The following job interview questions bug almost every candidate yet recruiters love asking them! Many of these questions are so dull and tedious that candidates avoid them when practicing for their interview. But these are the questions that almost always make an appearance in the actual job interview and most applicants answer them spontaneously and often don’t notice how honest they are in doing so. And this is probably the exact reason why these questions are firm favourites of many HR bosses.
With a lot of job interview questions, it is often not the question that is important but rather the answer and the candidate’s ability to formulate an argument. Anyone who reacts to a boring interview question with visible disinterest will make a poor impression on the selection committee. Rambling on and giving an exaggerated answer to a dull question will appear cocky and inauthentic. If you don’t have a good answer prepared in advance, you might find yourself stuttering or making statements you didn’t want to make. The good thing about boring and annoying interview questions, however, is that if you do give an original and authentic answer, you’ll be a step ahead of the crowd.
The 6 worst interview questions
1. What is your biggest weakness?
What applicants think: I don’t actually fulfil the main requirement of the job profile, I have a weakness for chocolate and I quickly get annoyed when my colleagues tell me things I don’t like.
What applicants should say: Talking about your own weaknesses in a job interview is a delicate task. However, we all have our weaknesses. If you fail to think of an answer quickly, HR managers might think you lack a sense of self-criticism and spontaneity. Follow these tips and prepare an answer. You should never mention personal weaknesses when faced with this question. Professional skills that are not absolutely necessary for the job you are currently applying for are the most suitable weaknesses to mention. It’s also wise to mention that you are keen to improve on the skills you currently see as your weaknesses.
2. What are you particularly good at?
What applicants think: I’m good at a lot of things, of course, and I’m particularly good at the skills listed in the task profile of the job advertisement –but which of those should I mention now?
What applicants should say: This question is actually very easy to answer. But it’s made a little bit trickier because of all the possible answers you could give. Simply stating the requirements listed in the job advert can appear unconvincing. Limit yourself to one important point, give concrete examples (a project or growth figures) and mention something that is relevant to the job description, your personality and the way you work.
3. Why should we hire you?
What applicants think: Because I need a new job and would like to work with you more than anyone else since you have great projects, pay the most, have a good reputation, etc.
What applicants should say: If you’ve prepared well for the job interview, this is your big chance. This is where you can make a pitch for your dream job. Anyone asking this question wants to see enthusiasm and motivation. Keep it short and stick to concrete facts, tell them about relevant skills and how you achieved goals and targets in the past.
You can stick your neck out a little more if the company values pro-activeness and creativity. Does the company lack in certain departments? Show the interviewer where you can help the company achieve new success. You should also consider what could make you stand out from the other applicants.
4. Describe a professional conflict situation and how you resolved it.
What applicants think: I’d rather not be reminded of that, thanks!
What applicants should say: HR managers are just trying to see whether you are able to work professionally with others, are able to handle criticism and diffuse situations rather than allow them to ignite. It should be obvious that this is not the place to criticise colleagues or bosses. Your anecdote should have a happy end and show that you do not have serious psychopathic characteristics – after all, you’re not applying to be the boss.
5. Why do you want to work for our company?
What applicants think: Because I’ve always wanted to work for this company or similar answers to question 3.
What applicants should say: When the recruiter asks you this question, he or she wants to know: does this applicant really want to work for us, will they be happy with us, do we fit together or will they leave after only 6 months? Ideally, your application to Company X is a logical step in your career and this is obvious from looking at your CV. In that case they will often not ask this question. Otherwise your answer here will say a lot about your motivation, your idea of what the job entails and your career plans. So think long and hard about your answers. There is no single ‘right’ answer to this question. Stick to the truth and be authentic.
6. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
What applicants think: How uncool is that, I don’t make plans. I go with the flow and see where life takes me.
What applicants should say: If you don’t think much of making plans then you could try saying that honestly and make an intelligent argument outlining why that makes more professional sense. HR managers value authenticity and interesting arguments. Alternatively, you could play it safe and mention realistic career goals. Personal plans (i.e. family planning) have a rather off-putting effect, even if no HR manager would ever admit it.
Top tips: You’ll find other examples of responses that you should avoid at all costs here. It is also particularly important that you never answer job interview questions in too much detail or erratically. Keep the interest high with one or two concrete examples. HR managers make notes and analyse both the content and the structure and argumentation of your answers. No-one will be able to note each and every word. What they remember are the examples, the overall impression and certain important keywords.