Dreading a job interview? Nothing helps 'more than preparation': How to answer 3 hard questions

"They're looking for self awareness, not perfection."


When it comes to which job interview questions make job seekers most nervous, a few stand out. LinkedIn News recently took a poll to see which of the following three common questions people dread the most:

Turns out all three are fairly unpopular. Forty-three percent of respondents said "weakness" was their most dreaded question, while 31% said "Why should we hire you?" and 22% said, "So, tell me about yourself."

When it comes to tackling these and other interview questions, experts have one word of advice: Prepare.

"Nothing gets us out of dread more than preparation," says Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, entrepreneur and author of "Choose Possibility." "These three are some of the most common questions you get asked," she says, so you can think ahead and come up with your answers in advance. Here's how to get ready.

'What's your greatest weakness?': Interviewers want to see 'self-awareness'

Your interviewers know you're human. They're "not expecting you to have no weaknesses," says Singh Cassidy. They want to see that you know you have areas of opportunity and that you're working to improve.

Say, for example, you're naturally inclined to take on all of the work on a project and you struggle with collaborating. Give examples of how before each new project, you schedule meetings with the rest of the team to map out the project needs and ensure you're sharing tasks and delegating when necessary.

Or say you can get caught up in whatever task you're doing at the moment and you sometimes miss or are late for meetings as a result. Give an example of how you keep yourself on track by setting multiple alarms or reminders.

With this question, they're looking for "self-awareness, not perfection," says Singh Cassidy.

'Why should we hire you?': List 'your superpowers and strengths'

When an interviewer asks, "Why should we hire you?," answer by being "very specific about the qualities and skills you bring to the table as it relates to the role," says Andrew McCaskill, career expert at LinkedIn.

Start by making a "list of your superpowers and strengths," says Singh Cassidy, then read the job description and a bit about the company's mission and "attempt to guess what they need."

Say the role calls for an expert in social media and you ran the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts of your last two employers. You could mention that you know the role calls for that kind of marketing strategy and that you have years of experience.

Or say you're applying for a management role that requires a lot of high-level organization. Give examples of how you led large-scale projects in your previous jobs, helped everyone stay on task, and met your team's timeline to further the company's goals.  

'Tell me about yourself': Come up with '3 or 4 points about what people would say' about you

Interviewers who prompt you to tell them about yourself might be trying to get a sense of who you are as a person or trying to see if you have the experience for the role.

Before attempting to answer, try to ask "a clarifying question," says Singh Cassidy, such as, "Would you like to understand more about my career history, or would you like to understand more about what I get excited about?"

Have a few ideas in mind that could work depending on which answer you get. "I might go three or four points about what people would say about me inside work, and then three or four points about what people would say about me outside of work," she says.

Hack your next job interview to improve your odds of being hired

Video by Courtney Stith

Would people say you love to come up with creative solutions on the job? Would they say you like to come up with team building activities? Would they say you're passionate about the Marvel films because you love an epic story? Think ahead about how people would describe you to give a sense of who you are in and outside of the job.

The key thing with these and any interview questions is to anticipate them and practice your answers ahead of time. That way "you won't be scared by the time [any question] comes up, because you're prepared," says Georgene Huang, co-founder and CEO of Fairygodboss.

More from Grow: