What employers are really trying to find out about you in job interviews
- “Tell me about yourself?”
“Why are you interested in this job?”
“What do you know about our company?”
These are among the questions you will be asked in pretty much every job interview. Fortunately for you, we tell you how best to answer them in a recent article.
Here’s something else to keep in mind when answering these questions, which also include “What is your biggest weakness?” and “Why did you leave your last job?” — All these questions are just a means to finding out three specific things*:
Can you do the job?
Can we work with you?
Will you stick around long enough to make hiring you worthwhile?
That’s it. Those are the three questions you have to answer in the job interview. Let’s break them down.
Can you do the job? This is priority numero uno. It’s a job. You must be able to do it. Ideally, they want someone who can do the job well, amazingly even, and take the organization to a whole other level. But, really, everyone just wants to know whether you can do the job that needs to be done.
This will be reflected in your experience and the work you have done in the past. Make sure you’re able to showcase your ability in the best possible light. It’s also demonstrated in your answers to questions about your interest in the position and your level of knowledge about the company. The latter speaks to your level of dedication and motivation, as well as your general knowledge of your own field.
Go in knowing how you will demonstrate that you can do the job.
Can we work with you? You spend as much time with your coworkers as you do with your family, if not more. You have to get along with each other. For most grownups this should not be terribly difficult. All you have to do is be nice and treat people with respect. But the hiring manager doesn’t know if you know how to get along with people, so you have to show them. This is demonstrated in your behaviour, obviously, as well as in the answers to queries like “Tell me about yourself,” and “Tell me about a challenging situation you encountered at work and how you handled it?”
There is also the element of hiring for “fit” with company culture, and there are only a limited number of actions you can take for that. You can ask around and find out what the culture is like, and show up for the interview dressed accordingly. But unless you want to live a permanent lie, you probably don’t want to pretend to be a pop music and football fanatic if your favourite band is Fleet Foxes and your favourite sport the New York Times crossword puzzle.
Go in knowing how you will demonstrate that people can work with you.
Will you stick around long enough to make hiring you worthwhile? Job hopping every two years or so is the new normal, and there’s often little loyalty between employees and companies these days. We know this. Still, employers want to know that, if they find someone who can do the job and that they can work with, that person isn’t going to jump ship six months after they’re hired. Hiring costs time and money, after all.
A candidate for a six-month contract at Workopolis recently asked in the interview, “How much notice do you need if I want to leave?” In other words, “I’m interviewing for a six month contract and I’m not even going to commit to that.” He did not get the job.
Demonstrating your enthusiasm for the position by showing that you have done your research into the company goes a long way here. You need to demonstrate that you are reliable, trustworthy, enthusiastic, and motivated.
Go in ready to show that hiring you will be worthwhile.
Of course, you can do the job, you’re a joy to work with, and you are totally reliable. I know it and you know it. Now you just have to let the employer know it. You can do it. I have faith in you.
*These are close to three things I wrote about in the past, based on a Forbes article. But now I’ve had more time to think about it, so this is better.