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Don't Let Common Interview Questions Trip You Up

Don't Let Common Interview Questions Trip You Up

Author: Moe Harrison /Wednesday, November 06, 2019/Categories: SNI Companies, SNI Financial, For Job Seekers, SNI Certes, For Job Seekers, SNI Technology, Accounting Now, Staffing Now

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Interviewers and their styles can be all over the map, but there are some common questions you will likely have posed to you in an interview. With those come some bear traps you need to be careful of.

I will break some of these down and provide you some guidance on how to navigate the answers. It’s important to analyze and even rehearse your answers ahead of time so you can be as confident as your interview nerves will let you. While we will give you some tips and suggestions, the most important thing is to remain true and focused on who you are and have your answers represent you in the best light possible.

So, tell me about yourself?
This one can trip up a lot of people because they simply don’t know how broad to be in their answer? Should they stay totally focused on their professional track record or is the interviewer trying to gain insight in to both their professional and personal experiences? How much detail should they go in to which leads in to how long should their answer be? Let’s start with this overarching guideline. Your answers in an interview setting should never be more than 45 seconds to a minute for any question. I also suggest sticking to only professional details. If the interviewer wants to know more they will typically ask further questions. That said, you might look online at the website of the company you are interviewing at and research what their culture and values are. Sometimes they stress personal values along with their work goals and objectives. If they do reference that think about which of those values align with you if there’s an opportunity to bring it up in the interview.

What’s your biggest Weakness?
Don’t be the cliché who says their biggest weakness is that they are a workaholic or a perfectionist who just does not quite until they get it right. It’s overplayed and rarely accurate so it comes off as canned. Instead think about real challenges you’ve faced in the past and how you overcame those challenges. The trick is to turn that weakness into your strength. Maybe you were a nervous public speaker in your early professional years, as most people are, but you have worked hard to overcome that by taking Toastmasters classes and now feel effective even if you aren’t quite Tony Robbins. This shows you are willing to take charge and improve your life and career. Another scenario may be that your biggest weakness is your lack of experience something most at your level may not have experience with, but that you are looking for opportunities to gain exposure and knowledge with whatever that may be.

Why did you leave your last job?
Honesty is the most important thing here. The truth usually comes out and you don’t want to be caught in a lie if you have a less that ideal departure story. Things like mass layoffs happen and the interviewer is going to have interviewed many other people who experienced the same thing. Share what you are comfortable with and be honest. Explain what happened and perhaps what you learned from it. However, always be sure you don’t come across as negative. It’s a real turn off when I ask this question and the first thing out of the candidate’s mouth is “I don’t want to speak negatively about a former employer, but….” And then they proceed to do exactly that for the next 2 minutes.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Here you want to show you are ambitious and looking to grow with the company, but not have it appear as if you expect to be expeditiously promoted thru the organization such that you may not be happy in any position for very long. Most roles require 2-3 years of experience before you’re ready to make the next leap so think 2 jobs ahead in this scenario. Make your goal in line with the job you are applying for, not a job in a completely different department and make it something realistic. Convey what you can and will bring to the team now and how those traits will help take you to the place you’d like to be in 5 years.

As I mentioned earlier practicing, as with everything in life, makes you a better performer. Go over your resume and know what areas might look like they need explaining or clarification and be prepared to speak to that. Keep your answers to 45 seconds to a 1 min. Try to being your personality in to your answers. No one likes canned interview responses. Finally, bring a high level of energy or enthusiasm to the meeting and be clear in confirming your interest in the role if indeed you are interested when the interview is done. Good luck!


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Moe Harrison
Moe Harrison

Moe Harrison

Moe Harrison is a Regional Vice President with SNI. With more than 15 years’ experience in recruiting and personnel management, Moe has a unique perspective on the top issues and concerns of employers and candidates in the accounting and finance fields.

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Full biography

Moe Harrison is a Regional Vice President with SNI. With more than 15 years’ experience in recruiting and personnel management, Moe has a unique perspective on the top issues and concerns of employers and candidates in the accounting and finance fields.

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