What those job interview questions really mean

question marksWhat’s the worst interview question ever? According to career consultant Sinead English it’s ‘Tell Me About Yourself’.
But, she explains on her blog, there is an easy way to approach this question – if you realise that ‘Tell Me About Yourself is Interviewer code for Why Should We Hire You?’. This means that the interviewers do not want to hear about your social life or hobbies: they want to hear why you feel you have what it takes to do the job well.
It’s good advice – and a good approach for any job interview. Because ultimately, every question you will be asked means the same: ‘Why should we hire you?’.
There may be variations on a theme – and interviewers will want different answers each time – but if you learn to decode recruiter speak you will know how to tackle any question. The trick is to work out the interviewers’ underlying motivation and ensure that you give them the information they need to make a decision.
Here are some examples of questions that are commonly asked at graduate-level job applications – and what the interviewers really mean.

They ask: What do you know about the company?
They mean: Have you done your research? What have you found out that’s not on the company website? Why you want to work there? Why do you think you would fit in?

They ask: Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
They mean: Are you committed to this employer? Have you thought about your career progression within the company?

They ask: Why have you chosen a career in this sector?
They mean: Are you really committed to this job? Do you know what it involves? Do you have the right skills?

They ask: What is your greatest achievement?
They mean: What is your greatest achievement relevant to the job you are applying for? What qualities can you demonstrate that match what they asked for in the job description?

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