- What is your greatest weakness?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- What do you want to do?
- If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
The correct answer is #3, though if I were the type to ask about the tree thing I’m sure that would be the most important question for me (because I’d be that kind of guy.)
So, did you get it right?
What do you want to do? It seems like a simple enough question, but there are so many possible answers that finding the right one can be overwhelming at times. This question stumps all but the most prepared candidates, and for many different reasons. Entry-level candidates are tempted to say “I’m looking to do anything to get my foot in the door (which is another post for another day)” because they don’t want to disqualify themselves from any opportunities. More experienced Candidates give in to the temptation to say something smart and b-school sounding, like “I want to be able to influence the strategic direction of the department by introducing creative solutions and structured processes.” Yeah, you and everybody else.
The way to answer the question of what you want to do, in case you were wondering, is one of two things. If you’re in an informational/exploratory interview, you want to be as specific as possible about what kind of position (or at least what kind of career) you want. Here, an entry-level candidate can get away with “I want a position where I can put in the work and learn the skills to become a successful sales/marketing/pr/basket-weaving/marine biology professional (please, choose one that’s true for you.) More experienced candidates need to be even more specific – talk about how you want your next job to be different from your current/last one, what specific skills you want to utilize and/or develop, what you want to DO every day.
If you’re interviewing for a specific position, you’ve done your homework and are applying for appropriate jobs, there’s only one possible anwer to this question (hint: it will sound an awful lot like the job description.)
As an HR guy/recruiter, my job is to make sure that the best possible candidates for a position are presented to the hiring manager. If you can articulate what you WANT to do, it really helps me determine whether that’s you. The jobs I recruit for are hard jobs. If you don’t really want to be doing the job, you won’t last in it. And then in 6 months when you quit or get fired, it’s my fault for recommending you.
I don’t care for things being my fault. So for both of our sakes, know what you want to do before you walk into my office for an interview.
Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.