Updated: Sep 13
Interviewing can be hard, especially when a question arises that you don't know how to answer.
There are a few particularly nerve-wracking questions that stump even the most experienced interviewees due to their generality and tricky nature.
Nevertheless, even the hardest questions can be conquered if you know the right formula.
1. Tell me a bit about yourself.
This question, though seemingly easy, can leave interviewees drawing a blank, usually because they don’t know where to start. Most, if not all of us find it extremely difficult to describe ourselves, particularly when put on the spot. That being said, I find the best way to answer this question is to follow the below roadmap:
The key here is to tailor each roadmap section to the position. While remaining honest, pick and choose which experiences, interests/hobbies, and future aspirations you want to reveal for this particular position. Always keep your answer short and sweet. This might seem impossible given how much information you could reveal given the roadmap above. However, if you are keeping your answers position-oriented and simple, each step in the roadmap should only entail 1-2 sentences each. A good strategy for keeping your answer short is to practice it before the interview. The more you hear it, the easier it will become to pick out and cut any unnecessary information.
2. What is your greatest weakness?
While this is probably the most classic interview question, it can be a tricky one. On one hand, you want to be honest and authentic. On the other, you don’t want to sabotage yourself. Historically, the common strategy for tackling this question would be to provide a weakness that could also be viewed as a strength. Nowadays, employers want to hear something more authentic and unique from their interviewees. To accomplish this, I recommend a two-step process. First, carefully choose which weakness you would like to reveal based on the position requirements. It’s important to choose a weakness that won’t impede your ability to complete the core functions of the role. The second step is to describe the steps you are taking to improve this weakness. Employers often favor potential candidates that are self-aware and actively trying to better themselves.
3. What is your wage expectation?
Of all interview questions, this one can be the most daunting, and for good reason. If your answer is way too low, there is a chance that you might receive a lower wage than you deserve or leave the employer thinking you undervalue your worth. If your answer is way too high, you risk the employer thinking you didn’t do your research on the position and that you won't accept the job if they offer it to you at a much lower wage. The top tips for successfully answering this question are to do your research, give a range, and aim slightly high. Start by researching the average wage is for the position online. If given multiple different wages or ranges, calculate the average. When asked the question in the interview, give your average wage in a range format. For example, if you found that the average wage for the position was $18/hour, give a range of $17-$22/hour. Be prepared to give your range in per hour and year representations. Finally, always aim slightly higher than the average wage you found. Have your range start at the researched average and move up from there. Remember, it is always better to oversell yourself than to undersell.
Written by: MacKenzie Verhelst, BAPsych, CVRP-TSA
MacKenzie Verhelst is a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant for Creative Therapy Consultants. MacKenzie is a Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Professional (CVRP) with Transferrable Skill Analysis (TSA) certification and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from McGill University. She demonstrates expertise in vocational assessment, resume/cover letter development, interview preparation, active job search support, and job sustainment services. MacKenzie is passionate about helping others reach their utmost potential and advocates for finding joy in work. To learn more about Vocational Rehabilitation services, please visit click here.