The coronavirus pandemic really did a number on all of our lives, both professional and personal. Perhaps what it highlighted most was the radical change that transformed the way we work and what our job prospects look like. Even as we are well on our way to taking control of our lives once more – eg. the mass vaccination plans, a potential COVID relief bill, and more – there still exists a lot of unpredictable variables that may affect the job economy as we know it.
As we’ll probably still be feeling the ripple effects of 2020 for a while, securing a job has never been more essential to survive. A job means a stable flow of income, a means of making ends meet, and blankets you in some form of comfort that you know you’re still going to have food on your table and a roof over your head.
While hiring trends have been going off the rails depending on the industry, some industries that haven’t been as affected by the pandemic will remain as they have in their previous years, with only minor adjustments here and there.
The best way to get your foot in the door has always been a constant for any job seeker: networking and developing your skills. The stakes may be just a little higher this time, but the concept is still very much the same.
Now that you have secured that job interview, make sure you are granted an all-access pass once you nail your interview by following these tips on how to answer the hiring personnel’s questions!
Standard, by the book questions
Tell me about yourself?
Anyone who has ever applied for a job or supervised one know all too well about the dreadful ice-breaker that is “Tell me about yourself.” But don’t break out into a sweat just yet, it might be one of the most disarming questions the company can use to gauge how you express yourself, so there’s really no wrong or right answer.
The “tell me about” questions are also classic examples of situational interview questions. The interviewer wants to know about how you handled yourself in a past situation and uses that answer to gauge your experience and skills.
According to a survey by resume website Zety of more than 500 hiring managers and 1,000 workers, you’re more likely than not to cop this open-ended question, which is favoured by 60 percent of interviewers.
What challenges did you face in your previous job and how did you overcome them?
Then there come the other non-committal, industry-standard follow-up questions about the challenges you faced at your previous job and the solution you came up with to solve them. It’s a fairly easy and open-ended question that allows you an opportunity to show off your superb problem-solving skills and how you handle situations under pressure.
You simply present a previous work situation that needed some finesse to solve, explain how you came up with such a solution, and finally close with how it all benefitted your employer in the end. This way, the hiring committee can visualize what methods you take when presented with its unlikely situations and how you compartmentalize in the process.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
While the “strengths and weaknesses” questions are essentially the trickiest to navigate, it’s also a great avenue for you to showcase certain tricks up your sleeve and which areas you admit still need improvement on.
You have to be humble enough, but also be able to do it in a way you don’t come off as too modest. Stay as close to the truth as you can, because genuine answers will show and you will feel more relaxed talking about your traits in such a way it only feels natural to do so. When you give a real answer, you are being genuine. You are admitting you have some growth opportunities and are not perfect. But you can include that you already have a plan to overcome this weakness through training or practice.
Don’t underestimate the power of these “boring, standard questions” – because when done right, it can be your golden ticket into being hired. If you answer with sincerity and demonstrate a high level of intellect with your unique answers and justified decision-making process, you can set your answer apart from the other ones.
Unusual, unconventional questions
If you are suddenly asked a seemingly bizarre question in the middle of your interview, don’t panic.
Take a deep breath and maintain a calm composure. Sometimes, most odd interview questions are made to assess your critical thinking skills. There is usually no “right” or “wrong” answer, so much as there is only your unique spin on it. If you are caught off guard and come up blank, don’t think you have failed just yet. Explain your reasoning for these left-field questions out loud to demonstrate your thought process, even if you sometimes struggle to arrive at the answer. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions at any point.
While some of these out-of-the-blue questions do carry some form of deeper meaning, like asking about someone’s exercise habits can be a prelude to knowing about their stress management methods, they are all beneficial to the hiring process. Throwing a potential candidate some oddball questions meant to throw them off balance and see how they respond is one of the many tools they use to gauge your mental agility.
It also gives you the chance to think outside the box and take a creative spin on answering non-traditional questions. It engages your ability to think on your feet and show how well you manage to still be grace under pressure.
Tim Soulo, CMO at Ahrefs, demonstrates exactly what it means to throw someone off guard with his unorthodox questioning methods by hoping to gain an insight into their sense of self-sufficiency and responsibility.
As the pandemic temporarily alters the way employers think about work, especially remote working, it’s better off having a source of income that you can steadily rely on during these unstable times than not having any at all.
Job hunting is a particularly arduous task that will require more than a day’s effort to yield results and job interviews can be especially intimidating, but if you just keep these tricks of the trade in mind you’ll be securing your next paycheck in no time!