Tag: interview

The second most difficult interview question

The second most difficult interview question

Last night I attended a career workshop for some bright young students of one of the best boarding schools in Hong Kong. This article summarizes my advice to the young people regarding how to respond to the final question of a job interview:

“OK, do you have any questions?” 

There are a few typical responses.

  1. No, thank you. I am fine for now.
  2. Yes, I read from your website that your mission is to enhance people’s life style by innovative technology. Can you further elaborate?
  3. Yes. How many days of annual leave do I get?

All of the above are wrong answers, with number 1 doing the least damage. If you say you have no question, fine. The interviewer will say “Thank you for coming. We will get back to you soon.”

But if you really ask a question? You ask me to elaborate on the company strategy? Come on, I have already interviewed 5 people today. Do I have to explain our company strategy again? Our strategy, at least the part that I can tell you, is already written on our website. And that press release featuring our CEO. Haven’t you googled and read it already?

The correct way to handle this question is to do what politicians and CEOs are “media-trained” to do. When asked a question, there is no need to really answer. Just say whatever you want to say, and frame it as an answer. In this case, frame what you want to say as a question.

So at the final point of an interview, you want to use the opportunity to reiterate how keen you are, and why they should hire you.  One of the reason must be that you are an interesting person to work with. So make this response interesting.

Research on the internet in advance. Read the company’s new releases. Find a particular point that interests you. Express your view about that issue, and frame it as a question.  For example, “I read that you plan to launch  iPhone 7s soon. I also read rumours saying it can make toast. I think it will be great if it makes cappuccino too. What do you think?”

Or something like that.  Just don’t ask the interviewer to elaborate on stuff already written on their website.

If you can’t figure out something interesting to say to show that you have some relevant ideas of your own, then just use this as a chance to summarize your key strength:

“No, I don’t have any questions now. But I think I am a really suitable candidate of this position because……”

Keep it short and succinct, reminding the interviewer why he/she should hire you.

Oh, the most difficult interview question:

“What are your weaknesses?”

Honestly, I really think this question shouldn’t even be asked. And I never asked it to the many people I have interviewed.

Everyone has weaknesses. You want to test how honest the candidate is by asking this question? If he tells you the truth, he may be jeopardized.  I don’t see how this is a fair or meaningful question.

Most people probably answer like this: “My weakness is that I work too hard.”  or “I am a perfectionist.”

No one is going to tell you that he is not attentive to details when interviewing for an accounting job, or that he really doesn’t like picking up the phone when interviewing for a sales job.

You simply can’t find out true weaknesses from this question. The only effect is to make a bona fide candidate feel awkward.

The best answer to this question I can think of is:

“Chocolate and cheesecake.”

About the Author

Leroy was the Head of China for Kelly Services, a Fortune 500 recruitment and workforce solution company.  Currently he works with an accounting firm as the Head of Advisory, doing cross border business advisory and M&A deals in China, Japan and Hong Kong.

Other articles:

 Why Hong Kong is better than Shanghai

Investing in Japan (despite the slow GDP)