Super! You heard about a great new job, sent in your resume, and now you have landed an interview. Way-to-go you! After a few well-earned celebratory minutes inside your head, the smile quickly disappears from your face, your heart drops into your shoes, and your palms start to sweat as you realize what is ahead of you.

OH No! What you are going to say? What are they expecting of you? How will you face this new daunting challenge…the interview? (Queue the good ol’ “Don Don Don” sound effect)

Don’t panic, deep breaths, lets break it down.

You never want to just wing-it in an interview, that is a recipe for failure. Hiring Managers are looking for someone with a clear head, well thought out answers, and someone who cared enough about the job to do their homework before the interview. You will also feel more confident when armed with information. After all, preparation is the best stress-buster.

So what do employers look for, what do they often ask in order to separate the cream of the crop?

To uncover areas that may reflect inconsistencies, hiring managers sometimes ask some artfully tricky questions, such as:

“How would you describe yourself in one word?”

“Can you name three of your strengths and weaknesses?

“Why do you want to work here?”

“Why do you want to leave your current job?”

“Why have you been out of work for so long?”
And upon any one of these zingers, the unprepared person is likely to freeze…not good.

Let’s take a closer look at these questions:


“How would you describe yourself in one word?” (…..uh, “Awesome”, right?)

Think about the job role here. What you are expected to do, will correlate 100% with who you are. Personality goes a long way with employers, as they need to make sure you are the right person to function and thrive in the available role.

If a role requires wearing many hats, you could say “flexible”, “adaptable”, “energetic”, “multi-tasker”…

If the job requires strict punctuality, responsibilities for someone else’s well-being, or handling sensitive information, you could say: “responsible”, “reliable”, “trustworthy”….

And if the job is people-orientated, like sales, recruiting, or customer service, you could use “personable”, “go-getter”, “Driven”, “friendly”….

Once you think about it, the answer is easy!


One of the harder questions to answer however, is “Can you name three of your strengths and weaknesses?

To answer this question, First of all, never lead with a negative. Start with your strengths.

Most people will say “I’m a hard worker”…now if the hiring manager has interviewed 5 people before you on the same day, this will be like listening to a broken record, so in order to stand out you must be more imaginative.

Think about your skills, what did you learn in school, or at a previous job that will aid you here?

Also consider your personal traits, loyalty, reliability, etc. those are strengths too!

Word this in a way that is informative and attention grabbing, showing that you think differently from other applicants.

Now, the dreaded part of the question, your weaknesses. This doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Try to put a positive spin on this wherever you can. Maybe a few of your skills need improvement, but note in your answer how you are willing to learn on the job and are working toward improving them.


Next on our frightening list is “why do you want to work here?”

Ok, let’s get real here, we all know it’s probably the money…but shhh, don’t say it’s about the money! You want your employer to hire you because you are motivated, looking for great opportunities, admire their company, and believe that it is a great place to work.

Flatter the company, the work it has done in the past, what accomplishments have they made that you admire? (this is where your pre-interview homework comes in handy).

Also discuss how you see yourself fitting in, and what you can bring to the company.


“Why do you want to leave your current job?”

Ok folks, obviously there is a reason you want to leave your current job. For some it is simply for better opportunities, and for others (yeah, you know who you are) there is something negative driving you away. Hey, maybe you got fired, it happens sometimes, I don’t judge!

Anyway, your potential new employer does not want to hear you gripe about your current or last job. Complaining about a job is a red flag to a hiring manager, it lets them know that in the past, or present, you are having issues working with others, or in a certain industry. Whatever the reason, negativity doesn’t look good on you. They do not want that negativity coming into their company.

The hiring manager also used this question as a tool to sniff out any dirt. They want to make sure the person they hire is honest.

Phrase your answer carefully.

You can say that you are seeking more challenge, or new growth opportunities…and hopefully that’s a truthful answer!


“Why have you been out of work for so long?”

To those of you who have been laid off, I am sorry. Keep your head up, after all, you just scored this awesome interview! Don’t allow this to become a panic-inducing question. The hiring manager will ask this question because they are curious, and need to know your history. They also need to rule out anything that makes you un-hirable”.

Really, Honesty is the best policy, and there is no shame in being effected by a former employer’s financial situation and hard decision.

Sometimes a gap in work could be because you took a break, had children, or went to a foreign country for a while. That’s ok too.

Emphasize your desire to rejoin the work force, and your excitement to possibly start again with the role you are applying for. Also ensure the hiring manager that although you have been out of the race for a while, you have worked hard to keep your qualifications up to date.

So there you have it, interview accomplished! Either another one under your belt and great practice, or congrats’ you got the job! Either way, with simple thought and preparation, the fear of the unknown goes away. Rather than it being an interrogation, you simply had a pleasant conversation.

If you would like more help regarding how to interview, please consider the TrainUP courses below! I hope this article has helped you, and best of luck out there in your new job!


Interview Skills Online course

Course ID: 194305


Preparing for the Behavioral Interview Online course

Course ID: 203566