Here are some which I get asked about regularly at job fairs and seminars.
Question 1: What are your weaknesses?
Now the cliche answer is some variant on bragging. “People tell me I work too hard.” That will disqualify you as dumb in many hiring managers’ eyes. But what do you really say?
The best answers are those where you can talk about a weakness you are working on. Maybe you hate to give presentations but work in an area where they are necessary. An answer which talks to the fact that you are nervous doing presentations so you have taken the following three steps to improve, or gotten a coach/a mentor, or taken a speaking seminar, or joined Toastmasters, all would be good ways to approach this question.
The formula is: You know you need to do X better and you have been working to improve via specific actions.
Question 2: Have you talked to your current boss about other job options, rather than looking externally? And if not, why not?
As companies become more concerned about turnover, hiring managers tend to ask questions like this to see if you look like someone who will jump ship at the first opportunity.
Yet many bosses do not want to talk about career options with you, especially in this economy. And some companies mark you as a problem if you even bring up dissatisfaction. What are you to do?
Be honest but positive. No comments about your boss being a jerk or your company not recognizing your value. If you have talked about your career with your boss, say so. And then say that there is not the career growth you seek or your company is not growing. If you have not talked to anyone about your career, say so. But have some explanation – that your boss is known to hate to lose people from his team, or you like the company but it is not a good cultural fit for you. And if you are looking at internal opportunities, say that too.
And whenever possible, do talk about the positives. You have been at your current job for X years and have grown your skills. You have been promoted within your company. You seek a place to continue to grow and contribute!
Question 3: Where do you expect to be in five years?
This is a golden oldie and you might think in the current economy that no one would ask it. But some hiring managers still do.
So despite a desire to say “in your boss’s job,” don’t. Talk about what is important to you. For example: to be in a job where you are still working on the leading edge of technology; to have grown your product skills and contributions; to be developing into a program manager. The critical issue is to demonstrate that you have actually thought about your career and have ideas about the aspects which matter to you. This video may also help:
Titles, job levels, and other status related issues are not going to help you here. Interest in growth and development or further education, plus some basic planning and the ability to contribute to the organization, are.