The Fundamentals of Good Job Interviews | Q & A
A lot of the fundamentals of job hunting have changed in the last 50 years. Certainly, the internet has had a huge impact on how you conduct your search. But a successful search will end with an interview, and interviews are what get you hired. Interviewing skills remain a cornerstone of a successful search for employment, and the rules have remained pretty consistent. It all boils down to the questions you ask, and the answers you provide.
Let’s start with three questions you can pretty much expect to encounter, and how best to respond.
Who Are You?
- First is some variation on “tell me about yourself.” Interestingly, even though it’s probably the single most common interview question, a lot of job seekers seem completely unprepared for it. The simple key to answering this question is to remember the “question behind this question:” why should we hire you? In other words, what makes you different than other people with similar qualifications.
What’s Your Biggest Weakness?
- A lot of people (interviewers and interviewees) dislike this question, but it remains common. First, the two worst ways to answer the question are to deny having any weaknesses or to present strength as if it’s a weakness. (Interviewers’ #1 pet peeve answer: “I’m just too much of a perfectionist.”)
- The simple key here is to volunteer something that 1. is true, 2. is relevant to work, and 3. is not something that would have a huge impact on your job performance. Also, try to answer it in such a way that you address how you have worked to overcome the weakness, and perhaps even turned it into a success story.
What’s Your Career History?
- If you have any short-term job stints on your resume, be prepared to talk about them, especially if there’s a pattern of short gigs. There aren’t really any cut-and-dried rules about the explanations you offer, but try to keep an employer’s perspective in mind. They don’t want to hear complaints about former bosses or employers. They will be understandably concerned if it looks like you jump any time someone offers you more money. And they will be suspicious of answers that don’t really seem to make sense or be good enough reasons to quit a job.
- In contrast, there are answers that demonstrate qualities employers like, such as the desire for professional growth. And there are answers that really can’t be questioned, such as “the company went out of business,” or “I had to move back to Chicago for family reasons.”
Questions to Ask.
Many interviewers place more stock in the questions you ask than answers you give. Here are some great questions that will set you apart and help you better understand the job and the company:
- What does success look like 90 days out? 6 months out? A year out?
- What are the “soft skills” that will help me succeed in this role?
- Tell me about the company’s culture.
- What is it that you personally like best about working here?
- How is your company adapting to the latest employment trends? (Be prepared to identify specific trends if they ask for more details!)
- What does the rest of your hiring process look like?
Additional tips about your questions and your answers in interviews.
- When answering a question, it can be difficult to gauge how much detail the interviewer wants. Err on the side of brevity. You can always end with “I can go into more detail if you like.” (Just don’t repeat that too many times through the interview.)
- Always save at least one really good question for the end of the interview. Usually, one of the wrap-up steps involves the interviewer asking if you have any questions. Even if you have been asking good questions all along if you say “no, I think you have answered them all,” the interviewer’s final thought maybe “hmmm… no questions.”
- Anytime you can answer a question with a story that illustrates the answer to the question, do so. If about your communication skills, demonstrate your communication skills by sharing an example of a time when your verbal and writing skills helped you resolve a serious problem at work.
- When you ask questions, it’s always good to take notes as the interviewer responds. It makes a positive impression. Plus, your notes can help you remember ideas that seem to be important to them, useful for any future interviews.
Resumes are important, so are networking and knowing how to search for jobs online. But at the end of the day, hiring decisions are made primarily based on impressions formed in job interviews. Knowing how to answer challenging questions and what questions to ask can give you a real advantage in landing that next great gig in the food and beverage industry!
Kinsa Group’s food industry recruiters and our broad network of food industry executives are always looking for top talent and we’d like to help you find the best opportunity to match your skills. Submit your resume today to secure your future.
This blog was written by George Blomgren, Kinsa Group Recruiting Manager.