A great deal of job search advice available online, in books, and from coaches involves how to best answer various questions that come up in interviews.
Job seekers look for the best canned answers to help them ensure a positive outcome. They want to know the best spin or the “correct” response to get to the next stage of the hiring process or an offer.
While it is important to present yourself in the best way possible… it’s a bad idea to give an answer that’s not true for you!
It’s not uncommon for someone to get the offer, and then find that the job is a disaster once they get to work. They often assume that the company wasn’t forthcoming with them about the job or the culture. However, they don’t think about how they may have portrayed themselves to the employer.
Someone pursuing a sales position may be asked about how they deal with cold-calling new prospects. Knowing that’s an important point in the selection process for a new hire, they may paint a picture of enjoying it and aggressively going after it, while knowing that it’s one of the least attractive aspects of a sales role for them.
They may get the position, but end up failing because they were in the habit of procrastinating when it came to cold-calls. They are frustrated with the company, yet the employer is frustrated as well since they were led to believe cold-calling was one of the candidates’ strengths.
Someone may give the “correct” answer about preferring to work with a team as opposed to working individually, yet know that constant teamwork has generally led to dissatisfaction in their work life. They may convey that they appreciate accountability and feedback from their supervisor, but then be resentful because they feel micro-managed. They may “spin” a question on their weakness by implying they “work too hard”, and then become irritated when they are consistently given projects that require extra hours and effort.
While always giving answers that they think the employer wants to hear, they often don’t think about the picture they are painting of themselves and the expectations they are setting. They get the job, but everyone is disappointed when things don’t turn out as hoped for.
Presenting your actual strengths, weaknesses, interests, abilities, and skills as positively as possible is critically important in the interview process. However, it’s vital to be honest about yourself in those areas as well. Being honest may, at times, mean you don’t get an offer. However, it would likely be a job that would be a poor fit for you anyway. Often, an employer is likely to find honesty refreshing, and they realize a candidate is not likely to fit every aspect of a job at any rate. Getting someone that will tell them things as they are is often more attractive than someone that tries to always deduce the “desired” answer.