What are your three greatest strengths and weaknesses?
This is one of the most common job interview questions, and also one of the most challenging. The first part is a slam dunk; the second is a potential landmine unless you are careful. For strengths, keep in mind that every company needs people who can do three things well: 1) earn revenue; 2) save money; and 3) save time. For weaknesses, avoid admitting to character flaws. I prefer a “weakness” to be skill-related and past tense: “I wasn’t astute with PowerPoint when I first started, but I read a great book, practised, and became very proficient. Now I train others in PowerPoint presentations.” Any time you can demonstrate how you overcame a weakness, all the better. Another good “weakness” example is to give general answers in which you can plug perceived strengths: “I am passionate about my work and always give each task my all. So sometimes when I see others loafing, I can get frustrated.”
What keeps you up at night?
Another landmine you cannot step on. This is another way of asking for weaknesses. As you begin to feel more and more comfortable with the interviewer, there is a tendency to let your guard down. Don’t. The answer is: “Aside from the occasional nightmare about interviewing, I work so hard that I rarely have a difficult time sleeping. I believe in proper time management and recharging my batteries with sound sleep. I’m no good to anyone if I’m tired.”
Tell me how you progressed through your last company
A good question particularly if he or she is looking for a promotable candidate. Here you can intersperse more about your personal and business traits. Be very complimentary of the company you work for: “The training was superb” or “I was fortunate to have some great mentors who really helped me.” It will be hard not to ramble a little, but focus on the promotions by title as a result of dedicated hard work and outstanding accomplishments with outright genius. If you haven’t been formally promoted, mention a few new challenges you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them.