Categories: Lime Connect Q & A: Your Questions. Our Answers.
You spend hours preparing for an interview. You know your resume inside and out. You feel comfortable answering behavioral-based questions and have lots of stories ready to share in your back pocket. But something you can't know for sure is the intent behind an interviewer's question. What are they really getting at when they ask you "tell me about a time you failed"? Well you can't know for certain, but you could take a guess and try to tailor your answer to their motive.
Recently, a Lime Network member asked me about the interview question, "who, in your eyes, is a great leader?". He had just completed an interview where he was asked this question. Given recent news, he mentioned Nelson Mandela. This is a good answer, but may not be the best answer. The interviewer was likely not looking to see if this network member is up on current events or whether he gets inspired by great figures. Instead the interviewer likely wants to know whether the interviewee is thoughtful about leadership and has some concrete leadership practices and perspectives that he will implement in a new position. The Network member might, instead, have spoken about a past manager or company executive and what he learned from that person. He might have described what this manager could have done better and how this has informed his own leadership style. I advised him, moving forward, to take a few seconds to try and assess what the interviewer was really trying to learn about him given what he knows of the company and the position.
Let's take a look at some common interview questions and what the motive behind these questions might be:
~ "Tell me about yourself" (they don't want to know everything about you, but specifically how you might be a fit for this position and the company. So share things that will peak this particular interviewer's interest.)
~ "What did you admire about your last manager?" (may be a way to learn about your leadership style)
~ "Where do you see yourself in five years?" (may be a way to see if you are really passionate about the work for which you are interviewing.)
~ "Why did you leave your last job?" (may be a way to learn the kind of employee you are. Are you always seeking challenges and is that what prompted you to leave? Or were you angry and you tend to hold a grudge?)
~ "Tell me about a conflict you had with a coworker and how this conflict was resolved" (beyond learning whether you are a team player they may be assessing whether you can take criticism or how you respond when provoked)
~ "How would your previous manager and co-workers describe you?" (beyond learning about your accomplishments and strengths, they may be assessing level of confidence and your ability to learn from others perspectives)
At your next interview take a breath before you answer the question and quickly ask yourself "what do they really want to know about me?". Of course, honesty is important. You really do want to find a position where you will be a great fit and have a truly happy and meaningful experience. So find a way to balance answering questions honestly with tailoring them to ensure you impress the interviewer!
Have a question you'd like us to address? Email Learning@LimeConnect.com