How To Answer Tough Interview Questions
We teamed up with The Daily Mirrors Careers Editor, Tricia Phillips to offer a free webinar on how to answer tough interview questions. We sent a survey towards the end of last year and wanted to know what questions you got in an interview and needed advice for. We received some great responses, some very surprising and some common so we decided to cover them in the following webinar.
What Other Companies Are You Interviewing With
Companies might ask you who else youre interviewing with for a few reasons. Maybe they want to see how serious you are about this role and team or theyre trying to find out who theyre competing with to hire you. On one hand, you want to express your enthusiasm for this job, but at the same time, you dont want to give the company any more leverage than it already has by telling them theres no one else in the running. Depending on where you are in your search, you can talk about applying to or interviewing for a few roles that have XYZ in commonthen mention how and why this role seems like a particularly good fit.
Describe Who You Are Or Tell Me About Your Background
In a job interview, you can be asked to describe who you are, Describe yourself in one word or Describe yourself in 3 words, but all such questions essentially mean that you talk about your skills and qqualities.
In an HR round, you will surely face this question among all other HR interview questions and answers asked to you, and I am sure you treat it as the easiest of all questions.
Well, its not!
Never underestimate the possibility of scoring better points with a crisp answer, if you feel confident.
It can become a fate-changer for applicants having fewer than 5 years of total job experience.
If your degree is obviously related to the job youre interviewing for, you can give this answer.
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Culture & Fit Questions
This last set of questions, debatably, can be the most important for long-term success. Youre not looking to hire temporarily, youre hiring for the long haul.
At the end of the day, you want to feel confident in your selection based on their character, the ability to collaborate, and having empathy.
What Can You Bring To The Company
When interviewers ask this question, they dont just want to hear about your background. They want to see that you understand what problems and challenges theyre facing as a company or department as well as how youll fit into the existing organization. Read the job description closely, do your research on the company, and make sure you pay attention in your early round interviews to understand any issues youre being hired to solve. Then, the key is to connect your skills and experiences to what the company needs and share an example that shows how youve done similar or transferable work in the past.
What Are Your Goals For The Future
Hiring managers often ask about your future goals to determine whether or not youre looking to stay with the company long-term. Additionally, this question is used to gauge your ambition, expectations for your career and ability to plan ahead. The best way to handle this question is to examine your current career trajectory and how this role helps you reach your long-term goals.
Example answer:I would like to continue developing my marketing expertise over the next several years. One of the reasons Im interested in working for a fast-growing startup company is that Ill have the ability to wear many hats and collaborate with many different departments. I believe this experience will serve me well in achieving my ultimate goal of someday leading a marketing department.
Read more: Interview Question: What Are Your Future Goals?
Why Did You Decide To Apply For This Position
Through this question, the interviewers want to assess how passionate you are for the position. And no, the answer isnt:
Well, Im very passionate about not starving to death.
Well, I needed the money, and you guys tend to pay a lot.
What the interviewer is looking for here is to see how passionate you are about the job or the company. After all, job performance is directly linked to job satisfaction. The happier you are about your position at the company, the more productive youll be.
And heres the kicker – your passion will be very evident during the interview.
When youre talking to a person thats passionate about something, you can pretty much feel them glow as they talk. And if youre an HR manager whos interviewed hundreds of people, this is a very good sign to hire the candidate.
So, use this knowledge to your advantage.
When asked this question, your answer should include 2 things:
Sample Answer 1:
Im very passionate about sustainability and renewable energy. In fact, I minored in Environmental Science at .
Ive always wanted to put my engineering degree to a good cause – and the position as a Sustainability Coordinator at is just the right thing.
Ive been following your company for the past few years, and I love how youre changing the renewable energy landscape in America.
Possible answer 2:
Key Questions To Ask Your Interviewers
The following are types of questions to consider asking a prospective public interest employer. These kinds of questions should help you determine whether the job will be a good match for you. It is important to ask thoughtful questions as well as questions that are pertinent to the specific organization so that the employer knows that you are very interested in this particular job.
- Could you tell me more about the areas of specialization?
- On what kinds of cases or issues are you currently working?
- How do you enjoy your work overall?
- Could you tell me a little about how you came to work here?
- What do you consider to be the greatest challenge of your job?
- What kind of person is your office looking for in this position?
- What personal attributes are required in order to do this type of work well?
- Who would supervise my work?
- How much direction/autonomy is there in this position?
- What kind of training would I get?
- How would you describe the work atmosphere here?
- What are your greatest challenges for the coming year?
- What is the offices history of hiring summer interns into full-time positions?
- What are your expectations for the person hired into this position?
What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses
It can feel awkward to discuss your weaknesses in an environment where youre expected to focus on your accomplishments. However, when answered correctly, sharing your weaknesses shows that you are self-aware with an interest in continued growth and learningtraits that are extremely attractive to many employers. Consider using this formula for your response:
1. Select an actual weakness that is honest but professionally relevant:“Im naturally shy…
2. Add context:“…From high school and into my early professional interactions, it sometimes prevented me from speaking up…
3. Provide a specific example:“…After being a part of a workgroup that didnt meet our strategic goals two quarters in a row, I knew I owed it to my team and myself to confidently share my ideas…
4. Explain how you overcame or are working to overcome it:“…I joined an improv acting class. Its fun and has really helped me overcome my shyness. I learned practical skills around leading discussions and sharing diverse perspectives. Now, in group settings, I always start conversations with the quieter folks. I know exactly how they feel, and people can be amazing once they start talking.
Read more: Interview Question: What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?
What Are The Most Challenging Aspects Of The Position
Asking this question to the interviewer shows that you’re thinking about contributing and succeeding in the position. Understanding the challenging aspects of the job allows you to highlight further your ability to handle the issues inherent in the position. How the interviewer answers this question can also warn you of leadership issues or unclear expectations.
What Are Your Biggest Strengths
I’m not sure why interviewers ask this question your resume and experience should make your strengths readily apparent.
Even so, if you’re asked, provide a sharp, on-point answer. Be clear and precise. If you’re a great problem solver, don’t just say that: Provide a few examples, pertinent to the opening, that prove you’re a great problem solver. If you’re an emotionally intelligent leader, don’t just say that: Provide a few examples that prove you know how to answer the unasked question.
In short, don’t just claim to have certain attributes — prove you have those attributes.
What Do You Know About The Company
Research, research, research! In order to answer this question well, you must show an understanding and awareness of what the company does. This includes the different service areas it offers, who their main clients are, and a good idea about the size of the company. You should also research the history of the business, find out when it was started and what the company has achieved.
It doesnt matter how competent and qualified you are for the role, turning up to the interview unprepared for this question can completely ruin your chances of getting the job.
How Do You Prioritize Projects Or Tasks
What goes into prioritizing client work versus internal work? What happens when they have multiple tasks with the same deadline?
Why this is important: Its important to understand how a digital marketer goes about prioritizing projects. I would be hesitant to hire someone with little organization skills or lacking a strong sense of project management systems.
As digital marketers, were often thrown many tasks in a day or week, where proper prioritization is crucial. Especially when working in an agency setting, each client sees themselves as the highest priority.
That cant always be the case.
Some warning signs to look for:
- Is this candidate someone who gets stressed out easily?
- Has the candidate ever used project management software or a task system before?
- Do they have trouble committing or sticking to deadlines?
Work Habits And Working Style Interview Questions
Once youve gotten a sense of whether or not your employee is qualified to do the job you want to fill, take some time to determine what kind of worker they are.
This series of questions is a bit of everything: it looks at personality, the culture they work best in, and a little bit of their background as an employee.
Where it differs from the previous categories is by focusing on your potential new hires work style. Are they more detail oriented, or are they a big-picture thinker? What are their strengths and weaknesses as an employee? How do they deal with difficult coworkers? These kinds of questions inform what type of employee youre dealing with.
As with personality and culture, it comes down to a matter of fit. Do you prefer someone who works best collaboratively, or who keeps to him or herself? Do you want an employee who directly addresses a conflict with a colleague head-on, or who goes through you to resolve it?
There are no right answers hereit depends on the type of employee youre looking for.
Question: Do You Have Any Questions
My simple advice is: yes, you had better have questions.
When I hired people to work on my teams in the past, I expected interviewees to have questions.
This is your chance to interview the interviewer. In essence, to learn about the company, the role, the corporate culture, the managers leadership style, and a host of other important things.
Candidates who are genuinely interested in the opportunity, ask these types of questions. Those who dont ask questions give the impression theyre just kicking the tires or not really too concerned about getting the job.
It is imperative that you ask questions that do three things:
When given the floor to ask questions, you should realize the interview is not over yet. Good candidates know this is another time to shine.
Most Common Questions Asked During A Job Interview
Many hurdles need to be crossed and check before starting a particular job. The first step is applying for the job. If got selected then comes the next step which is the interview. It is the most crucial part. If this step is crossed then everything else falls in its place automatically. And all the hard work done is worth it if one gets his or her dream job. But one thing is always common and that is everyone remains tensed before the interview thinking about the type of tricky question that will be asked.There is nothing to worry about as here are some common questions presented along with the answers and some tips. Have a look into it and ace your job interview.
Go Beyond The Common Interview Questions
Yes, the job search is intimidating, but reviewing interview questions and answers in advance is one way to calm your nerves and boost your confidence. Are you looking for more ways to stand apart from the competition? Set up a free profile with Monster and we can send you career advice, workplace insights, and more job interview tips directly to your inbox. It’s a quick and easy way to stay one step ahead.
If You Were To Hire Me What Might I Expect In A Typical Day
This shows your eagerness about the position, Harrison says, and it gives you a better idea of what the job would be like on a daily basis so you can decide whether you want to pursue it.
“A frank conversation about position expectations and responsibilities will ensure not only that this is a job you want, but also one that you have the skills to be successful in,” he says.
Question: When Can You Start
Be careful about this question for several reasons:
It doesnt mean that you have landed the job. They may be just checking to add that to their notes. You must keep your guard up until you are in your car and driving away from the interview.
If you are currently employed, you should be honest about the start date and show professionalism. You should tell them you would have to discuss a transition with your current company to see if they require a two-week notice . If you currently have a critical role, your potential new employer would expect a transition period.
If you can start right away , you certainly can say youre able to start tomorrow. Sense of urgency and excitement about starting work at the new company is always a good thing.
Decide What Comes Next
Once you’ve gone through the process of identifying all of your core soft and hard skills, the real question is, what will you do with this knowledge?
What you decide to do with this knowledge is completely up to you. The easiest thing to do is to stay content with what you’re doing at your day job, even if your work is meaningless.
I challenge you to start looking for a more meaningful job where you can focus on building your core skills, engaging your strengths, and continue discovering what you’re truly passionate about in life.
Personally, I’ve found that starting a side business can often be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. Mine has been an instrument by which I’ve gotten to have a connection, however small, with hundreds of thousands of people over the past couple of years. Now that’s motivating.
The next step toward finding a way to launch into a meaningful self-employed career, is to combine your soft and hard skills, to come up with profitable business ideas that’ll engage your strengths and areas of interest.
If you’re passionate about cooking, naturally step into a role of mentoring others, and have a knack for writing & speaking, I’d be willing to bet that you’d stand a strong chance of success in creating a food blog, or offering one-on-one cooking classes in your area.
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Out Of All The Candidates Why Should We Hire You
Since a candidate cannot compare himself with people he doesn’t know, all he can do is describe his incredible passion and desire and commitment and … well, basically beg for the job.
And you learn nothing of substance.
Here’s a better question: “What do you feel I need to know that we haven’t discussed?” Or even “If you could get a do-over on one of my questions, how would you answer it now?”
Rarely do candidates come to the end of an interview feeling they’ve done their best. Maybe the conversation went in an unexpected direction. Maybe the interviewer focused on one aspect of their skills and totally ignored other key attributes. Or maybe candidates started the interview nervous and hesitant, and now wish they could go back and better describe their qualifications and experience.
Plus, think of it this way: Your goal as an interviewer is to learn as much as you possibly can about every candidate, so don’t you want to give them the chance to ensure you do?
Just make sure to turn this part of the interview into a conversation, not a soliloquy. Don’t just passively listen and then say, “Thanks. We’ll be in touch.” Ask follow-up questions. Ask for examples.
And of course if you’re asked this question, use it as a chance to highlight things you haven’t been able to touch on.
What Do You Know About This Company/organization
A quick search in the About page of the company/organization you are applying for should be enough, right? Well, yes and no.
Think of this as an open-ended question. Theres no real wrong answer here, other than:
I dont know anything about this organization. In fact, how did I end up here? Can you guys call me a cab real quick?
However, the more you actually know about the company, the better your chances of getting hired.
Imagine 2 equally competent candidates:
Which one would you pick? Exactly, the second one!
So, with this job interview question, you want to convince the recruiter that youre the candidate #2.
Now, how do you do that? Well, a rule of thumb here is to do some Googling before the interview and learn the following about the company:
- What does their product or service do?
- What impact does the product / service have?
- Whats the company culture like?
- What are the latest news about the company? How are they performing?
- …And pretty much whatever other type of info you can dig up.
- Sample Answer 1:
I hadnt heard about you until recently, actually. I found out about through your job ad on RandomJobBoard.
- Sample Answer 2: