Are you in the middle of a job hunt or gearing up for one? If so, then you’re likely aware that today’s job market has changed considerably in recent years—everything from volatile economic conditions, to increased globalization, to shifts in hiring needs and job parameters, to massive advances in technological innovation have effectively eradicated the old rules. In their wake are left a constantly shifting and evolving professional playing field.
That said, given the ultra-competitive nature of today’s job market, any sort of advantage that can be gained to help get a leg up on the competition is more than welcome. Knowing what hiring managers really want to know about you in order to help them make their hiring decisions—whether or not they explicitly ask you about these things or not—is just that sort of leg up.
Sure, on any given interview the questions that hiring managers ask can vary wildly, and it’s a challenge to know exactly what will be asked of you once you’re in the room, the door is shut, and the conversation begins. But with all of that said, many of the questions you’ll encounter in interviews along the job hunt trail are actually designed to gather some predictable information, and knowing this can help you prepare for future interviews more effectively.
1. Will you be pleasant to work with?
Sure, you’d be hard-pressed to find a hiring manager who’d actually ask you this question outright, but there’s a lot that’s going on in a typical interview that’s designed to get answers to this very question. Over the years, hiring managers have increasingly come to realize that fitting well into a company’s culture is one of the key predictive factors for a new hire’s success on the job. In addition to having the requisite experience and skill set for the position you’re being considered for, potential employers want to know if you’ll fit well into their teams and be able to operate within their established ways of doing business. Expect the conversation to gauge whether or not you’re nice, agreeable, flexible, a team player, and someone who’s generally pleasant to be around. So, when you’re preparing for your next interview, keep this in mind and work to convince them that you’d be a joy to work with if given the opportunity.
2. How do you handle pressure?
Potential employers want to know whether or not you can operate effectively when the heat is on and the stakes are high. Are you the sort of candidate who can handle stress without folding? It’s an important question and can go a long way to predicting how successful you’ll be if hired. Gauging whether or not you can handle pressure well can be determined by hiring managers in a number of ways—including asking about how you’ve handled difficult situations in your past positions, seeing how you’d handle various hypothetical stressful scenarios in the future, and even creating stressful conditions within the interview itself—all which can be used to figure out if you can keep ticking reliably under pressure.
3. Are you able to learn and grow?
Today’s successful companies are always looking to disrupt the status quo, embrace innovation, and become the leaders in their respective industries—which requires employees who have the same mindset. Sure, your resume and cover letters should reflect the fact that you’re willing and able to evolve, but you should also be prepared to show this in interviews. This includes everything from demonstrating that you’re on top of all the latest and greatest trends and tools in your field, to making it clear that you’re willing to innovate in order to succeed. On your next interview, don’t be a dinosaur—be the sort of hungry candidate who leaves dinosaurs in the dust.
4. Are you a leader or a follower?
Simply put, the work world is made up of leaders and followers. Although both types of workers are essential in order to get things done, some positions require one type over the other, and you can expect hiring managers to work hard to figure out which one you are when they’re interviewing you. So, the next time you’re going on a job interview, think about whether or not to highlight the fact that you’re a strong leader or are capable of following one, based on the nature of the position you’re going after—and make sure that your answers to the questions thrown at you support this.
In any job interview, regardless of position or industry, there are things you’ll be asked and things that hiring managers really want to know about to help them make sound hiring decisions. Use the information presented here to help you prepare effectively for your next interview, and to give hiring managers every reason to take you seriously as a candidate.