Why Companies Ask You Those Job Interview Questions – And Your Power When Answering Them

By Career Love

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In our earlier post on how to answer the popular job interview question “what’s your greatest weakness”, you learned some specific strategy hacks. In this article, we shed light on the company side of things. Why do they ask these interview questions? And why are you extremely powerful when you answer?

Recruiters and hiring managers ask questions like “tell me about your greatest weaknesses and strengths”, “why do you want this job?”, “why do you want to leave your current job?”, because if they hire you for the long run and invest in you, they must be assured that you can cope with any obstacles that arise.

Companies take a huge risk by hiring you. Before they commit to forking over all the costs of salaries and benefits, decision-makers must do a deep dive into your history, extrapolate your future performance and make an intelligent bet on you.

Your salary is just one of the huge costs and investments in hiring you. There are also all the administrative and bureaucratic tasks involved such as running an HR team or outsourcing a recruitment team, paying for background checks and advertising job listings online.  Plus there are weeks of other employees’ time and energy to onboard you, as well as investment in your skill upgrade training.

This is all before you actually start performing and delivering the results that your new employer desires - the “rate of return” you provide. This employee ‘break-even point’ - when an employee starts to become productive - can range from weeks to months to even one year for executives.

A study by Mellon Financial Corp. found that the learning curve for newly-hired employees to achieve full productivity involved a company loss in productivity of between 1% and 2.5% of total revenues.

Take a moment to realize what’s involved from the company side here.

Whether it’s a small operation or a large corporation, “You The New Hiree” is an unknown factor entering an enterprise that’s already established and running. They need you, but they also must be wary.

The questions and processes that companies use to filter and hire new employees may seem outdated, unfair, impersonal or whatever, but that’s the best they can come up with to protect themselves. That’s the reality.

A company requires assurance and proof that you’re stable, reliable, flexible, open, learning-capable, able to solve problems while working with others. Questions about your past track record and weaknesses are not to interrogate or scare you. Like the resume submission stage, it’s a test:

  • to see if you raise any red flags during your answer
  • to see whether you can describe your past work projects and experiences in detail (with concrete evidence, not BS)
  • to ensure that you can rise to the occasion and feel comfortable in your own skin
  • to determine that you don’t just live in your own little bubble, where everyone else is the problem – not you

Although there are certainly inappropriate answers you can provide, there are no right or wrong answers in terms of your selection of what content to include. In fact, you are at your most powerful during the interview.


Because when you get the chance to answer company questions during a job interview, you control the narrative at that moment. The interviewers have given you the floor.

You’re the smart editor, intelligent filter and wise gatekeeper at this point. You’re positioned to tell interviewers, for example, about your “tiny bits of weakness” but you quickly pivot to focus the majority of your answers on your strengths and how you moved forward in all circumstances, even challenging ones.

You decide how much detail to use. You decide which great statistics, stories and performance highlights you will speak about.

Is that not a great position to be in? You are much more powerful than you think.


For over 15 years CareerLove International Job Search Coaching and Resume Writing has helped professionals around the world realize their career dreams. Now, what about you? If you enjoyed this article and want to empower your job search in just one afternoon, head over to CareerLove's collection of DIY tools for your CV/resume, LinkedIn and job interview.


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