Two Deceptively Easy Interview Questions

When I interviewed for previous positions in my career, I always seemed to find myself confronted by two questions that, at face value, are deceptively easy.

The first is the most common introductory question, in which the interviewer simply says, “Tell me about yourself.” The trouble here for the candidate is their own internal question of what to discuss. Should you speak about how much you love rock climbing, wine (specifically Malbec, as an example), and beach days? Or should you go into minute details of your most recent programming project?
As an interviewer of many applicants, we look for the most qualified candidate to take on our role. This means we want someone who can comfortably speak about their accomplishments that relate to the role they’re applying for. What experience do you have that’s relevant to the role? What is your educational background? What do you see yourself contributing to the company, based upon what you know, and also what you hope to learn once hired?
The second question that is deceptively easy? Try answering this one on the spot: “Why do you want to work for our company?”
The most convenient answer to this question for a non-career oriented applicant is simply, “Because I need a job, and you’re hiring.” Unfortunately, that would likely make you an unattractive candidate for us in many cases. Most employers would agree with this position.
The prepared, career-oriented applicant will do a few things before an interview in order to answer this question properly:
1. Take stock of their career to date. This is relatively easy if you’ve invested the time to write a well-crafted resume that describes the value you have added to your previous employers and/or projects in school.
2. Research the company. Make sure that you look over every possible link on the company’s webpage, instead of only checking the front page of their website. Find things that pique your interest, or raise additional questions for you about the company.
3. Be prepared to combine the two in your answer. You should discuss the items that interest you about our company, and how you can add value in those areas. You might also discuss areas that the company specializes in that you would like to leverage toward adding to your professional repertoire.
4. It’s never a bad thing to ask questions! This shows that you’re thinking critically about what our company does, and how you might provide even further benefit to us as our employee!
As always, good luck with your career!