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Ask Aerotek: Job Interview “Gotcha” Questions

You’re sitting in an unfamiliar room, on the other side of a hiring manager’s desk. You’re a little nervous, but who isn’t at an interview? Buy you’re not worried. You’re prepared. You’ve got this.
And that’s when it happens — the “gotcha” question. How you handle the next two minutes of the conversation could have a huge impact on your future.

It’s an intimidating scenario that most people face at some point in their lives, and preparation makes all the difference. Luckily, there are people who’ve built a career around getting you ready for that “gotcha” moment. We asked Aerotek recruitment consultants for their top tips on how to handle “gotcha” questions, here is their advice.

In general, what should people keep in mind about the “gotcha” question?
A large portion of your preparation should include studying your own resume. Think about very specific details around certain times and experiences in past roles. For example, think about when you may have had to motivate yourself or other to make a difficult decision.

If you’re prepared, you’ll have clear examples ready in your mind for any question that might be thrown your way, and you won’t be a deer in the headlights, or too vague with an answer.
What’s your greatest weakness?

The kneejerk answer is to lead with something that’s actually a strength, “I work too hard, I’m a perfectionist.” That’s not what the employer is looking. The best way to show what you can do is to be vulnerable, and say what that weakness is, but at the same time have a response for how you’re dealing with that weakness. “I’m reading self-help books, I’m asking my coworkers to challenge me on it and I’m really reflecting to make sure that I’m improving.” That way they see that you’re self-aware but also proactive.

Have you ever been fired?
You have to be honest, because in today’s world, if you lie it’s going to come back to get you. It’s better to be honest and get into it than to try to sneak one past them. In an interview situation, if there’s a red flag, lead with that and be open and honest, because a lot of the time they might know already. You never want to be negative about a previous position or work relationship. Just state the facts. “My attendance was poor and I was let go.” If there’s any way to then spin it positively, to talk about lessons learned, that’s going to be the lasting impression.

Why do you want to leave your current company?
Just state your point of preference. If you’re looking for a better career opportunity, if your position doesn’t offer a lot of growth opportunity, if you need to stretch your wings.
Of course, nine out of ten times, the reason is money, and along with that a feeling of being undervalued. But never want bad-mouth an employer, spin it to a positive way if possible. “I’m looking for growth and opportunity and that’s why I’m here.”

Where do you see yourself in 5/10/20 years?
Back to being vulnerable. Share your goals, not only professionally but also personally. If you want a certain position or a certain specialty, talk about it, and if you want to have a family or travel to Europe someday be sure to share your personal goals as well.

The reason for the interview is more about the culture fit than the X’s and O’s. If everybody at the company wants to grow, and you don’t, that might not be the right fit. You need to be honest.
If you need some advice on job interview tactics, Aerotek experts can work with you to prepare responses based on your specific job history. All you have to do is reach out.