How to Answer Questions Like "What Kind of Worker Are You?"
Job interviews are designed to find the ideal candidate who is a perfect fit for the position. You might be asked to take one of the different types of personality tests for work or asked psychological questions. Interviews are not meant to be adversarial, yet certain questions can be pitfalls for unwary and unprepared candidates.
Vague and open-ended questions offer you the opportunity to think on your feet and outshine other applicants with your professional, thoughtful responses. Preparing for and practicing to answer tough interview questions will help you ace your meeting with a potential employer.
Give Realistic Answers
Job candidates are not likely to reveal to interviewers that they are lazy, backstabbing bullies. Conversely, you should not puff yourself up with attributes beyond your actual abilities. Bear in mind that the interviewer or your potential bosses will undoubtedly check with your references or former employers.
So it is unwise to credit yourself, for instance, with being a team player when you were, in fact, often at odds with members of your team. Try phrasing answers like, "I'm always trying to improve my teamwork skills."
Give Specific Examples
Your task as a job applicant is to study the job description and figure out the most important skills required for the job, then match up your own skills and experience to those requirements. Prepare yourself with a list of your top strengths and be ready to elaborate on them.
Tailor your list of strengths to the company and the job for which you are applying. If you excel at communication, flexibility, independence, problem solving, organizational skills or creativity, cite specific examples in which you used those qualities to your company’s advantage. Don’t just say you are adaptable; describe how you adjust to working with different superiors or deal with the needs of a variety of clients or customers.
Illustrate your creativity and your ability to learn new skills and technology. For example, you might say, "I visit educational websites and have taken some online courses to improve my technical skills," or "I ask people in other departments what they do so I can make sure I'm able to work closely with other co-workers."
Be Spontaneous With Some Answers
Being prepared and being spontaneous may seem contradictory, but job interview spontaneity can actually be planned. Interviewers have heard all the “canned” answers before. You can tailor your responses to the job you are seeking while still focusing on your distinctive skills. You can turn the tables on your interviewer by asking, "If you can tell what traits you value in employees, and I can give you examples where I am in these areas."
Always Be Truthful
Interviewers often ask about your biggest strengths and weaknesses, and some candidates try to impress by turning a good quality into a “fault,” such as, “I often take on too much responsibility.” Your interviewer will see through this ploy. Instead, single out a real weakness and explain how you are working to overcome it. Remember, your past employers and references might mention your weaknesses, so it is best if you identify and deal with them first.
Be Brief When Answering
Keep your answers short and to the point. Answer the question in a few words and then ask the interviewer if he requires more information. Talking too much may take you off topic. Write a list of keywords on whatever note pad or computer you'll have in front of you during your interview so you can make sure to hit your highlights.
As a long-time newspaper reporter and staff writer, Kay Bosworth covered real estate development and business for publications in northern New Jersey. Her extensive career included serving as editor of a business education magazine for the McGraw-Hill Book Company. The Kentucky native earned a BA from Transylvania University in Lexington.