How To Bomb An Interview

We have all been there; the dreaded job search that never ends. Perhaps you just moved to a new city or you have parted ways with your last position. No matter the path, you have now embarked on the turbulent ride of unemployment. Ugh … it really is the worst. There is no getting around that.

Upon moving to D.C., I found myself in this very position. I spent countless hours fine tuning my resume. (Well… to be honest, I maybe spent an hour tops working on my resume because 1) I’m 25, I haven’t done much and 2) I am lazy) I did however spend days searching for open positions on the “web.” Do you even realize how many search engines there are for that? Monster, Indeed, Idealist, the list goes on and on. And, amazingly enough, there is not one job posting that is your dream job.

Once you locate anything even remotely interesting, you start to apply. And then … silence. It is dead air out there. Have all the cellular towers collapsed? Has the internet ceased to exist? Nope. Your resume has just been stacked on top of another pile, the height of which rivals the Tower of Babel. (Hey look … my college education hard at work; an obscure reference for everyone to enjoy) Nothing makes you question your self-worth like those automatic responses. “Thank you for applying. We have chosen a select few for interviews. Best of luck with your job search.” Hey thanks, computer, for your well wishes!

But look, far off in the distance, ever so deem, a light at the end of the tunnel. You have been contacted for an interview. (Insert angelic song and clouds parting)

Truth be told, this in when it really starts to get tricky. I am not sure who thinks of these interview questions but color me impressed. There must be some sort of conspiratorial “think tank” working on these. Perhaps they work with the people who draft leases … but I digress. I swear each question is a little word jumble.

Below are 5 of these questions I have encountered in the past. Here is how NOT to answer them.

1.       What motivates you?

Bad Answer: Money, lots of money.

Well, no sh*t. Unless you have applied to work at a) a used car dealership or b) cold call sales, do not say that!

Yes, a paycheck is important. We all enjoy getting one! More often than not, they will ask you about your salary requirements during the interview or prior to hiring. Really think about this question. The interviewer is interested in what keeps you going during a long day or week at work; what gets you through a rough patch. Think of answers like “reaching a sales goal,” “succeeding at the goals I’ve set for myself,” and “knowing that I am doing my job efficiently and to the best of my abilities.”

2.       What office setting do you work best in?

Bad Answer: Well I am really social so a large setting. (Insert long pause) Well a small setting can be great too. (long pause) But, larger is good.

Wow, wishy washy much! Be honest. Giving a “non-answer” is the worst. If you prefer a large office with 50+ coworkers on your floor, say it.  If you work better in a small group, say that. If you have experience with both and worked well in either, say that. Honesty is the best route. Think about it. If you don’t like large offices and are stuck in a cubicle amongst 100 other people, are you going to enjoy your job?

3.       What management style do you prefer?

Bad Answer: I am fine with any style.

Oh really, any style works for you? I am going to call your bluff. Do you love when you have a manager who micro-manages everything you do? This is another example of a question which you need to answer truthfully rather than fishing for the right answer. If you don’t know, think back to a job where you where the happiest. What did your manager/boss do in the situation? In the job you hated the most, what was your manager like?

4.       What did you like dislike most about your last job?

Bad Answer: Everything, hell on earth.

Kay, impetuous much? Please do not bad mouth your previous employer. They are asking to see what stuck out in your last position. It looks bad to speak negatively about a past employer. Think of things relating to their management style or client services. A good example would be a want for more contact between management and staff or maybe more in-depth training.

5.       Do you have any questions?

Bad Answer: Nope, I am all set.

DO NOT SAY THAT! Do you really not have any questions? As much as it seems like you are on the receiving end of a verbal barrage of questions, you are interviewing the company as well. Even if by the end you are confident you want the job, ask some questions. Especially ask questions if you have written the company off. Ask about the things that are making you hesitate. Good questions include:

1.       Why is this position open?
2.       Is there room for growth from this position?
3.       What was your path with the company?

Now, I am no expert. Feel free to ignore my advice. I find I ignore myself quite often. Just remember, you are awesome. You would not have been asked to interview if they didn’t like your resume. Grab your favorite Starbucks drink before, jam out to your favorite music on the way there, and walk in there confident.

Best of luck everyone!

You can read more from Danielle Lander on her blog.

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