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Tips for answering these 5 tricky interview questions

1. “Tell me about yourself

This is usually the first question, so it sets the tone for the rest of the interview. It is important that you have a cohesive, well-formulated response in order to start the interview on a positive note.

You should…

  • Elaborate on your education and job experiences
  • Describe an accomplishment in your career and relate it to how you would excel in this position
  • Explain what led you to interviewing for this position today – describe your career goals and what excites you about the position and industry

You should NOT…

  • Get too personal – always keep it professional
  • Ramble or include irrelevant details – stick to the point
  • Slander previous employers – this is unprofessional and a major red flag to hiring mangers

2. What is your greatest weakness?

This question tests your level of self-awareness and motivation for improvement. It is tricky because you don’t want to appear dishonest or calculated, but you also don’t want the weakness you say to cause the hiring manager to question your capabilities.

You should…

  • Share a weakness that wouldn’t negatively impact your job performance
  • Think of a time in your professional life where you have turned one of your weaknesses into a strength
  • Explain how you are actively working to improve this weakness and provide an example

You should NOT…

  • Mention a weakness without an explanation
  • Disguise a strength as a weakness (e.g., “I work too much”, or “I am a perfectionist”) – you will be seen as dishonest and/or manipulative
  • Be self-deprecating in your answer – you never want to seem unconfident or defeated

3. “Why should we hire you?”

This question is meant to highlight what makes you unique from other candidates. You always want to make sure your answer is valuable and stands out!

You should…

  • Explain what unique value you would bring to the company
  • Relate your skills to the requirements in the job description and provide examples
  • Describe your previous unique job experiences and explain how these experiences would positively impact your job performance

You should NOT…

  • Explain your skills without examples – you want the hiring manager to truly believe in your skills
  • Answer vaguely – always give concrete examples
  • Sound desperate, arrogant and/or conceited in your answer – be confident, yet humble

4. “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

This is a really important question because the interviewer wants to know that you are not only in it for the short term and that you are passionate about this position and company. Additionally, they ask this question to gauge your planning and goal-setting abilities.

You should…

  • Explain how you would like to grow in your career – what skills do you want to improve?
  • List the responsibilities you hope to have or projects you hope to be working on and why
  • Discuss your interests and how you would like to grow your knowledge of the industry

You should NOT…

  • Say that you want to be making more money or working for a different company
  • Seem unsure or say that you don’t know – it will make you seem shortsighted and unprepared
  • Make it sound like this position is simply a steppingstone to a promotion

5. “Do you have any questions?”

This question is usually last, but definitely not least. Always ask questions! Remember, the interview goes both ways; you want to determine if the company would be a good fit for you as well.

You should…

  • Always plan to ask questions at the end of the interview to further demonstrate your interest in the company
  • Ask questions that you genuinely want to know the answer to
  • Take notes on their answers for future reference

You should NOT…

  • Ask inappropriate or unrelated questions
  • Bring up questions regarding salary, vacation time, or benefits
  • Ask questions that show you haven’t done any research on the company – always do research beforehand!

Example questions:

  • “What does success look like in this position?” / “How do you measure success?”
  • “Can you tell me about most successful employee you have ever hired?”
  • “What are the opportunities/trajectory for growth beyond this position?”
  • “Can you tell me about the company culture?” / “How would you describe the culture of company?”
  • “How are the company culture and values integrated into this position?” / “How does this position contribute to these shared values?”

We hope that these tips help you ace your next interview!

The Right Team. Right Now.

Photo by fizkes/Shutterstock.com

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