By: Alexis Carey

Thought job interviews were all about your future employer asking you questions? Think again.

Because according to human resources expert Simone Allan, it is the questions you ask which could make or break your entire job application.

Allan, the founder of Sydney human resources company Mondo, said even the most confident and prepared jobseeker can be stumped when their potential boss asks if they have any questions during an interview.

But she told there were several questions that will wow an interviewing panel — and several that could cost you the job.

“If you ask too many questions in the first interview like ‘what are my hours?’ it can come across as too presumptuous,” she said.

“And if you ask about pay during your first interview, it’s like asking ‘are you going to buy me a diamond ring?’ on a first date. It suggests that money is the only thing you are interested in.”

Instead, Allan said it was essential to ask a question that paints yourself in a positive light.

“If they ask if you have any questions to ask, it’s far better to ask something around your performance, like ‘If you hire me, what would you want me to nail in the first three months?’ or ‘How would you measure my performance after the first six months?'” she said.

Allan also offered some suggestions for one of the most “dreaded” interview questions of all time.

“They often also ask what you don’t do well, and for your weaknesses. But if you are aware of your weaknesses and what you are doing to counter them, it shows you have self-awareness and that you are human,” she said.

“So share a specific thing that you need to build your skills in, for example, ‘I’m more creative rather than good with numbers, so I counter that by making sure I have a very good numbers person I can trust’ or ‘I’m an action person and I don’t like talking about fluff, so I make sure I spend 10 minutes every day saying hello to people even though it’s not my style’ — show you are trying to counter your weakness in some way.”

Allan, who estimates she has interviewed more than 25,000 executives during her successful career, said other potential interview pitfalls related to salary expectations and previous jobs.

“If they bring up money, ideally state what you’ve earned in the past and say you want your salary to relate to your performance — that always sounds good,” she suggested.

“And like a date, don’t talk about your past negatively. If you say, ‘I hated my last job, my boss was really awful’ … you don’t want to hear someone ranting and raving, so it’s better to be positive and say something like, ‘I learnt a lot of things in the role.'”

Allan said common CV mistakes include providing unflattering or inappropriate photos, resumes that are more than three pages long and forgetting to include your contact details on every page.

She suggested all employees should keep a running list of career achievements as it can be easy to forget your successes in the midst of a job application.

“Keep a record of things you’ve achieved — because people often remember the bad but forget the good things they’ve contributed to,” she said.

She said that record would also help when it came to performance reviews or negotiating a pay rise.

Source: NZ Herald


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