I had a job interview earlier this week and while preparing for it I did some practice questions I thought may come up during the interview.
Job interviews are probably my least favorite thing to do, but I find it helps to prepare well in advance so that you can have an answer for any question that gets asked.
Related: 5 Tips for Successful Cover Letters
Here are a few difficult job interview questions and how to best answer them….
No one likes to talk about their weaknesses, but this question seems to make it into most job interviews. This question is likely phrased like: “What is your biggest weakness?”
This question can be very telling. Since many people don’t prepare for it, they can be caught off guard and give a not-so-great answer. If you’re interviewing to become a taxi driver, the last thing you want to mention as your weakness is your bad driving record.
Describing a personal weakness can be tricky but I find the best answer is to turn a negative into a positive. The hiring manager is looking for a negative that you worked on and eventually turned into a positive.
So if you had some constructive feedback in the past on what you could improve, you could list that as a weakness and describe how you took steps to improve on the weakness (and eventually turned it into one of your strengths).
Conflicts at Work
Everyone deals with conflicts at work; how you handle them is most important.
Any standard job interview is bound to ask about a conflict and how you resolved it. The question may be phrased like: “Describe a recent conflict you had at work and how it was resolved.”
The key with this question is to:
- Briefly describe the original conflict
- Describe what you did to solve it
- Describe the positive outcome that came about at the end
This question isn’t about the conflict itself – it’s about what steps you took to resolve it and how it had a positive ending (hopefully).
Another standard interview question is: “Describe a situation where you achieved a goal by working together as a team.”
Virtually any job will require you to work well with others, so this question is almost guaranteed to come up.
I’ve found the best answer is to think of a (true) example of how you worked together with others to achieve a milestone. Maybe you set a new sales record or came in under budget for a project.
Whatever the case – the most important aspects are:
- Description of the team and goal
- What steps you took to achieve the goal
- A positive conclusion
Again, this one isn’t about the project or team – it’s about how you were able to work well with others (and how you did so) to achieve a goal.
Conclusion: no one likes job interviews but preparing for them is key for success. In my experience the better prepared I am beforehand, the better the odds of success. The last thing you want is to be caught off-guard and give an answer that doesn’t show your true skillset. The harder the question, the more important it is to prepare for it.
How do you prepare for a job interview and what difficult questions have you encountered?