Interview questions, translated

What your interviewer really wants to know from you

Most interviews don't last too long—on average they're only about 40 minutes. That means you—the interviewee—need to pack the time full of reasons to hire you. 

In a post for Forbes, Richard Hanson breaks down what interviewers are looking for and how to frame your answers to various probes.

"No matter how complex some interviewing methods may sound, it's important to remember that most interviewers have no interest in trying to trick you or catch you out," Hanson says.

Question No. 1: Are you qualified for the position?

The interviewer likely will ask you about technical skills necessary to the role, such as knowing how to use a specific software or typing speed. Some interviewers will also question you about your current responsibilities and role.

How to answer: Yes I am.

Your CV should highlight pertinent skills. Go beyond what the job posting requests and use personal knowledge to determine what competencies are needed. Be sure to spotlight your achievements at work to show a proven track record.

Question No. 2: How's your attitude?

Great technical skills aren't always enough, so interviewers may try to determine what your outlook generally is and may choose to hire a candidate with fewer current skills, but more to offer in the long-term.

Answer: Positive and 'can-do.'

Be careful with your tone, especially if someone asks you a hard question or zeroes in on a weak point in your CV. Stay calm and open—it's OK to say you don't know or that you have room to improve in certain areas.

"What matters to them, is that an individual is prepared to put in the effort in order to produce the best possible outcomes for themselves and the company. A positive attitude is a key indicator of this," Hanson writes.

Question No. 3: Will you get along with other employees?

Interviewers also will try to determine whether you'll be a good cultural fit at the company.

"Often this comes down to whether your skill set and personality complement the talents of your potential team members," Hanson writes.

Answer No. 3: I hope to.

Hanson suggests not preparing for this question and instead to just be yourself.

How to spot emotionally intelligent people in an interview

"A good interviewer should know the personalities of your potential co-workers better than you, and if they decide that you wouldn’t work well with them, then the chances are that you have made a lucky escape from an unhappy work environment," he writes.

Question No. 4: What do you know about the company?

The interviewer wants to know whether you've tried to understand the company's mission and goals.

Answer: Yes indeed.

Research the company's products, services, developments, and mission statements—as well as your interviewers' backgrounds.

"In a practical sense, you will feel far more fulfilled in your work, if you believe in the company you are working for," Hanson writes.

Question No. 5: How much do you care about this interview?

The interviewer wants to know you're actually interested in the position—not just polishing your interviewing skills, exploring your options, or looking for a competing offer to up your salary in your current position.

"Any sniff of insincerity on your behalf will almost certainly blow your chances of success," he says.

Answer: A lot.

Show your interviewer you care by arriving on time or early and asking well thought-out questions. Be sure to ask about the next steps in the interview process as well (Hanson, Forbes, 7/18). 

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