Tough Interview Questions

The interview process can be nerve-wracking and difficult. Interviewers' questions are designed to test you and measure your ability to do the job you're applying for. They are also used to evaluate your personality and make certain that you are the right fit for the company culture and the person that can best handle the demands of the job. With the right preparation, you can turn every tough question into an opportunity to sell your talents and convince the interviewer that you are the perfect fit for the job and the company.

How can you memorize answers to interviewers' questions and not sound scripted? Memorizing answers is hardly your goal here. It is more important that you have organized your personal profile and you are prepared to cite your accomplishments, and give examples of the ways in which your unique abilities can work to the company's advantage.

Here are some great suggestions that will help you successfully handle tricky interview questions.

  • Research the company and position for which you're interviewing, and get inside information if you can. Find out as much as you can about the company-what they do, who their competitors are, what their values and goals are, and what they look for in their employees. If you have a personal contact at the company or a Camden Vale recruiter working with you, get the scoop! You shouldn't rely on them for your research of the company, but they can help you prepare for the interview process. They may even know the interviewer, and his or her personal style of interviewing.
  • Know yourself! You have already organized your accomplishments and abilities in your resume. You have also researched the company and its needs and goals. You know what they want, and you know what you have-so make those two things the same! Write down examples of the ways in which your experience will uniquely work to accomplish their goals. Describe the values and goals that you share with the company. Simply prepare to present yourself as the embodiment of what they seek in an employee!
  • Be Confident! You are wonderfully prepared for this interview. Think carefully about the questions, and answer them confidently, using concrete examples of how your abilities have worked to the benefit of former employers and team members. If you don't have an immediate answer to the interviewer's question, take a minute to think. Some questions will not have an instant answer, and it is better to pause and construct a great answer than it is to simply start talking with no idea of what you are saying.
  • Consider your audience. When you are preparing to answer questions, you have to consider the responsibilities of the position, the company culture, and the industry standards. If your position requires that you take on a great deal of independent tasks, you probably shouldn't tell your interviewer that your favorite thing about your current job is the team-oriented work. Even the greatest of answers can be damaging when used in the wrong situation, so be careful.
  • Be proud of your accomplishments, but don't brag. You must take advantage of the opportunities you are given to prove your abilities by talking in detail about your past accomplishments and experience, but beware of being too self-congratulatory. You will give the impression that you are unmanageable, self-serving, and all too willing to sacrifice the team for personal achievement.
  • Be honest. Lying or embellishing your experience is a quick way to ruin your credibility and eliminate yourself from the candidate pool. Remember, interview questions are designed to find the inconsistencies in your story. It is just as important, though, to talk about yourself and your experiences in a positive light. You will be asked to talk about your weaknesses, but you must do so in the most positive way possible. Emphasize the lesson in your mistake, and how that has saved you from making the same or bigger mistakes. The interviewer has no question as to whether or not you have had failures, but rather how you have dealt with them.
  • Think before you speak. How you choose to word things has all the effect in the world on the interviewer's impression of you. If you place blame on others, or continually complain about your last work environment, you are creating the impression that you are disagreeable and a potential trouble maker that finds a reason to complain about any work environment, including theirs. You may be tempted to tell the interviewer that you are leaving your current job because your boss is an insufferable tyrant. Although you may believe that to be a most truthful declaration, what impression is it leaving with the interviewer? It would be equally as truthful to say that you are looking for a position in which you will be given more responsibility. You have not only shielded yourself from negativity, but you have reiterated your desire for challenge. That says great things about you, doesn't it?
  • Highlight the similarities between you and the company. All companies look for employees that have the values that are consistent with company goals and priorities. They also look for people that will thrive in their environment and fit into the company culture. Answer questions in a way that emphasizes the similarities between you and the company. Make it known that you share values such as efficiency, honesty, dependability, enthusiasm.
  • Ask good questions. Showing interest in the company is an essential part of the interview. Take this opportunity to show that you've done your homework; prepare 10-15 good questions to ask the interviewer. If you are a super candidate, and you feel comfortable talking about the industry, you should ask a question about recent news in the industry or company. You should also jot down questions throughout the interview to ask at an appropriate time. This shows that you have great listening skills and that you have really prepared yourself for the interview. You will also gain information about the company and the position that will allow you to better sell yourself and your skills. Some good basic questions to ask include:
  • What would be my first project in this position? What role would I play?
  • Describe a typical day?
  • Who will I report to?
  • Will I be working on teams or mostly on my own?
  • What will my major responsibilities be?
  • What do you like best about this company? Why?
  • What are the major challenges of this position?
  • What kind of training will I receive?
  • What are the current goals and objectives of this department?
  • With whom would I be working most closely?
  • Practice answering the questions you fear most. A great way to eliminate nervousness from the interview situation is by practicing and developing answers for the questions you dread answering. If you are prepared for the worst, what is there to be nervous about? We have provided some questions below, give them a try!
  • Winning Responses to 10 Tough Interview Questions

    Here are some commonly asked, somewhat sticky questions, and suggestions for how to handle them gracefully. The more you practice and prepare yourself to answer the tough questions, the more successful you will be at answering them, so spend some time answering these for yourself.

    • What is your greatest weakness? None of us likes to admit weakness, but answering this question by stating that you don't have weaknesses will put you on a fast track to interview's end. Spouting off a laundry list of professional shortcomings is hardly the answer either. The key to answering this question successfully is that you choose a weakness that is not job related, and more importantly, is not a trait that is central to the job. Your best bet is to talk about a weakness that is really a strength in disguise: "I love what I do, and I work hard to ensure that each of my projects is completed to the very best of my ability. I find it discouraging when people on my team don't make an effort to contribute to their full potential." What employer doesn't want to hear that?
    • Tell me about the worst boss you ever had. What is the interviewer trying to accomplish with this line of questioning? Questions of a negative nature, phrased with words such as worst and dislike, are measuring your tolerance level, and testing your ability to be diplomatic and tactful. They are measuring the degree to which you make an effort to turn a negative into a positive, and how effectively you do so. In answering this question, it is important that you stay away from negativity; if you have a history of nothing but glorious relationships with your bosses, praise them for all they have taught you. If you can't do that then you should concentrate on the ways in which your boss' shortcomings taught you lessons or enriched your experience at the job. Maybe your boss' lack of involvement in your project work resulted in you receiving a great deal of experience and independence. Consider your audience very carefully when answering a question like this-you could be describing the management style of the person across the desk. Better to stay positive, isn't it?
    • What is your dream job? That doesn't sound like such a hard question-and it's not, really-but it is one of those that could be mistaken for an innocent question, asked out of genuine interest in your hopes and dreams. Before you confess your desire to become a shepherd, remember that there is no such thing as an innocent question in an interview; every question is asked in an effort to learn a little bit more about you, how interested you are in the position, and how well-suited you are for the job. Best answer to this question? Describe the job you are interviewing for!
    • Rate yourself on a scale of one to ten. Yikes, who wants to answer this one? If you rate yourself a 6, why do they want to hire you? On the other hand, if you think you're a 10, you have marked yourself as unmanageable and miserably egotistical. Your safest middle ground lies between 8 and 9. This says-and you should explain- that you are confident, capable, and hard-working, but you know there is always room for improvement.
    • Tell me about yourself. This is a big question, and it is not one that you should attempt to answer off the top of your head. This could go in a number of directions, but the interviewer at a software company wasn't looking to hear about your starring role in your high school's production of "Oliver". You should compose a brief biography-2 minutes in length is reasonable-consisting of a short personal background, and highlighting your most important accomplishments, strongest skills and personal traits, and your professional goals. The bio, of course, should be appropriate to the company and industry to which you are applying.
    • Describe your best friend. In what ways are you different from one another? The assumption here is that you and your best friend probably have a great deal in common, and in describing your friend, you are describing yourself, and possibly uncovering flaws in your own personality. For the purpose of this interview, your best friend is the embodiment of the ideal employee, whose strengths are the traits that you have been highlighting throughout the interview. If you are describing your friend's flaw, you should be doing so only to talk about the ways in which you two are different.
    • Where do you see yourself five years from now? Are your goals for progression consistent with what the position, or even the company can offer? Are your desires realistic and compatible with the company's objectives? You want to paint the picture of someone who always strives for excellence and progress, but whose current focus is learning and excelling at this job. It is good to let the interviewer know that you have aspirations of taking on more responsibility, but you don't want to give the impression that you are expecting to go straight to the top.
    • Tell me about your greatest error in judgment. You can use this opportunity to show how your experiences have made you a model employee, or to raise questions in the interviewer's mind about your ability to do the job. The story you choose to tell in response to this question should be one that is unrelated to work. It should also be something that happened in the distant past, so you can talk about the ways in which you have grown and learned from this mistake. If you choose something recent and/or work related, you are highlighting a weakness that could very well mark an incompetence that they will have to worry about.
    • How did you get the day off of work today? If you are still employed and you are interviewing during work hours, this question could very well arise. It may seem like details, really just an icebreaker question, but you are establishing your integrity. You will be declaring yourself a liar and dashing your chances of getting the job by answering that you called in sick or told your boss that you had a doctor's appointment. The only answer to this question is that you are interviewing on your own time, either utilizing a vacation day or your lunch hour.