When I moved to Pittsburgh, I faced the daunting task of trying to find employment in a system radically removed from what I considered the norm. No more “good ol’ boy” network. No more getting a job simply because I could breathe. No more starting work the day I applied. Now I actually had to interview, talk to people, and worst of all, answer questions.
I missed out on more than a few great jobs at first because when presented with typical interview questions (or atypical, looking at you Google), I froze, unsure how to answer them. Short range goals? Occupational priorities? Turns out, “having enough money for lunch” isn’t a great short term goal. Well, at least for the interview question. Seems like an important goal to me though.
So don’t be like me, and leave you deer in the headlights stare at home. The next time you go on a job interview, be prepared to address the following questions, even though they may never be asked.
- “What are your short range goals?” When confronted with that question there are many different answers, and you need to answer it in an honest, direct way. One response to that question is to say, “Mr. Employer, I am looking for an opportunity that would allow me to utilize my skills in (fill in the blank), and help a company grow. The simplest way to look at that is to remember that employers want to hire people that can either help a company make money, save money, or protect their good name.
- “What are your long range goals?” The answer to that question should focus on what you see yourself doing 5+ years down the road. It could be eventually moving into a more responsible position, or improving your skills. Most employers look for candidates that have some degree of ambition.
- “What are your occupational priorities?” This is code for what are you looking for in your next position. The answer should NOT be more money or better benefits. The best answers center around growth, challenges, opportunity, and contributions you can make to the company.
- “What are your strengths?” You need to evaluate what your strengths are and how an employer can benefits by those strengths. It is very important that before you go on a job interview that you access what you bring to the table. Remember as we have said before, employers hire people that can either help them make money, save money, or protect the company’s good name.
- “What are your weaknesses? The classic answer to that age old question is to address weaknesses that tie into your strengths. An example would be, my strength is my ability to multi-task, and my weakness is, I multi task so well that at times I take on too much.
- “What kind of money are you looking for?” The best answer to that question is to say, “Mr. Employer, I am open and flexible. I am looking for the right opportunity.” It is best to avoid blurting out a figure. If you do you may under sell yourself, or knock yourself out of the running.
These are the big questions you’re most likely to run into while on an interview. They’re pretty standard. If you interview with someone who thinks they’re smart, and asks you weird questions, just stay calm, think about the question, then try to present yourself in the best possible light. Remember, they’re only asking these questions to see how you react under pressure. So don’t give them the satisfaction of cracking like an egg.