When you're trying to find a job, the questions asked during an interview can be confusing. Each question asked of you may have several different factors that are being considered, but with practice and critical thinking, it can be easier to come out ahead in the long-term.
According to US News and World Report, there are many reasons why employers may ask you any particular question. They're looking for behavioral traits and abilities that suit the position being applied for best, while also seeing if you're the professional they expected when they first saw your resume. There are simple questions that can be answered in this fashion, like those concerning your strengths and weaknesses, but more vague questions are often used to gauge more intangible factors.
Any questions about work ethic, as one example, may be poised to see how you react when under pressure. In situations like these, even if the question itself seems to be leading in one way or another, it's best to answer in a way that shows your abilities but also recognizes that you can handle adversity. Proclaiming that you're able to meet any and every challenge thrown at you may appear over confident, but having a measured approach that allows for the possibility of even-handedly managing setbacks would likely impress your prospective managers.
In the situation that your interviewer asks about past positions you've held, no matter how the relationship between you and past employers ended, it's important to be as positive as possible. The reason? Many employers want to know the type of personality you have. If you end up saying something negative about a past employer, they may consider you in a worse light, concerned that you may speak badly of them in the future.
If you're not sure about how to answer any specific question, the news source recommends taking a few seconds to consider your responses. Just those few seconds can mean the difference between remembering a relevant story about past successes and starting a sentence before you're sure how you plan to finish it. It'll help you avoid coming across as unprepared.
As important as answering questions can be during the job search, don't discount your own ability to ask them, Business Insider reported. In many points during the conversation, there should be natural points in which you can learn more about specific points of interest you might have, such as the office environment or the specifics of the job itself.
However, the best opportunity that you'll have to ask questions comes at the end. Almost every hiring manager will set aside a few minutes for you to ask any questions you didn't have answered during the interview itself, and posing the right ones will likely help you discover new details. Most managers expect you to have at least two questions ready, in fact, as otherwise they may consider you disinterested. Make sure you ask them correctly and pose them in the right way. Some examples can include asking about the typical day in the position, why the interviewer enjoys working for the company or what sets the business apart from the competition.
Another way you can ensure a positive reception from the interview itself is to show that you can make connections, which shows off your critical thinking abilities. Often, themes from some questions will bleed into others. Connecting the dots between questions about sales strategies and teamwork, where you combine strong traits from one question into another, will be a good way to show off your strengths.