By Shea Ki
Have you ever been asked an interview question that you knew was coming but it still felt tricky to answer? In this third part of my #WhatToSay blog series, I'll help you navigate through four interview questions that often challenge even my most high achieving clients.
Some of them may sound like common interview questions. As a former hiring manager, I can tell you that the last response any employer wants to hear is a common answer.
If you look up any of these questions on other career websites and youtube channels, you might be overwhelmed at all the answers you find. It's a lot to take in and not the best way to proceed to upgrade your interview.
While most of the advice on other career websites are well intentioned and based on experience, NONE of those answers you find should be YOUR response.
As I tell my clients, instead it is key to do the inner work and reflection that helps you understand your career journey so far and where it is going. Only then will your answers in the hot seat start bringing you the results you want.
You will notice the guidance I provide on my blog to answer interview questions will not be one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter advice or in a template format.
I don't want you sounding like anyone else but the real, amazing YOU.
I will instead offer you ways to approach the question that tap into your authenticity. I will leave it to you to choose which option feels best and give yourself time to reflect on it so you can shine in the hot seat.
If you want to practice or explore any of these questions further so your response sparkles beyond a doubt, I invite you to set up a 30 minute sample Upgrade My Interview coaching session with me.
Who me? Disagree with someone? (gulp!)
This one sounds like a minefield, doesn’t it? We often feel the pressure to be on our best behavior at the interview and that we aren't suppose to say anything negative in the hot seat.
Of course you have disagreed with your boss or supervisor/manager--- if not out loud then at least in your head. 😉Maybe it was during a re-org as those are uncomfortable for most. Perhaps it was about what next step to take with a client, days you wanted off, or your workload accumulating.
Recruiters and hiring managers want a more engaging answer than you disagreed about what’s for lunch and they certainly don’t want to hear you vent about a boss you disliked. Think of an example where you expressed your opinion or idea and you took the initiative and problem solved instead of letting it get worse. Keep away from focusing your story on the other person involved. Instead, wrap up your answer by highlighting the actions you took to resolve the situation or a lesson learned.
Find the opportunity in your answer to demonstrate your strength in relationship building and you will more easily glide through your response.
Oh YIKES. But this was going so well....
All of a sudden the momentum of your interview can come to a disappointing halt with one question, especially if you are not comfortable with your employment history.
Whether the employment gap was by choice or not, you have learned something from it. Here are a few prompts to help inspire a more complete, genuine response that feels good when you say it out loud:
🗣”I chose to use the new freedom of my schedule to acquire new skills, dig deeper into subjects I am passionate about, and connect more meaningfully with others in my professional network.....”
🗣”If I had not had extra time on my hands, I might have been too busy to notice incredible opportunities that align even more with my strengths.....”
🗣”In some ways I am grateful for that gap. It helped me come up for air from the day-to-day environment and look at things from a different view. I have been able to take time to re-evaluate my role in the field and and get even more clear about where I want to be headed.....”
So what is the key to an authentic, impressive answer to this question?
✅Take time to reflect, write down, and APPRECIATE the ups and downs of your career journey. I often share a printable with my clients that helps them put the pieces together of their work history, interests, low moments, and achievements up to the present. Once filled out, it’s easier to see an overall theme and gain other valuable insight to respond to this and other challenging interview questions.
Relocate? You Mean Right Now? Oh my!
Are you doing the research on your end about the position and company expectations? That way if a question comes up about travel or relocating, it won’t be such a shocker.
Sometimes the company’s job description and online presence (because you are taking time to scan their website and social media, right?) doesn’t make it clear. If you aren’t sure the position will require travel or relocating, be sure to ask early in the interview process.
However, this question could still turn out to be unsettling, especially if you have a family that needs to stay where they are or other circumstances that prevent you from relocating.
Instead of trapping yourself into a fixed answer of yes or no, start your response with a statement that invites a more positive discussion: “I would like to hear more about what those opportunities would look like.”
If you know that neither travel or relocation are what you want to do, don’t hide it as it could set things up not in your favor later.
Another option to help you create a response that sounds like you may be: “It’s not my preference, but I am keeping an open mind. I realize there will be some trade offs I need to consider so I can provide the most value to your company....”
It can be challenging to know how to balance sharing your limitations so you don't loose the opportunity. Keeping your answer focused on what the company needs and practicing your response out loud will boost your clarity on what to say.
If you are open to relocating, there is a lot to be aware of about how to negotiate the costs of a move into the job offer, even when the company says they can't. By scheduling your 30 minute sample session with me, we can tackle this question and I can share with you some of my top tips on negotiating compensation.
Let Me Count The Reasons...
Now here’s a tricky one depending on your career situation! You know better than to go off about what’s wrong with your current job, but you also don’t want to give an artificial or generic answer that you googled either. What’s a high performing, multi-talented woman like you to do when you get this question?
1) Smile warmly. This is a question that gives you an opportunity to shine. You are ready for it. You knew it was coming before you got in the hot seat because you prepared.
2) Take a moment to breathe deeply. Jumping into your response before centering yourself results too often in rambling or over sharing. Plus, you know it is the breath that connects us with our higher self.
Pausing to breathe deeper boosts your power to share your value in the hot seat.
3) What to say will be different for each person based on your career journey so far. I could offer examples of statements here that would go over nicely, but by now from reading my posts here and on Instagram, you know that is not my style. And "nice" responses does NOT equal POWERFUL, GENUINE and IMPRESSIVE.
One-answer-fits-all answers from the internet do more harm than good. Instead, I help my clients dedicate time and space to map out their career journey so far and then visualize in detail what they most desire to happen next. It is this investment in inner work that helps uncover a goldmine of extraordinary, shining answers to this interview question and many others.
Most of all, believe in you.
Do you want more helpful tips for interviewing and presenting your best self under pressure? I send out a monthly email packed with resources to upgrade your interview.
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Shea Ki is an Interview Skills Coach for spiritually minded women. She offers online sessions for private coaching to share resources that will align your mindset, body language, and energy with your message of professional value.
Shea is also a contributor of practical and intuitive interview tips at several online publications, forums, and groups that want to see more women shine in the hot seat.