Here are 13 questions and answers to help you prepare for difficult interviews. You can either scroll down the entire page or click on the questions below that interest you.

  • Personal Weaknesses

    When interviewing with a company, you will often be asked not only about your strengths, but also about your weaknesses. If you can bench press 250 pounds, have no fear. However, if this is a struggle for you, pay attention to this interviewing tip.

    Here is an example of this type of interview question and a sample answer:

    "Looking at your own resume, what do you think your weaknesses are regarding this job?"

    Answer: "I believe that my skills and abilities are a good fit for this position. Do you have any specific concerns?"

    Advice: Turn the question around and get me to disclose what I believe are your weaknesses. Then use the opportunity to change my mind. Give specific proof.

  • Going the Extra Mile

    When interviewing with companies, you will often be asked questions that seem straightforward to answer. However, an answer of yes or no should never be adequate. Always backup any statements you make with specific examples. This validates what you are trying to convey.

    Here is an example of this type of interview question and sample answer:

    "Would your current boss describe you as the type of person who goes that extra mile?"

    Answer: "Absolutely. In fact, on my annual evaluations, she writes that I am the most dependable and flexible person on her staff. I think this is mostly because of my ability to juggle and prioritize."

    Advice: Share an example that demonstrates your dependability or willingness to tackle a tough project. If you describe "long hours of work," make sure that you prove the hours were productive, and not the result of poor time management.

  • Standing Out from the Crowd

    Often in an interview, you will be asked to separate yourself from other candidates who may be more qualified or may be less of a risk-factor.

    Here is an example of this type of interview question and a sample answer:

    "What new skills or ideas do you bring to the job that our internal candidates don't offer?"

    Answer: "Because I've worked with the oldest player in this industry, I can help you avoid some of the mistakes we made in our established markets."

    Advice: This question addresses your motivation in adding "true value" to the job. Evaluate the job carefully, considering current limitations or weaknesses in the department and your unique abilities. Your ability here to prove "I offer what you need and then some" could land you the job.

  • Being Specific

    Sometimes in interviews, you will be asked questions that lend themselves to be answered vaguely or with lengthy explanations. Take this opportunity to direct your answer in a way that connects you with the position and company, and be succinct and support your answer with appropriate specific examples.

    Here is an example of this type of interview question and a sample answer:

    "Why did you choose this particular career path?"

    Answer: "I chose advertising because I have always been a strong communicator with a good eye for design. I have a particular interest in creating dynamic eye-catching pieces that support a new product being introduced to the market. I also like the fast-paced high-energy environment that seems to be commonplace in the advertising industry."

    Advice: You need to convince the interviewer that their industry and your career goals are in sync. Do you have a realistic view of what it is like to work in their industry? What aspects of their industry are particularly attractive to you? Give specific examples that the interviewer can relate to and convince him or her that this career path makes perfect sense for you.

  • Tough Questions About Your Past

    You may have something from your past or on your resume that could present a sticky situation in an interview. Answer inquiries about your situation cautiously and try to come up with a creative way to turn a potentially negative experience into a positive response.

    Here is an example of this type of interview question and a sample answer:

    "Why didn't you finish your studies?"

    Answer: "I decided to leave school because I was working 30 hours a week waiting tables to support myself. I felt that I did not have enough time to devote to my schoolwork. When I do anything, I always give 150%."

    Advice: The interviewer is trying to find out if there is a major issue that could interfere with your work. Do you tend to complete things? Did you flunk out? Give a good reason why you did not finish or explain why any issues related to it are in the past.

  • Great Expectations

    Let's say that you already have a job, but are looking for something that is more satisfying to you intellectually and in regards to your acquired skills. Employers want employees to be satisfied at the end of the day to feel like they have accomplished something when the 5 o'clock whistle blows. Now is the time in the interview to let them know what would make your career more challenging, and what direction you want your career to go. Let's face it, if a company can't offer that challenge, you should continue your search for something that will.

    Here is an example of this type of interview question and a sample answer: "What do you really want out of your next job?"

    Answer: "I'm really interested in taking over a territory where we aren't very well positioned. I also want a very aggressive commission structure if I am able to turn around that problem territory."

    Advice: Interpret one or two items from your current work experience that explain why you are talking to the interviewer. Focus on limitations in growth or learning from your current job. Make sure you point out why you feel the job at hand provides the additional responsibilities you are seeking.

  • What Can You Contribute?

    Before an employer makes the decision to hire you, he/she will not only want to know your past performance history, but what other special contributions they can expect from you in the future.

    Here is an example of this type of interview question and a sample answer: "Tell me about a special contribution you have made to your employer."

    Answer: "In my last job, I ran the United Way campaign for three consecutive years. I believe it is an important cause, and I know it is difficult for the company to find volunteers."

    Advice: Tell them about your individual initiative. Offer proof using real examples that you deliver more than your employer expects from someone in your job. Don't give long descriptions of situations. Focus your answer on the actions you took and the positive results you obtained.

  • Helping the Company

    When you are looking for a job, an employer will want to know what you can do to help or improve their company. Now is the time to tell them of your proven skills and knowledge that you gained at some of your other previous jobs. If your past jobs ever involved extortion, leave that out. It could be helpful when you need a promotion.

    Here is an example of this type of interview question and a sample answer: "Give me an example of how you can help my company."

    Answer: "In my previous career my biggest contribution was my ability to accurately measure customer satisfaction and to continually feed this information back to our design and production departments. I developed special questionnaires, used focus groups and personally spent 10% of my time talking to customers. This attention to customer satisfaction is relevant in your industry as well. I look forward to adopting my quality program to a new type of product."

    Advice: Use an example of a significant contribution you made in your past job that impacted the bottom line. Show how this ability transfers across industries from one functional area to another.

  • Salary Expectations

    Everyone wants to make a lot of money when getting the job they want. Employers will ask how much money you want. Saying that you might work for peanuts will get you the job, but I hope you love peanuts. Here is an example of this type of interview question and a sample answer:"Tell me about your salary expectations."

    Answer: "Current salary information published by our national association indicates a range of $30,000 to $40,000 a year. While I'm not certain how your salaries compare to the national norms for this industry, my feeling is that my value would certainly be in the upper half of this national range."

    Advice: Turn the question around. Ask the interviewer first to discuss the company and the approximate pay range for the position. Then answer in general terms in line with where your qualifications fall in relation to the job requirements. Also, mention the market value for yourself, again in general terms.

  • "In Five Years..."

    Employers will want to know you have drive and a sense of what your future holds for you. They will want to hire someone with a sense of purpose. Employers may ask you to describe what you see yourself doing in the years to come, whether you will be at one company or another. Telling them you see yourself doing their job may not be the best way to get hired. Here is an example of this type of interview question and a sample answer: "Where do you want to be in five years?"

    Answer: "In five years, I would like to have progressed to the point where I have bottom-line responsibility and the chance to lead a manufacturing operations unit."

    Advice: Avoid the urge to describe job titles; this makes you seem unbending and unrealistic, since you do not know or control the system of promotion. Describe new experiences or responsibilities you'd like to add in the future that build on the current job you are applying for.

  • Showing Your Determination

    There is Good Determination and then there is Bad Determination. Good Determination is when you see a project through from the beginning to the end, no matter what obstacles you had to overcome and the result is a positive one for the company--like saving the company millions of dollars. Bad Determination is when you are blinded by your goal, the results to which can be detrimental--like stealing millions of dollars from your company.

    Here is an example of this type of interview question and a sample answer: "Give me an example of your determination."

    Answer: "I led an effort to change our production system over to dedicated lines. The biggest problem was convincing the factory workers that this made sense. I persuaded management to increase the profit-sharing account using some of that savings, which got the employees on my side."

    Advice: Describe your professional character, especially diligence. Describe a time you persevered to accomplish a goal. Give proof that you persevere to see important projects through, and to achieve important results. Demonstrate how you gather resources, how you predict obstacles, and how you manage stress.

  • Previous Bosses

    Often times in an interview, questions will be asked trying to gain some insight about your past working relationships with co-workers or employers. Telling them that the judge won't allow you to speak about the murder case is generally a bad career move.

    Here is an example of this type of interview question and a sample answer: "Tell me about your relationship with your previous bosses."

    Answer: "My bosses would tell you that I've often been a sounding board for them. With all of my bosses, I developed a close rapport."

    Advice: The interviewer is looking for a fit between the two of you. As you describe each previous boss, the interviewer will be making mental comparisons between your old bosses and themselves. You must be honest without being overly negative. Emphasize the type of boss you work well with.

  • Off-the-Wall Questions

    Some companies will ask you "stress" interview questions, (as if you are not stressed enough) to determine how you draw conclusions; how you react in a stressful situation; or just to annoy you.

    Here's an example:

    "Why are manhole covers round?"

    Answer: Manhole covers are round because sewer pipes are round. Sewer pipes are round because round pipes are much stronger than any other shape. Pipes placed underground must endure a tremendous amount of stress from earthquakes to frost. (They also can be moved by one person and won't fall into the hole on top of a repair person!)

    Advice: Don't mention that this topic was not the thesis statement of your paper and you have better things to think about. The interviewer is trying to see if you can think and work under stress and wants to see you sweat a little--how quickly will you come up with an answer?





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