Work and Career

What Interviewers Really Mean When They Ask You These Questions

You may think that they are routine job interview questions, but employers and recruiters ask them because they want to know whether or not you are the person that they are looking for. How well or how poorly you answer these questions can make the decision for them on whether to hire you or look for another candidate. Here’s what they really mean when interviewers ask you the following questions.

Can you tell me something about yourself?

They want to know if you’re really qualified for the job that you’re applying for. It also roughly translates to the question ‘Why do you think we should hire you?’ Although the interviewers might really want to know what your favorite colors or hobbies are, they usually want to know whether you have what it takes to fulfill the role. The next time you get asked this question, think about your own lengthier and more detailed version of an elevator pitch.

What do you consider as your biggest weakness?

If in the past employers will be satisfied with answers that demonstrate how much of a perfectionist you are or even having weaknesses that are actually strengths in the workplace, now, employers want to hear about actual struggles you’ve had to deal with and what you’ve done to conquer these struggles. They’re no longer satisfied with answers like “I work too hard,” or “I don’t like work that’s half-baked”. They want concrete answers with concrete examples.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Employers want to know if you have really given much thought to your career and your decision to join the company. They want to know if you’re here for the long haul and if you plan to stay and grow with the company. Although it’s nice to answer it with something like having your own house, building your own family, or earning your master’s degree, it’s also a positive point to mention holding a stable managerial position or spearheading a new department at your interviewer’s company.

Why did you leave your last job?

Employers also want to know what your experience was like with your previous job and whether you left with happy memories or with bad blood. This question enables employers to get a glimpse of your relationship with your former bosses and colleagues and whether it was a job that you really loved or detested. It can also be a pretty good indicator of how you’ll be as an employee of the new company should they choose to hire you.

Don’t ever badmouth your previous companies or previous bosses, because this is a red flag. Nothing is more unprofessional than an ex-employee who has nothing good to say about the last company who hired them.

Whatever question that you raise will show how much research you did about the company and the job position that you’re applying for, so, no, this is not the time to ask about salary. Instead, ask about the job role and whether there will be opportunities for advancement. Show your personality and your desire and seriousness to know more about the job.

Rouselle Isla

Contributor at Kami
Rouselle Isla

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