#7: How to answer the most common interview questions (II)

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In this week’s post we give you tips on answers for job interview questions that focus on your specific motivation – an introduction to next week’s post on (the dreaded) strengths and weaknesses questions. Without further ado:

1.) Where do you see yourself in five years?
Seems pretty straight forward – main goal here is to keep it short and precise – be honest and tell a story that connects the current job offer, (and ideally that company) with your past “experience”, for example, the jobs you took during university time and even university engagements or hobbies. At the end of the day recruiters ask this question to know a.) if you’ve set realistic expectations for your career, b) if you have (and what exactly is your) ambition (just fyi – this shouldn’t be the moment you think out this in detail) and c.) if the position aligns with your goals and growth. Your best bet is to think realistically about where this position could take you and answer along those lines. And if the position isn’t necessarily a one-way ticket to your dream career? It’s OK to say that you’re not quite sure what the future brings, but that you see this job playing an important aspect in helping you make that decision.

2.) What Are You Looking for in a New Position?
Feel like this is a trap question? Well, yes and no. As with all questions, as specifically with this one, think about the recruiter’s perspective before you answer. Why do they ask? MANY reasons, but whichever it is, use proof of your skills and motivation to answer them (and don’t tell them the commute is short and you love the fact they have a canteen).
Skills: an area the recruiter is sure to care about—talk about how you’re looking for a job and an environment where you can use them. For example, “I’ve been developing my data analysis skills for a few years now and, first and foremost, I’m looking for a position where I can continue to exercise those skills.”
Motivation: simple – basically more than the paycheck. Describe in details one or two aspects you read in the job description and how this relates to what motivates you and how you can see that playing out in this position or company. For example, “Another thing that’s important to me is that the position allows me to not only play with data, but also present my findings and suggestions directly to the team and to clients. I’m always very motivated by being able to see the direct impact of my work on other people.

3.) How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?
Not a trap question – just an honest and direct way of checking out whether you will scream at your colleagues, call in sick for a few days or actually face the challenge head on. For this, choose an answer that shows that you can meet a stressful situation in a productive, positive way and let nothing stop you from accomplishing your goals. One way to answer this is to talk through your stress-reduction tactics (making the world’s greatest to-do list or stopping to take 5 deep breaths, grabbing your running), and then share an example of a stressful situation you dealt with in your previous internships, at university or even in your extracurricular activities.

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