You’ve probably heard that you should never lie to a potential employer during the hiring process. It’s true that not lying is generally sound advice – unless, of course, you actually want to be hired for the job. If that’s the case, then in reality, there are a number of times when honesty isn’t the best policy.
Here are five common job interview questions where fudging the truth is the best strategy.
Tell me about yourself…?
You have many passions and some interesting stories to tell about the places you’ve been and the things you’ve learned along the way. Don’t mention any of them. Employers don’t actually want to know about you.
What they want to know is how your past work experience and accomplishments make you right for this job. Tell them how it’s a great fit for your career progression and why you’d make a great asset to the team.
Why did you leave your last job?
Let’s face it. It is probably because your boss was a jerk, the pay was lousy, and the work was dull as dirt. Don’t tell interviewers any of that. Honesty will just make you sound like a complainer.
Say rather that it was a great opportunity and that you learned a lot there, working with a great team, but you have grown on the job and you are ready to take on new responsibilities. Responsibilities such as this job that you’re interviewing for would provide you.
What is your greatest weakness?
You have trouble showing up on time. You tend to send out angry emails that you regret later. Deadlines are a problem for you. We all have things that we’re not so good at and areas for improvement at work. The job interview isn’t the time to confess them.
Most employers don’t even expect an honest answer to this question. It’s more of a test of your communication style. Obviously, it’s uncomfortable to discuss failings with a stranger, so how do you handle it?
Talk about a skillset that is not vital for the job you are applying for, explain how you’ve struggled with it in the past, and detail the steps you’re taking to overcome the weakness. This shows that you are self-aware and motivated to improve.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
On a beach somewhere. Doing a book tour for that novel you’re secretly working on. At a higher position at a rival company. You’ve got big plans. This conversation is not the best time to discuss them.
Instead, explain how the job you are applying for fits in with your long-term career goals. This will indicate your willingness to stay on the job long enough to make it worth the employer’s time hiring and training you. It will also speak to your motivation to work hard and be successful, since it is in your own best interest as well as benefiting the employer.
Why do you want this job?
Well, your last job sucked. You need the money. They’re hiring. There are perks, right? Those are likely among the top reasons that anyone wants any job. However, that’s not what the interviewers wants to hear.
Employers value candidates who are motivated to work for them. Explain what you know about the company, how you can contribute to their success, and how this is a great fit for where your career is going.
Even when employers are asking about you – don’t give an answer that is about you. Instead, focus your answers on what’s in it for them to hire you. The job interview is a business meeting, a sales pitch, and a negotiation all in one. Your best chance of closing the deal is to tailor your responses to the other person’s interests.