Difficult interview questions and answers can vary for each applicable, but there are three questions that applicants seem to struggle with more than the rest.
I often say that you should not attempt to memorize an interview answer word-for-word , but that does not mean that you are not willing to answer.
I recommend you use the examples I give as food for thought.
"Tell me about yourself."
This question (or request) comes up at the start of nearly every interview. Do not be taken off guard if it takes a different form like, "Why are we meeting today?"
Because of how broad and open-ended this request looks, applicants typically seem to nervously stumble through a miniature autobiography. All the interviewer is really asking you is, "Why do you feel you are a good fit for this job?" The best answer to this question is a short, concise outline of:
- Your relevant work experience.
- Your education or credentials.
- A positive statement of expectation.
A good answer might sound like:
"I graduated from xx in 2006 with a degree in xx. I have spent the past five years working with xx in a xx position, which has allowed me to further develop my capacity and understanding of xx. skills and experience I have acquired make me the right fit for your company. I am excited to learn more! "
It's short. It's simple. And it's effective.
"Name one of your weaknesses."
Most applicants think they are clever when they respond with:
- I am a perfectionist.
- I work too hard.
- I care too much.
But these are in fact all terrible answers. They are the same general answers most applicants give. Therefore, you have:
- Not actually answered the question.
- Failed to be accountable for your areas of improvement.
- Indicated that you have something to hide.
I am not suggesting that you give a weakness like, "I am frequently late and I am a terrible fit for this company." But what I am telling you is that you need to give a real weakness that demonstrates accountability and focused improvement. A good example might sound like:
I have difficulty creating charts and graphs using Excel. I have got much faster at it and I do not expect it will be a problem. "
"What are your salary expectations?"
- This can be a challenging question.
- If you state a figure too high, you may disqualify yourself.
- If you state a figure too low, you may create the impression you are less valuable or risk getting paid less.
The key to answering this question is to be realistic and honest. Use your past experience to indicate a range, and test the waters to see if you're in the right ballpark:
"My last position paid me a salary of $ 35,000 plus incentives and bonuses. Last year, I made $ 48,000 in total. Does a range of $ 45,000 to $ 50,000 sound realistic to you?"
Or, if you are moving to a position of greater responsibility , you may wish to phrase it like this:
"My last position paid me a total annual of $ 48,000. Since I am applying for a more senior position, I am expecting to have an awareness potential greater than $ 50,000."
This is an honest answer – I doubt you would want to take a position of greater liability for less money. At the same time, it creates an entire range of greater than $ 50,000 rather than stating an exact figure.
The key to answering this question is to do two things:
- Use a relative pay rate (such as your last job) as justification for your expectations.
- Provide a range, not an exact dollar figure.
It's easy when you are nervous in an interview to feel overwhelmed by difficult questions. But when you prepare a couple of thoughts in advance, it is much easier to answer.
I can almost guarantee you that the three questions above will be asked. These three questions are a great indicator to the interviewer if you are the right fit. Prepare in advance, take a deep breath before answering, and as always – be honest!