In all of the interviews you lead in your life, there will be questions you find yourself using time and time again. Overworked questions such as “what are your strengths/weaknesses?” and “why should we hire you?”. And yet, even though these questions are incredibly cliché, there’s a reason they are relied upon.
A candidate’s response to these questions proves whether they have taken the time to prepare themselves for the interview and think up original and interesting answers. This is what the interviewer is looking (and hoping) for: someone to stand out.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of cliché questions and what the interviewer is really looking for as an answer…
What are your biggest strengths?
Tailor your answers to the job you’re interviewing for. Job descriptions often list soft skills as requirements – if you do indeed share these skills then use an example of when you used them to accomplish something.
What are your biggest weaknesses?
Avoid giving a strength disguised as a weakness such as “I’m a perfectionist” or “I don’t have any”. Confess to a real weakness and then recover with a positive example of how you manage or minimise the weakness.
What’s your proudest achievement/accomplishment?
Keep to the point of your meeting. Whilst it may be true, do not use “my family” as a response to this question. Use an accomplishment that you achieved in a previous role and demonstrate your success and passion for work.
Tell me about yourself…
An interview is not an appropriate time or place for your life story. Interviewers are looking for relevant information (to the company, position, your work background, future career goals, etc.). Briefly explain who you are, where you’ve been working, and where/what you want to be.
Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?
“Working for you” is a poor clichéd response, so do not use it. Employers understand that you have dreams and goals that may lead you elsewhere. Use your answer to reassure the interviewer that you’re invested in the career path and express a desire for a long-term career with their company.
One last question…
Are clichéd answers the result of clichéd questions?
Yes. And no. As the interviewer, if you ask cliché questions then you can expect cliché responses from the majority of your interviewees. However, there will be candidates that do not fall into the trap. The ones to hire are the ones that are prepared with original and genuine responses.