As hiring for hotels heats up, we deep dive into frustrating interview questions. When Career and Development Coach, Kathy Hubler from Ladies Against the Grain, recently asked “What is your least favorite interview question?” on the Women In Hospitality Facebook group, it quickly became a HOT topic, with lots of feedback from both job hunters and recruiters. Kathy says, she asked this question because what she really wanted to know is: what questions women struggle with most during an interview.
The top mistake candidates make during interviews, according to Kathy, is answering what they think the interviewer is asking instead of what the interviewer is looking for in the answer. “If how the question is interpreted is totally off point, or the candidate has biases towards answering certain questions, it can hurt their chances of getting the job,” she says.
When Kathy works with clients on interview prep, she reminds them “behind every question you are being asked is: Why should I hire you? What value do you bring to the table? This is why it’s so important to answer questions with those thoughts in mind, so the interviewer gets a sense of who you are and what you can accomplish for their team and as a part of their organization.”
As competition is especially fierce right now, Kathy navigates us through the top five dreaded questions, how to answer each one well, and stand out during your interview.
1. Tell me about yourself?
Firstly, this is not a question about you personally. It is a question about your career history and how you got to where you are now. A recruiter’s response on Facebook was: Anything personal should just be a no-go.
This is usually the first question interviewers ask because they want to get to know you professionally. At the same time, you get to settle into the interview with a rather easy question because you are the expert on yourself! Stick to a brief outline about your career. You don’t need to go over every position you’ve held. To take it one step further you should add why you are applying.
Biggest mistake: when candidates forget to mention important details. While the answer is an overview of your career, you still need to mention specific things the hiring manager/recruiter is looking for: strengths, skills, or qualities to do the job well, and how you’ve made an impact in previous roles. Ending this answer with either how you can make an impact for the new company, how the new opportunity will help you grow your talents, or both, will strengthen your case for getting the job.
Tip: Review the job description carefully so you can tie one or two of the needs of the company/position into your answer to stand out from the crowd.
2. What do you consider your greatest weakness?
This is not a question that’s meant to torture you, or for you to talk about what you are not good at, rather what the employer is looking for is that the candidate has self-awareness. In other words: you know what you need to improve on to be the best version of yourself.
The key to this answer: be honest and show how you’ve developed a plan to improve on this weakness. Even better, talk about a weakness you’ve already started addressing and how you’ve made a change.
Tip: Whatever weakness you choose, it should not be something that will interfere with the job.
3. Why do you want to work here?
One of the responses I received about this question was: This just seems self-centered. I want a paycheck, the same as everyone else. This is a perfect example of not understanding what the questions is *really* about. This is why it’s important to answer questions not the way you think they should be answered, but the way the hiring manager thinks they should be answered. How you answer this question tells the interviewer your motives behind wanting the job and if you are really interested in the job (or is this just another interview).
The key to answering this question is showing the interviewer why you are hoping to join their organization. What is it about them specifically? Where do you feel like you can contribute? Also, how can the organization/position help you in your career goals?
Tip: Research the employer and get to know their values, mission, goals, and where they make a difference, find a way to weave those themes throughout your answer.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5/10/15 years?
Another tough question that I repeatedly hear is hard to answer. One person responded: Hell, I have no idea what I'm eating for dinner. How should I know where I want to be in 5 years?!
Like most questions, this is a strategic question. The interviewer wants to know your motives behind getting the job. They also want to know your career goals and how ambitious you are. They are considering: does this position align with the candidate’s career goals
Tip: Think about the job you are interviewing for and where it could take you. How will the job you are interviewing for help you meet your goals? Include this in your answers so the hiring manager knows this position will help you along the way.
5. Why should I hire you?
This is usually one of the last questions asked. It’s your last chance to make a final impression on the hiring manager. Match your qualifications to the job and give it one last attempt to win the hiring manager over. Think about your skills, competencies, and achievements--all the things that make you competitive. And sell the heck out of yourself!
Many candidates I speak with are uncomfortable with this question because they feel like they are bragging too much about themselves. I say, if there is ever a place to brag, it’s in a job interview! Tell the interviewer what you bring to the table, what makes you unique, and what sets you apart from the competition. Tell them what you would like to achieve in the role that benefits the company.
Tip: Practice this question a few times and keep your answer short and sweet (under 2 minutes) so it remains strong and memorable.
Bottom line: By thinking through and practicing answers to these five common questions, you will bring your best prepared and most confident self to interviews.
Kathy Hubler is a Career and Development Coach at Ladies Against the Grain, where she specializes in helping women in the food, service, and hospitality industries to find freedom, energy, and a zest for life through a career they love! Kathy is a Certified Life Coach (CLC), prior to that she worked in some of the world’s best restaurants in New York City after getting her associate’s degree from The Culinary Institute of America and a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, specializing in the yummiest scholarly topic ever, “The Science and Culture of Foods of Italy.”