doing more that you will have the opportunity to do if you are selected for the role. There are many ways to answer this question both correctly and incorrectly, just make sure you are prepared. A few months back I had a series on how to answer it correctly with this 3 Excellent Ways to Answer the Interview Question “Why are you looking for a new role?” and how to answer it incorrectly with this 3 Terrible Ways to Answer the Interview Question “Why Are You Looking For a New Role?”.
What about this role is intriguing to you?
You cannot afford to not nail this question. This is the recruiter or the hiring manager asking you simply, hey, why do you want this job. If you aren’t prepared to answer this question then you did something drastically wrong during your interview preparation. Now some of you are probably saying, Ben, that is the easiest question. Of course I know how to answer that question. Nobody is really messing this question up. Wrong, most of you would be shocked how often I get a terrible answer to this interview question. So often I ask this question just to have the candidate unenthusiastically tell me it’s similar to what I have done in the past. Really? Really, that’s it? And yes folks, often that is it. When I get an answer like that to me it feels like the candidate isn’t really interested in the role. This question should be easy to answer. This should be the layup of interview questions but so often candidates end up totally whiffing on this question. The thing that is most frustrating about this is that it is such an easy question to answer that can be correctly answered in so many ways. You could say you really respect the company. You can say you see the role as the next step in your progression. Some of my favorite answers are when people reference the job description and tell me specifically what it is in the job description that spoke to them. Have something prepared and then answer the question with some enthusiasm!
What are you making in terms of compensation?/What are you targeting in terms of compensation?
Every recruiter worth their salt is going to ask you about compensation during your interview. The really good ones will ask you at every stage of the interview process. Of all the questions in this post I guarantee this is the question people like the least. In fact I bet right now, as you are reading this, many of you are thinking in your head “I hate it when recruiters ask that question”. It’s no secret that candidates don’t all love discussing this question. Guess what, not all recruiters love this part of the conversation either. We know it has the potential to be awkward or even hostile. And trust me, none of us want that. The fact of the matter is we have to ask it. If a recruiter doesn’t ask your this question during your interview they are doing a disservice to their hiring manager. Let me explain why. Imagine you are a hiring manager and a recruiter sends you the perfect candidate. Reading through the resume and phone screen notes it hits you, “this is it, I must hire this person!” You call the recruiter immediately to give them feedback and to arrange further interviews. You pull up outlook and you figure out a time everyone can do the interview. The candidate requests that day off work. Everyone conducts the meeting and everyone loves the candidate. They are perfect for the role. It is decided that you must put together an offer and extend it. You go through all that work to get this done and you call excited as can be to welcome this person to the team. You call them, extend what you consider to be a strong offer, in fact it’s the strongest offer you can muster during this difficult business climate. However you extend the offer just for the candidate to turn you down as they were expecting an offer 25% higher than you came in. There is nothing you can do, the candidate is gone. Now, don’t you wish your recruiter had let you know up front what their salary expectations were or perhaps not even sent them at all? I know I would. Well this is the kind of thing that happens when you don’t make sure you know this information right away. I won’t tell you how to answer that question here, that topic is a post or more in of itself. However I will say this, know what you will say before the question is asked and when you answer, do your absolute best to not be adversarial.
Why do you think you would be a good fit for this role?
If you can’t answer this question you might as well stand up, shake the hand of the interviewer and walk out to your car to drive home. It’s the most basic question that you need to be able to answer. However because it’s so simple people often don’t practice it and because they don’t practice it they often end up answering it in a way that doesn’t do their skills and experience justice. Free throws are the easiest shot in basketball but you would be hard pressed to find a pre-basketball player who doesn’t dedicated time to master these shots. You know this question is coming, be prepared to knock it out of the park (that’s enough sports metaphors for one article). My advice on this is be able to talk about how your experience and job duties in prior roles overlap the job description. It’s almost fail proof.
What are your long term career goals?
Depending on the interviewer you may or may not be asked this question. However if you are asked this question by the interviewer, you better be prepared to answer it. The thing that is tricky about this question is you might end up saying something that undermines your perceived interest in the current role. I recommend saying it like this, “While I am currently really happy doing ABC, I really want the next step in my career to be XYZ”. Saying it this way lets them know you won’t walk into the role as a flight risk but also lets them know where you want to go long term. You also want to make sure you don’t mention something that obviously won’t be a fit for the company. I have done interviews representing an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and I have had candidates tell me that they are interested in getting into green energy. Now, while I think that is not only cool but extremely important, it does give me pause about their interest in the role we are talking about right now. I am not so naive to believe everyone I talk to is interviewing for their dream role or the last role they ever plan to occupy. However if someone says something like that I immediately wonder where else they are interviewing and I try to think about the probability for success if we were to both offer this candidate the role. Make sure you have a well thought out answer ready and be prepared to deliver it enthusiastically.
Well there you have it. Those are my 5 important interview questions you must be prepared to answer. However you decide to answer these questions make sure you are sure of your answers and you answer the questions with both conviction and passion. Ok, so how many of you guessed the questions. Feelm free to comment below with how many you got right. Thanks for reading and as always, have an awesome day!