Interviews vary from sector to sector, department to department in companies, however some questions keep being asked. At face value these open ended questions seem easily answered however sometimes they can catch you out. So how do you answer them?
“Tell me about yourself?” This is one of the most open ended questions you can be asked. You may think the question includes subjects such as your favourite film, your favourite sport, previous relationships and whether or not you play the lottery; but does the interviewer want to know most of that? Not really. Not only is it usually irrelevant but it’s also pretty mundane, they’re not going to employ you because you love line dancing on a Saturday night, they’re going to employ you because you’re the right person for the job. Make sure when you are telling the interviewer about yourself that you keep your answers relevant and in context.
“What are your weaknesses?” Why they ever started asking this in the first place confuses me, luckily it is becoming less common to ask this question. If you do get this question, be careful not to state a weakness that you cannot make a comment on what you are doing to improve.
There are several ways to answer this question. You can say a false negative, i.e. “I strive for perfection, which can lead me to focus too much”, it may seem bad but actually it’s good. Alternately you could answer with a weakness you know you have (after all no one is perfect) but making sure that you include that you are actively working on it and adapting to change i.e. “I tend to pay a lot of attention to detail and this can lead me to focus too much on a specific detail, however I am working on this and by taking a different approach am enabling myself to see the bigger picture”.
Some interviews now include questions that require you to think outside the box. Questions such as; “How many people are on Facebook in San Francisco on Friday at 2.30pm?” Asked by Google and; “If you were a Microsoft program, which one would you be?”, Asked by Summit Racing Equipment, are increasingly being used in the design and technology sectors . The object of these questions isn’t for you to give a definitive answer but to compose an answer using your creative and reasoning skills. As long as you can back up your answers with reason, you won’t/can’t be proved wrong. Take your time; think about not only your answer but also your reasoning behind your answer.