With millions of people in the job market these days, many Americans are finding that it can be hard to get a phone call from a prospective employer and even harder to get an opportunity for an interview. Today’s tight job market demands that job-seekers make the most of every step in the process by making the best possible impression along the way.
When job-seekers apply for openings today, many of them post resumes or submit applications online through web-based data sites. A growing number of companies are using software for HR departments, such as HRMS software, that allows them to narrow the pool of applicants. If you make it past that initial online screening, you may be called for an interview. Make sure you are prepared to answer these three common – and often dreaded – interview questions.
1. Why did you leave your old job?
It may sound like a trick question, and it can be. No employer wants to hire a whiner, so resist the temptation to spout off with a laundry list of complaints about your old company. No matter how bad the job was, complaining will only alienate the interviewer. Instead, be truthful and straightforward, but be positive. Some sample responses include: I was looking for a job with greater challenges. I wanted to work for a large company with more opportunities for advancement. I wanted to work for a small company with a family atmosphere. I wanted to better utilize my education and training.
2. What is your greatest weakness?
It is best not to offer responses that are painfully honest or overly negative. This isn’t the time to confess that you are routinely late for work or that you make a lot of sloppy mistakes. Instead, you can offer a shortcoming that isn’t a fatal flaw, or you can suggest a weakness that you are trying to improve. Some examples could be: I wasn’t a good writer in college, but I have become better at producing team reports. Public speaking is not one of my strengths, but I have learned to make effective company presentations.
3. Where do you expect to be five years from now?
Employers want to know that they can depend on you to be a stable member of their workforce. If your plans suggest otherwise, don’t bring them up in the interview. It probably won’t help to mention that you plan to own your own company or to be a stay-at-home mom. Focus on achievable goals that will be beneficial to the employer. Some ideas might include: I would like to be your very best salesman. I want to learn more so that I can become an expert in my field. I hope to be a team leader or manager.