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It's best to plan your answers to interview questions

Most job interviews include opportunities to shoot yourself in the foot, so it's smart to plan your responses to routine questions ahead of time. Here are some examples. Diane Stafford, McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

"Tell me about your worst boss."

Don't do it. Even if you worked for Attila the Hun, negative comments may paint you as a complainer.

A safer response (even if it's a stretch): "I never really had an awful boss, but I've learned what kind of boss I appreciate."

Then say something specific, such as, "I really appreciated the prompt feedback from ... "

"Why were you laid off?"

A safe answer: "The company had to cut costs, and they did it by reducing staff."

Then stop. Don't venture that your performance review may have had something to do with it. Besides, you may not know the real reason you were let go.

"Where do you see yourself in five years?"

Never say, "Retired," or, "In your job," or, "I'd like to be in business for myself."

The employer likes hunting for workers nearly as little as you like hunting for a job. A safe answer would be: "I'm a stable worker and very interested in growing with this company as a long as I can make a contribution."

"Would you be happy working for less than you used to make?"

Safe answer: "I've researched the salary range for this position, and I'm comfortable with it. I'm more excited about this job than I am about earning more money."

Of course, you must have actually researched the pay and know whether you can live with it.

"What are your weaknesses?"

As if any interviewer truly expects an honest answer!

Don't be flip and proclaim that you have no weaknesses. Don't say something silly like, "I can't skip."

Say something job-oriented but nothing that indicates you lack a core competence.

Never admit that you have minimal computer skills. (Get to a class immediately, if that's the case.) Instead, say, for example, that you'd love the chance to improve your social media application skills.

Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at the Kansas City Star.

It's best to plan your answers to interview questions 04/30/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 29, 2010 5:07pm]
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