I got together with one of my friends lately and he was telling me how hard a time it is going through the interview process for a new job. He sometimes gets stoned by “fatal” interview questions as he doesn’t know what the “expected” answer is. So far, I’ve been quite successful in interviews. I think I don’t know everything but it wouldn’t hurt if I gave a few of my answers to common interview questions.
Tough Interview question #1: Tell me about yourself
I would qualify this question as “hypocritical”. The interviewer doesn’t really want to know about yourself, he wants to know about what you can do for the job. Therefore, this is your first opportunity to shine during the interview. Talk about some success you have had in situations that could happen in the position you’re applying for. Try to relate your past working experiences or diplomas that have a link for the job. Use 2 or 3 tranferable qualities (that you will be able to put on the table later on the interview) that describes you. I would mention at least one personal thing at the end (to tell your interviewer that you are human too 😉 ).
Tough Interview question #2: What is your biggest flaw?
You will always hear this “fatal” question during a serious interview. Most people will say that they are perfectionist or that they don’t have many flaws concerning this job they are applying for…BS! And the interviewer knows about it. Tell the truth, find something interesting. The point is to find a real flaw so you show some credibility. We all have flaws, therefore, it is important to show that you know your strengths and weaknesses during the interview. Here’s an example of my answer to this though interview question:
“I am bad with small details on paperwork. I sometimes forget to complete the form 100%. I am aware that this is something I need to work on. I now take more time when completing documents to make sure I don’t forget any part of the form”.
In this example, I expose a real flaw; I tell my interviewer that I know about it and I also explain how I am working on my weakness. This is how you need to answer this question.
Tough Interview question #3: Why should I hire YOU?
This is your ultimate chance to shine during the interview. This is also a moment of truth that many candidates miss during interviews ;-). This is when you can review your strengths, explain how they can be beneficial for the position you are applying for. You can also explain that you have been accumulating your experience in order to get such a position and that you are now ready for it. You should be able to show your true commitment to get the job and a sincere will to work for this company (if you don’t it may be because you are not a good fit for the job and/or the company).
Tough Interview question #4: How much do you want?
I always find this question interesting as it opens the first basis for future negotiations. This is where your interviewer wants to know if you will be expensive or not. On the other hand, I personally think it’s too early to discuss the salary. What is the point of talking about money when you don’t even know if you have the job or not. Don’t assume that you will get it because they ask you that question, it is part of any interview questionnaire (created by the Evil HR department 😉 ). I usually answer that I want to work in this field for this company and will wait to see if I get the job before talking about money. I also add that we can surely find an arrangement once they have made their choice. If they insist, and only if they insist about how much you want, you can also add that you are currently making X and hoping to improve your situation both on the career and income levels. If they are interested, they will eventually make an offer. The truth is that they can’t at the moment of the interview, so try to avoid a clear answer at that time.
Tough Interview question #5: Do you have any questions?
Some interviewees say “no” and they thank their interviewer for their time. This is actually a very important part of the interview… but this time it is for you. It is a moment where you can ask questions to validate the companies’ culture, way of working, and what you can expect from your future colleagues. I always ask questions on work schedules, turnover rate or why the previous person left. This will tell you a lot about your future manager and employer. It’s important to fit for the job, but it’s even more important that the job fits you!
Final thoughts on tough interview questions
In the end, you shouldn’t worry too much about tough questions. In fact, the most important part is to be able to answer to each question with something that is true about yourself. If you lie during an interview, they will hire someone that you are not. And your employer will ask you to be that person…every single day. So unless you are interested in changing for life, I bet you are better off by answering the truth during an interview!
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