How to Answer Difficult Interview Questions – 10 Interview Questions and Answers
One of the worst feelings is when you are in a job interview and the interviewer asks you a question you don’t know how to answer. The best way to prevent the uncomfortable feeling associated with being asked a difficult interview question is to prepare yourself. Familiarize yourself with common interview questions and answers before the interview. Review tips for how to answer difficult interview questions and their suggested responses below to avoid an interview disaster.
Difficult Interview Question #1: “Tell me about yourself.”
When interviewing to become a Paralegal, this is often one of the first questions asked during an interview, and it’s a great opportunity to talk about your work-related accomplishments – rather than tell your life story. Your answer should consist of a brief explanation about your qualifications and experience. Discuss your education, work history, recent career experience, and future career goals.
Suggested answer: “Since graduating from University X, I have been working at a marketing agency where I have substantially increased revenue for my clients. While I’ve enjoyed working on the agency side, I am looking for an in-house marketing job with a company such as this one.”
Difficult Interview Question #2: “Why did you leave your last job?”
This is your opportunity to talk about your experience and your career goals – not to complain about a former boss or provide a list of reasons for leaving your last job. Instead, focus on what you learned at your previous job and how you are ready to use those skills in a new position.
Suggested answer: “Having successfully accomplished X, Y, and Z in my last job, I am ready for another challenge. I am looking to advance in my career and find a position that allows me to grow as a person and an employee.”
Difficult Interview Question #3: “What are your weaknesses?”
Many people dread hearing this question because they aren’t sure how to answer. Your prospective employer doesn’t want to hear a generic response such as “I’m too detail oriented” or “I work too hard.” The key to answering this tough question is not to respond literally.
Respond to this question by identifying areas where you can improve and figure out how it can be an asset to a future employer. If you didn’t get the opportunity to develop certain skills at your previous job, explain how eager you are to acquire those skills in your next job.
Suggested answer: “I wasn’t able to develop my presentation skills at my last job. I want to work in a place that will allow me to become better at giving presentations and speaking in front of others.”
Difficult Interview Question #4: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Your answer should demonstrate to the prospective employer that you are a stable employee and that you want to be with the company long-term. Keep your aspirations to take over the company for which you are interviewing, own your own company, or retire by the age of 40 to yourself.
Suggested answer: “I want to obtain a sales manager position with a national company. I would like to work for a young company, such as this one, so I can take advantage of all the opportunities a growing company has to offer.”
Difficult Interview Question #5: “Why were you laid off?”
This question is becoming more common as the economy continues to slow down. The best way to handle this question is to answer honestly.
Suggested answer: “The economy is tough right now and my company felt the effects of it. I was part of a large staff reduction that I am confident had nothing to do with my performance, as demonstrated by my accomplishments while employed at the company. For example…”
Difficult Interview Question #6: What do you know about our company?
If asked this question, you should be able to discuss the following: a brief overview of the company’s history, services offered by the company, the mission of the company, etc. It is important not to overwhelm the interviewer with information, but to show him or her that you did your research about the company beforehand and make it clear that you would like to learn more.
Suggested answer: “Company X was established in 1982 in Seattle, Washington, and now has offices nationwide. The company’s mission is to provide cost-efficient, full-service financial solutions to businesses across the nation. Company X offers auditing services, financial advisory services, payroll services, and business consulting services.”
Difficult Interview Question #7: “How would the people you have worked with describe you?”
Always ask your colleagues and supervisors for feedback in order to gauge your performance; this way, you can honestly answer questions from prospective employers based on those comments. Keep track of the feedback in order to give it to a prospective employer, if asked. Asking for feedback and keeping a record of the responses will also help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Suggested answer: “My former colleagues said that I’m easy to get along with and that I always approach new projects with enthusiasm. I have a document containing more specific feedback, if you would like to take a look at it.”
Difficult Interview Question #8: “What can you offer my company that other candidates can’t?”
This is when you talk about your accomplishments and your history of getting things done. Go into specifics from your résumé and/or portfolio; explain how you would be an asset to the company and show the potential employer your value.
Suggested answer: “I am the best person for the job. I know there are other candidates who can fill this position, but my passion for what I do sets me apart from the others. I am committed to producing the best results. For example…”
Difficult Interview Question #9: “Tell me about the worst boss you ever had.”
Never speak negatively about your former bosses. A potential boss will assume that you might talk about him or her in the same manner down the line.
Suggested answer: “I’ve had all types of bosses, and some were better than others at managing and communication. While none of my past bosses were awful, there are some who taught me more than others did. I’ve definitely learned what types of management styles I work with the best.”
Difficult Interview Question #10: Why do you want to work for us?
Discuss how your research shows that the company is doing things you would like to be involved with. Your reason for wanting to work for the company should come naturally, so if you feel as though you have to concoct an answer – you probably shouldn’t be interviewing with the company.
Suggested answer: Company X seems to put a great deal of emphasis on research and development. I enjoy creating new things and this seems like a place where inventiveness is encouraged.
The above interview questions and answers should help you prepare for even the toughest interview. Make a good impression by practicing these difficult interview questions before your next interview.
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