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The intention behind interview questions

At any job interview, the interviewer is aiming to answer three basic questions about the candidate: are they capable of doing the job (technical competency), why they want the job (motivation) and whether they fit into the organisation (alignment). The interviewer also needs to identify which people will assume responsibilities, take initiative and provide fresh ideas.

In order to navigate this labyrinth, interviewers arms themselves with questions that have a clear purpose. Here are a few examples:

Where do you see yourself in five years? The interviewer is looking for clues about your professional goals and ambitions
Why should I hire you? To check your level of self-confidence.
What are your weaknesses? The interviewer is looking to discover how well you know yourself.
Tell me about yourself. To check your communication skills and see how you present yourself.
If I was to ask your friends to describe you, what would they say? The intention here is to understand whether you are a people person who can speak openly and honestly about themselves.
Tell me about the worst boss you’ve had. To understand how much the candidate learned from previous bad experiences with managers.
Why do you want to work for our organisation? The interviewer wants to know whether the candidate has researched the company or not.
Tell me about a situation in which you failed. Nobody is perfect, so speak honestly about what you learned from that situation. The interviewer wants to hear from you about how you managed the collateral damage from your mistake.
Tell me about a project you worked on and that required analytical thinking. The interviewer is asking you this so you can demonstrate your competence.
What book are you reading at the moment? The interviewer is exploring your intellectual curiosity, your interests and perhaps how you identify with the sector or professional trends.
Tell me about a situation in which you were forced to tackle an ethical dilemma. The interviewer wants to discover your level of ethical conduct and honesty.
Why do you want to leave your current position? The interviewer wants to make sure you won’t leave in six months and that you will be happy in your new job.

HR Analytics
Acciona Human Resources

The most frequently asked questions by interviewers: how do you answer them successfully? (Part 1)

Those of you who have been to several job interviews will know by now that interviewers tend to have a number of favorite questions that they use to compare profiles and come up with the best candidate.

We’ve put together three articles to help you tackle this kind of situation, come up with the right answers to these classic interview questions and come through with flying colors.

This first article looks at the questions that attempt to find out what the candidate is like.

What are your weaknesses?

A word of advice: don’t launch into a long list of your personal weak points. Keep calm and pick out two of them that best lend themselves to be turned into positive qualities for the job for which you’re being interviewed.

What are your strengths?

This is the ideal moment to highlight the things that set you apart from the crowd. Seize the potential that this question holds and focus on four or five of your personal qualities that are best suited for the job.

Do you consider yourself a successful person?

Don’t hesitate: the answer is a resounding “yes”. Being successful doesn’t mean being a control freak. Tell the interviewer about some of your main academic and professional achievements.

Why do you think you are the best candidate?

Careful, you’re not being asked for your strong points (although it’s a good moment to underline them). Start by pointing out why your training makes you the best person for the job. Be enthusiastic; show the interviewer that you really want the job. Moderate enthusiasm goes a long way. Avoid, however, comparing yourself to other candidates: concentrate on bringing out the best in you.

What do you know about this company?

Be sure to do your homework before you turn up for the interview. Browse the company’s website and gather a bit of general information—e.g. what it does, annual turnover, or where it operates—as well as specific details on the post you want. After all, the interviewer wants to know why you want to join the company. Show him that you’re totally clear in your mind.