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And why do you need to know the reasons for asking these questions!


I’m one of these people that likes to know why! It’s good to be curious right?  So, I thought I’d share the reasons why these common questions get asked.  Why do interviewers ask these questions?

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is your ideal day?

When recruiters and hiring managers ask these questions they aren’t asking for your life story.  They don’t need to know how many children you have or whether you are married, single or dating or your favourite place to go at weekends!

The ‘Tell me about yourself’ question isn’t an invitation to share any personal information.  Hiring managers should never be asking anything about your personal characteristics anyway.  None of the above give the recruiter information to assess your ability to do the job. This information is unlawful and irrelevant to the decision-making process.

When you are actively seeking a new job, you need to keep in mind the purpose of the interview. In its simplest terms, they are looking for the right skills, experience and knowledge for that job.

Tell me about yourself?

Some candidates consider this to be a very simple question and get caught out. Other candidates will be sent in a spin and get caught out. Either way, it’s often a missed opportunity. Remember the main purpose for an interview – to find the right person, with the right skills, at the right time.

They are looking for someone who can do the job, fit in with the team and the company and be genuinely motivated to do the job. So, for that reason this question is an ideal opportunity to start painting the picture that you are the right candidate.

This is why it’s absolutely critical for your success during an interview that you prepare for this question. Review the job advert and description and match your experience, knowledge and skills. Prepare a short, concise and snappy answer to give an overview of your most relevant career experience.

Tell us your strengths and weaknesses?

This might sound obvious why an interviewer might ask this question….to find out your strengths and weaknesses of course! Yes, but there is more to this question. They are checking whether you have read and understood the job requirements. Your answer to this question will also demonstrate whether you have taken the time to prepare which in turn demonstrates you are genuinely interested and motivated for the job.

Again, it’s absolutely essential you prepare your answers to the actual job. Don’t be tempted to do this exercise in isolation. If you throw out some over prepared list of strengths and weaknesses, it might not match exactly to what they are looking for in the skill set. This is still a very commonly asked interview question and if you don’t prepare it tells the interviewers a lot about the way you work.

What does your ideal day look like?

Recently working with a group of individuals leaving the armed services and they really didn’t understand the reasons for this question.

“My ideal day would be lying on a beach with a beer!” was one of their answers.

That might well be the case but remember who is asking the question. Not your friends in the pub. The person asking the question is a recruiter with a clear purpose. To understand what type of job, company and environment would best suit your expectations.  Surely, you would prefer to work in a job and company you fit.

I know some of you will be thinking. You could talk yourself out of a job here if you don’t describe the match to what they are recruiting. Yes, you absolutely could be self-screening. That might even be the recruiter’s intention to help you understand this might not be the ideal job for you. Think about it? Wouldn’t you rather be in a job and company you are happy?

A good recruiter probably wouldn’t ask such a direct question. They understand that a candidate with a well-prepared script will just describe the job they are applying – some word for word! No point asking a clever candidate. A good recruiter will be gathering information about a candidate’s motivation and de-motivation throughout the interview.

Conclusion

These interview questions are still asked today.  Everyone needs to take the time to prepare for an interview. Everyone needs to prepare for these commonly asked questions.  Whether you are confident or quiet.  If you are particularly introvert then you’ll need to prepare to be sure you share enough evidence with the recruiters. If you are extrovert and confident, you’ll need to prepare concise and punchy answers. It demonstrates you are genuinely interested in the job and the company and are taking the process seriously. Rightly or wrongly, recruiters will have a perception about candidates that don’t prepare. They may think that person isn’t really bother about getting the job or not.

About Dawn Moss

Dawn has worked in a corporate environment for over ten years providing Recruitment & Selection Services, and has been involved in Coaching & Educating Business Leaders, Managers and Employees in all aspects of the recruitment process.

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