How to Answer Those Tough Job Interview Questions

» Posted on Jul 20, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Job interviews are stressful, awkward, and a little intimidating, and that’s when you’re prepared. Go in unprepared and chances are you’ll leave dejected, resume clutched in quivering hands, wondering where it all went wrong.

Usually things go off the rails when job seekers choke on the ‘tough’ questions. But, according to experts like Stacey Parker of Randstad Canada, the tough interview questions, if handled properly, can give job seekers an opportunity to demonstrate that they are driven, focused, and open to new challenges. All things employers respect!

Listed below are some of the most challenging questions an employer may ask, and a few tips on how to answer them.

1.    Tell me about yourself.
This one is tough because you need to find a balance between providing enough information without spiraling off into a ramble. If the interviewer is looking at her watch while stifling a yawn, it’s time to switch gears. Try to keep your answers focused on information that pertains to the position to which you are applying.

2.    What are your weaknesses?
This, by far, is the most dreaded interview question. Go into too much detail and the interviewer may wonder how you manage to tie your own shoes. Claim  not to have any weaknesses, and the interviewer may regard you as a pathological liar. The best way to handle this question is to choose a professional trait and explain how it can be an advantage if well managed. For example, “I guess I’m a bit of a control freak, but I understand the importance of delegation and making others feel included.”

3.    Why did you leave your previous job? / Why are you leaving your current position?
Always be respectful of your past/current employer. Launching into a fifteen minute, profanity-laden tirade questioning your previous boss’ sanity is not the best option. Be as honest and specific as possible and always remain positive and focused on the future.

4.    Where do you see yourself in five years? / What are your long-range career goals?
There’s a temptation here to be sarcastic. Resist! Don’t mention that you hope to have your own business soon, are going back to school full-time, or this is just a temporary gig until something better comes along. Just indicate you want a secure position that offers chances to grow, develop skills, and is challenging.

5.    What are your salary expectations?
You can shoot for the moon, but it is best to have a firm understanding of your worth in the marketplace. Stating, ‘Three hundred thousand a year plus bonuses,” when the average salary for the position is fifty thousand, may paint you in ridiculous light. If possible, try to avoid giving out a precise number and just focus on how important it is to learn more about the job.

6.    Do you have any questions?
The answer to this must be ‘yes!’ If you remain mute, the employer will jump to all sorts of conclusions: you are not engaged; you are not overly interested; you didn’t do any research. This is an excellent chance to ask questions about the  company’s culture and history, about advancement opportunities, and even about company sponsored social activities. HAVE SOME QUESTIONS PREPARED!

There is no sugar-coating it. Job interviews are stressful, but much of that stress can be eliminated by being prepared. Do your research, and when the time comes, take a deep breath and engage with your prospective employer in a relevant, compelling, and positive way. Following these steps does not guarantee employment, but it gives you the best chance to land that job. Remember: Confidence comes by being prepared!

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