An interview can be a daunting endeavor. But it doesn’t have to be—especially if you’re well prepared.

We at Masiello Employment have assisted many people in prepping for successful interviews, including advice on the best responses to those “difficult” interview questions. Below you will find some suggestions on how to tackle some of the most common time-honored open-ended questions.

  1. What is your greatest weakness? We all know this question is coming, yet many haven’t worked out a confident Over the years, we’ve been told to answer with a faux weakness that’s really a benefit for your potential employer (“I tend to work too hard and stay too late.”) However, interviewers have gotten wise to this approach and may prompt you to discuss a true weakness. Instead, we suggest you pick an actual personally challenging characteristic, just make sure it is one you have been addressing actively as part of your career growth (“I get nervous speaking my mind in front of large groups.”) And go beyond the weakness to explain what exactly you’re doing to remedy the weakness (“I get nervous speaking up in large groups, but I’m learning to overcome my nerves by always contributing something of value and seeking feedback from my team about the merits of my contributions”). The key here is to identify a weakness as a challenge, then outline the steps you have taken to address the weakness head-on.
  1. Why did you leave your last position/why are you looking to leave your current position? Whatever the reason, be positive. If you have left or are looking to leave a position because of something negative like an abusive boss, don’t even think of mentioning it; focus instead on what you’re hoping to achieve in a new role (“I’ve enjoyed my time at [company name] but I’m looking to work with a new, more dynamic company” or “I appreciated all I learned at [company name], but I’m looking for a position that is more challenging”). If you were laid off or your department was eliminated, mention that, especially if there’s a gap in your employment history, but turn it into a positive (“I was with [company name] for many years and my role was eliminated when one of our biggest clients went out of business; it was difficult at first, but I now appreciate that it’s opened up new opportunities for me, like working with a more dynamic team”). Never EVER speak ill of anyone or anything at your old job as there is zero place for airing your frustrations to a new employer. Look at the positives and the lessons you have learned and bring new energy to your future.
  1. Why do you want to work here? This is not the time to draw a blank. When you sit down for an interview, you should know much more about the opportunity than just the position you’re applying for. By doing copious amounts of research beforehand, gathered from the company’s website, blog, reputation on career boards, and media coverage, you should have a good idea about the company culture and opportunities available. Be sincere yet enthusiastic in your answer, weaving in a few stand-out elements like the company’s history, positive reputation, quality products/services, ground-breaking initiatives, progressive leaders, strong values, and/or impressive growth. Also mention any ways in which your priorities are in line with the company culture, and how your career goals match the position. Imagine yourself in the position and draw on the ways you would create value for that employer. 

Want more interview-acing advice and job-finding insight like this? Of course you do! Give Masiello Employment a call; our recruiting team is available for a free consultation, anytime.