Best Answers for Those Tired Interview Questions

July 16th, 2013

Your résumé got you the interview. So how do you turn those clichéd interview questions into an opportunity for you to shine?

The key to answering these questions is to take ‘you’ out of the equation. It’s all about the potential employer. So, focus your answers on what the employer needs.

Why do you want the job?

Of course you’ve already done your due diligence on the company. You are connected through social media and have been observing discussions, tweets and even hiring notices. You’ve also researched the company culture and the key players. Now it’s time to let that savvy show.

Share what excites you about the company and why you would want to be part of the organization. Weave tidbits of what you’ve learned about the company into the conversation to show you have done your homework, and use quantitative information whenever possible.

Then, step out of your comfort zone to share what you think you can contribute to the company. Sure you’re pitching, but if you are enthusiastic and real, you can be sure your genuine responses will be remembered.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Start with your weakness so you end on your strengths.

First, forget the old ploy of spinning your weakness into strengths. Instead share a little about yourself. Be forthright. Share a genuine weakness and how you’ve taught yourself to overcompensate for it with examples.

Asking your strengths seems like a benign question, but consider turning it around with a positive and memorable answer. List your strengths as related to the potential employer and the position for which you are applying.

Smile, engage with the interviewer and be yourself.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Alison Green in USA Today News & World Report/Money translates that question to “How does this job fit in with where you see your career going?” The answer an interviewer wants to hear is that the position means a career to you, not just a paycheck or a place holder until something better comes along.

Answer thoughtfully, honestly and with enthusiasm. Your answer must demonstrate that:

  • You have vision and it involves the potential employer
  • Your goal is to invest yourself in a career with the company.

Once again, it’s all about making that interview all about what you have to offer a potential employer.

Let Olympic Staffing Services help with your job search.  We don’t simply fill positions—we build relationships, taking the time to understand your unique talents and qualifications. Contact one of our seasoned team of staffing professionals to learn more about what Olympic Staffing can offer you.


“Tell Me About Yourself:” What An Employer REALLY Wants To Know

April 13th, 2012

In nearly any setting, the question, “tell me about yourself,” is the perfect icebreaker. But when you’re in a situation that can make or break your career, it becomes much more significant.

For the person on the hiring end of a job interview, this question serves to open a conversation about the central topic under consideration: what you, an unknown entity, have to offer the employer. For the job seeker in the hot seat, a powerful, fact-filled summary sets the tone for the entire interview, and makes an impression that will last throughout the hiring process.

As a job seeker, you should anticipate that you will hear this question. It appears frequently on “top ten” interview questions lists from web sites like and Hiring managers use it to gauge your comfort with a topic that should be the easiest thing in the world upon which to wax poetic: you. And that means that as a potential new hire, you need to have an answer that goes beyond the traditional 30-second elevator speech and into a detailed, concise and meaningful sketch of your experience and notable achievements. Do not walk into an interview situation unless you have rehearsed and practiced your answer.

Craft each element of your answer to describe your skills and knowledge in a way that gives a complete, but not exhaustive, outline of your professional history as it relates to the job opening. Throw in a brief anecdote or two that relate to your most significant achievements—be boastful, but don’t be vain. This is your chance to shine in front of people who could be your future co-workers, and it’s also your chance to be specific. “I like to work with people” is much less interesting than, “Throughout my career, I’ve sought out opportunities, such as three years ago at XYZ Company, where my ability to relate to people of all ages was an asset, especially in developing our business among elderly clients.”

You have the entire remainder of the interview to persuade, cajole and otherwise convince this cast of interviewers that you are the best man or woman for the job. Ultimately, an employer wants to learn what you have to offer their company, but with this question, do your best to limit yourself to a descriptive summary. Take the rest of the interview to go into more depth about yourself in ways that tie back to how your experience fits with this position.

Don’t fear the “tell me about yourself” question – embrace it. Telling a potential employer what you think they want to hear won’t do anyone any favors. You were selected for an interview for a reason. This is your chance to shine.

As you search for your next position, keep in mind that Olympic Staffing has connected job seekers with Southern California’s top employers for over 30 years. Contact us today.