Daily Archives: September 17, 2010

7 Tricky Job Interview Questions and Ways to Respond

It’s normal to feel a bit nervous about an interview. You are meeting someone you don’t know well and you have a very short period of time to make a standout first impression. And, then they stump you with questions you’re not sure you know how to respond to. Many people misinterpret questions asked by employers, so they either say something they shouldn’t or they don’t know the appropriate way to respond. Once you know what to expect, you will likely perform better. To help you, here are some frequently asked questions and how you can answer them correctly.

What are your strengths? This question gives you the opportunity to talk about your attributes. This is a good time to showcase how your skills correlate to the key job description. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a bank teller, telling the employer that you’re excellent at baking bread is probably not the best answer to give considering it’s not the skill they’re looking for. Always tie in your strengths and be sure you explain how your skills and strengths correlate to the job.

What are your weaknesses? This is a common question, but can be very tricky. Be careful how you phrase your answer. Employers know that you have weaknesses – we all do. So, don’t tell them that you don’t have any weaknesses. First, be straightforward and honest about your weaknesses, but be sure to positively phrase your weaknesses as challenges you have overcome or are currently working to overcome. For example, instead of saying, “My weakness is that I’m highly disorganized and I have trouble with task management.” You say something more like, “Being organized wasn’t always my strongest point but I have taken time to implement and incorporate a daily and weekly time management system that has allowed me to better handle more projects and consistently complete them on time.”

The key to answering this question is to show the employer that you’re taking steps to better yourself and are constantly working on turning your weaknesses into strengths.

Why are you seeking new employment? Be careful of how you answer this question. The last thing you want to do is bash a former employer. Telling an interviewer about the bad bosses you have had and how miserable they made your life will not get you anywhere in an interview. Instead, say something like, “I learned a lot from my previous job, but I am ready for new opportunities and to continue growing my skill set.”

Tell us about your work gap: If you have a work gap, an employer may be curious to know why and may ask what you did during that period. This is a great time to talk about opportunities where you’ve worked on growing your skills or discovering new talents. This shows the employer that even though you were out of a job, you still took the time to keep your skills current.

If you’re currently unemployed and have a work gap, seek out opportunities to use your skills in volunteer organizations. This still allows you to do work that interests you that you could also put in a portfolio.

What is a difficult situation you’ve faced in the past and how have you handled it? This interview question will help an interviewer discover how you handled and overcame certain situations in the past. For this question, don’t go into extreme detail about the situation, but tell how you implemented solutions to solve the problem. Give concrete examples. Before your interview, refresh your memory on how you have tackled difficult situations.

What are your salary requirements? It is best not to bring up salary negotiations in the first interview unless you interviewer mentions it first. Be sure to do your homework prior to the interview to know a salary range for the job. To help with your research, check out salary.com. But remember, don’t discuss salary until the employer mentions it.

Why should we hire you? Talk about your skills and how you can be an asset to the company. Remember to tie your strengths into the job description. Also talk about how your skills can benefit the company. Impress them with what you can do for them. Give examples and highlight why your skills qualify or make you the best candidate for the job.

At first glance, some questions may seem difficult for you to answer, but they don’t have to be that way. Use the above tips to learn how you can effectively answer some frequently asked interview questions and shine during your next interview.