It turns out that my book Interview Like Yourself…No, Really! Follow Your Strengths and Skills to GET THE JOB is in good company.
Fast Company, to be more precise.
In their new book, Heads: Business Lessons from an Executive Search Pioneer, Russell S. Reynolds, Jr. and Carol E. Curtis include tips for answering some tough interview questions — and Fast Company excerpted them in a great post called “10 Job Interview Tips from a CEO Headhunter.”
Here are three of my favorites, because they deal gracefully with the potentially awkward topic of bad experiences:
Tell me about a situation where you did not get along with a superior.
The wrong answer to this hot-button question is, “I’ve been very fortunate and have never worked for someone I didn’t get along with.”
Everyone has had situations where he or she disagreed with a boss, and saying that you haven’t forces the recruiter to question your integrity. Also, it can send out a signal that the candidate is not seasoned enough or hasn’t been in situations that require him or her to develop a tough skin or deal with confrontation.
It’s natural for people to have differing opinions. When this has occurred in the past, you could explain that you presented your reasons and openly listened to other opinions as well.
Describe a situation where you were part of a failed project.
If you can’t discuss a failure or mistake, the recruiter might conclude that you don’t possess the depth of experience necessary to do the job. The recruiter is not looking for perfection. He or she is trying better to understand your level of responsibility, your decision-making process, and your ability to recover from a mistake, as well as what you learned from the experience and if you can take responsibility for your mistakes.
Respond that you’d like to think that you have learned something valuable from every mistake you have made. Then have a brief story ready with a speciﬁc illustration.
It should conclude on a positive note, with a concrete statement about what you learned and how it beneﬁted the company.
Why did you leave your last position?
At high levels, issues that relate to personality and temperament become more important than they might otherwise. The recruiter wants to know if you will ﬁt in with the client company. The recruiter may also be ﬁshing for signs of conﬂict that indicate a potential personality problem.
Be honest and straightforward, but do not dwell on any conﬂict that may have occurred. Highlight positive developments that resulted from your departure, whether it was that you accepted a more challenging position or learned an important lesson that helped you to be happier in your next job.
Want More Help?
As you can see, there’s lots to think about when you’re preparing for a job interview, whether you’re fresh out of school or going for a top position.
These resources can help:
- Check out my book Interview Like Yourself… No, Really! Follow Your Strengths and Skills to Get the Job. It has detailed advice, concrete steps to take, and insights from 64 HR professionals.
- This job interview checklist will help you prepare and practice efficiently and manage your energy throughout the process.
- And if you’d like my help with interview prep, just contact me for more information.
Fast Company’s post was adapted from Heads: Business Lessons from an Executive Search Pioneer by Russell S. Reynolds, Jr., with Carol E. Curtis, ©2012, McGraw-Hill Professional; reprinted with permission of the publisher.
Featured image by: Steven Meyer-Rassow