Applying for a promotion? Changing career? Be ready for the ideal job interview question!
Why Employers Ask the Ideal Job Interview Question
Experienced interviewers gather information from every answer to every question. Your lack of preparation, and casual attitude towards your career path is revealed by your words and body language. Count on it.
The fact that you just want any job and are willing to say anything you think they want to hear is as obvious as the horn on a rhinoceros. And that will be duly noted.
Plan your strategy for each anticipated job interview question with that simple truth in mind. Don’t count on “getting away” with a flip answer to any interview question. At least not if getting away with it means getting hired. They have more training and experience in interviewing than you have being interviewed.
Just because a question catches you off guard doesn’t mean you need to look for an easy out. So don’t just smile and say that your ideal job is remarkably like the job you are being interviewed for and hope like crazy you get away with your weasel answer.
When the hiring manager selects candidates for the next round of interviews, the notes this interviewer has recorded will be, along with your resume and cover letter, the only data on the desk. Be certain they have something clear and credible.
Is the New Job Identical to your Present Position?
You need to be specific in describing your ideal job, but should you indicate ambitions for promotion? Or if you would prefer to remain in an entry level role, and have no interest in becoming a supervisor or manager, should you say so?
The perfect answer depends on who is in the room during the interview and every subsequent discussion of candidates. You can’t always precisely predict each person’s interests.
Ideally, you would talk to someone on the inside before the interview. Are they looking for someone ambitious or to settle in contentedly for the long haul?
There’s a lot to consider. That’s why you need to plan well ahead of any interview, whether it’s an internal or external application, and learn as much as you can possibly can about what you want and about what they want.
Is the New Job a Promotion or Career Change?
When seeking a promotion, don’t emphasize a strength that’s more valuable for a more junior position. So if you are moving up the ranks, connect to characteristics of your new position. They are sizing you up for the immediate need so “stay in character” for that position.
As your career unfolds, you should be working towards providing greater value to your future employer, either by adding skills or changing jobs.
Your own needs and motivation may be a larger salary and better working conditions. They will understand that, but you also need to convey that you recognize the specifics of this new role and the challenges it will bring.
If this is an internal promotion, for example, you are expected to relate to former colleagues in a markedly different manner than before. Indicate your understanding of this challenge and readiness to step into the role.
Is the New Job More Junior than Past Positions?
New immigrants often find themselves applying for a job less senior than their work history would suggest. So do middle managers who are suddenly thrust into a local job market with few postings at a similar level. In either case, the interviewer has a list of predictable concerns that you would be wise to acknowledge and address up front, in the cover letter and the interview.
The interviewer will likely doubt your willingness to accept your new realities with grace. Understand that they are worried that you might be disruptive to the current team. Reassure them.
Other Employer Concerns about your Ideal Job:
- Are you easily distracted by a noisy environment?
- Do you bring chaos or organization to the team?
- Will you be frustrated by younger colleagues on your team?
- Will your values conflict and sabotage an otherwise great fit? When they are in harmony, you take frustrations in stride.
- Will Iimited learning opportunities frustrate and bore you, limiting your effectiveness?
- Will overly close supervision (micromanaging) brings stress and tension for you, or is it essential for you to thrive?
- Will connecting work to passions creates value for you and the employer.
- How will your desire to learn more about your field without prodding benefit the employer?
I both you and the employer need you to anticipate conflicts before beginning employment, no matter how long you have worked or how mature you are.
What if this Position is Nothing like your Ideal Job?
Desperate for a job to pay the bills? That’s called sustenance work. Is it obvious that your values and theirs don’t match at all?
Focus on what is good about this position and agree with yourself to set aside your other concerns for the time being.
Employers understand the need for sustenance employment, but recognize that they need to know you’ll “hit the ground running”. They won’t want to wait weeks or months for you to get up to speed if you might not be staying long.
Here’s one of the many benefits of thinking through your response to the ideal job interview question before getting to the interview. You can calmly provide whatever response you decide serve you best. And that’s way better than grasping for an answer in front of three or four interviewers.
Check out this presentation on Slideshare with more advice on preparing for the ideal job interview question.