At some point during your job interview, you’re very likely to be asked a handful of difficult, even tricky, questions.
Don’t blame the interviewer. He/she genuinely wants to hear how you phrase your answers and how you respond to the situation.
To get better prepared, ask yourself the following questions, then come up with your most suitable responses. Practice out loud until you’re able to deliver your answers easily and smoothly, as if you’ve never practiced them at all.
1) Tell me about yourself.
The interviewer has no interest in your personal life – at least not right now. What the interviewer is really asking is: “Why should I hire you?” The interviewer is posing this question in a clever way. Your task is to cleverly respond. Talk about your professional background, your strengths, and why hiring you will bring tangible benefits to the company.
2) You seem to switch jobs a lot. Why?
The wrong answer, of course, is simply to say you’re always on the lookout for a better job with better pay. Nobody is going to hire a candidate who regards every new position as a stepping stone to the next. Anything less than three years requires a convincing reason. Be succinct and convincing. Never dwell on the negative.
3) What would you change about your former job?
Again, never speak negatively about your former position, co-workers or supervisor. If you’re asked about a former job, use the opportunity to express how you wished you could have had more responsibility, or that you wanted to become a more valuable member of the team. No need for details.
4) Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?
This is tricky because no one can predict the future. But this question offers you a chance to spread your wings without sounding ruthless. Don’t answer: “I want your job,” even if you do. A better response would be: “I would like to work toward a job similar to yours.” That sounds much less threatening, more respectful to the interviewer. Always be respectful.
5) What’s an example of a major problem you faced and overcame?
This question is asked by interviewers who want to observe how you define a problem, identify options, decide on a solution, manage obstacles, and solve predicaments. Deliver your story in a thorough, compelling manner. It is always best to end your story with what you learned from the experience and – if applicable – relate how the experience has better prepared you for the role you’re seeking.
6) What has been your greatest accomplishment? What did you learn from it?
While recounting how you saved your company $1 million in taxes might be quite an achievement, it will likely ring false in terms of a personal accomplishment. Better to talk about an example of hard work and perseverance. The details in your answer can be used to reveal your professional strengths. And no, this is not the time to talk about overcoming drug abuse, alcoholism, or failed marriages.
7) What is your greatest weakness?
Again, focus on work, not your personal life or character. Turn this question into a positive: Talk about how your commitment to work sometimes translates into working long hours, sacrificing free time to get the job done. You might note, for example, that you’ve become much more organized and now prioritize better so that essential projects are always completed on time.