by Virgil R. Carter
Want to know how your career can vanish before your eyes during an interview? The Wall Street Journal’s recent article “Seven Questions That Kill Careers” identifies these questions as ways to ensure you will have more free time (and less time at work):
1. So, tell me a little about yourself. This innocent-sounding question is a likely opening one. This is not where one describes one’s life history or most recent vacation frolic in Mexico. You may be best to simply make 1-2 brief comments about your most recent professional history.
2. Why do you want to leave your current job? Here’s one of those loaded questions. Best response is to indicate a logical career step “to” the new company. Avoid indicating any desire to get away “from” your current company. Stay positive.
3. What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses? Be prepared for this one. You’ve got to beat “hard-working” (strength) and ‘none” (weaknesses). When identifying a weakness, it’s important to include how you overcame it successfully.
4. How would your current or former colleagues describe you? Focus on what employees at different levels “look to you for”, i.e., a derivative of some of your strengths.
5. What is your goal for the short term? Before answering, clarify what “short term” means to the interviewer. Don’t get off on the wrong foot, since you have no way of knowing what the term means to the interviewer.
6. Are there certain tasks or types of people you don't like? Here’s a really loaded question, so be positive and honest. Keep in mind the tasks and folks who are likely to be involved with the job for which you are interviewing.
7. Do you have any questions? Not having any questions may suggest that you aren’t very bright or have much interest in the job. This is not the time to be asking about compensation, what the business is about, vacation or mandatory drug testing. Instead, ask a question or two showing your interest and knowledge about the company and job. The company’s web site is likely a good place to find information and for the basis for an intelligent question that shows you know something about the business.
Some prior thought to these, and other common-sense questions may be all that is needed to keep you from killing your interview chances.
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