Smart Answers to Tricky Job Interview Questions

No matter how carefully you prepare, there’s always one job interview question that seems to come out of the blue.  Even if you think you’re ready for it, somehow you find yourself rambling on about a topic that doesn’t even seem related to the question.  Now what?

It pays to be prepared – especially for the “tough” questions.  Here are some tricky job interview questions and how to answer them:

“Tell us about a time you failed.”

This question is “what is your greatest weakness?” in disguise.  It’s popular with hiring managers because instead of giving you the chance to make something up, it asks about a time you actually failed – and what you did about it.

Focus on how you got out of your predicament, not how you got in.  In fact, limit the failure itself to one sentence: “About six months ago, I completely blew a deadline with one of our major clients.”  Don’t explain, don’t make excuses, and don’t deflect blame.  Jump right into how you fixed it: “I knew this project was critical, so I stayed late for the next three nights.  To convince my co-workers to help me, I offered to take on a project they had been worrying about, which really helped me improve my auditing skills.”

“If you could change one thing about your current boss/co-workers, what would it be?”

This question invites you to start slinging blame – but don’t take the bait.  Hiring managers ask it because they want to know what personality traits or work approaches in others help you do your best work.

Answer this question by focusing on how the change would help you perform better.  Instead of “I wish my boss wouldn’t wait until the last minute to assign me to a project; why is she so disrespectful?” say “I would like my boss to assign me to a project at least a day before I need to get to work on it.  That way, I can make sure I understand the requirements and get my questions answered before I begin.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

This isn’t a question, and you may not hear these words.  But it’s easy to imagine the hiring manager thinking them as you discover yourself on a rambling tangent.

If this happens, stop yourself.  Say “I’m sorry.  Allow me to start over.”  Then, focus on answering the question that was asked.  This “save” can help you redirect the interview even if you make a mistake – demonstrating your ability to stay calm and get back on track, as well as allowing you to give your best answers.

At THE RIGHT STAFF, LLC, our experienced recruiters can help you prepare for even the toughest interview questions – so you can find a job with a company you love.  Contact us today to learn more about our recruiting services in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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