Preparing for the first job interview can be overwhelming. No matter how well prepared you are, there can always be a few unexpected questions coming your way. Some are tricky while others are designed to put you on the spot to see how you react. Then, there are those that don’t have a right or wrong answer: these questions are designed to understand your thought process. With these, how you react is as crucial as what you say when you answer.
These questions have a purpose. Since you are at your first job interview and have no work experience, these questions will mostly be asked to understand your personality and characteristics.
Let’s take a look at some of the common yet tricky questions that employers often ask, along with advice on how to respond to each of them.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
Employers often ask this question to elicit several data points: your personality type, how confident you are in your self-perception, and whether you’re fit for the job. This question can be a bit challenging because you don’t know what personality type the employer is seeking. There is a fine line between self-admiration and self-confidence. People are multifaceted, so defining oneself in one adjective can seem impossible. So proceed cautiously; use this as an opportunity to describe how your best attributes are a great match for the job.
For instance, if you are applying for a technical position and you are good at adapting to different situations easily, then you can describe yourself as ‘agile’. If problem-solving comes come naturally to you and you’re applying for a programming job then you can even describe yourself as an ‘analytical person’. Depending upon your strengths and the type of role you are applying for, you need to come up with a few suitable descriptions.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This again is a tricky question. Your strengths and weaknesses say a lot about who you are as a person. The interviewer is looking for deal-breaker and red-flags. Each role has its unique requirements, so make sure your answers showcase strengths that fit the requirements. Your weaknesses should always have a silver lining. For instance, maybe you can’t multitask but you are good at focusing on one project at a time and delivering error-free work.
Why do you want to work here?
Hiring managers often ask this question because they want to judge your level of interest in the job. They want to see if you have taken the time to research the company and understand their culture. Interviewers know that your first job is very important for your career trajectory; if you don’t fit the company’s culture, you will not be motivated to perform. They also want to know that you understand their vision and want to be a part of it. When the interviewer asks this question, respond with skills that correspond closely with the company’s mission.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
You may have already said why you want to work for this company but interviewers test you further by asking this question. For instance, if your five-year goal is to become a financial advisor, then it would be hard for them to believe that the position of an IT manager would be a good fit for your career strategy. Additionally, companies invest a lot of resources in hiring and training a candidate for a particular role; they don’t want to hire someone who is already planning to leave for a better opportunity the minute it comes along.
So, always use this question as an opportunity to talk convincingly about why you want to invest the next five years in the company you are interviewing at.
To sum it up, these questions might look very simple on the face of it but as you may have realized, they can be quite tricky. You’d do good to not take answers to these questions for granted; but instead, use them as an opportunity to help the interviewers see the best in you.