I always get that deer-in-the-headlights feeling whenever a friend of mine asks me questions like, “So what are you doing next Tuesday?” Experience has taught me that she’s usually asking because she needs something–not because she wants to invite us over for dinner!
The prospect of an interview can create that same dreaded feeling. But if you know what an employer is looking for, your nerves can take a rest! Lucky for you, CollegeGrad.com has put together a list of the ten toughest interview questions and the answer key. Here’s a sample, using the classic question, What is your greatest weakness?
Most career books tell you to select a strength and present it as a weakness. Such as: “I work too much. I just work and work and work.” Wrong. First of all, using a strength and presenting it as a weakness is deceiving. Second, it misses the point of the question. You should select a weakness that you have been actively working to overcome. For example: “I have had trouble in the past with planning and prioritization. However, I’m now taking steps to correct this. I just started using a pocket planner…” then show them your planner and how you are using it. Talk about a true weakness and show what you are doing to overcome it.
If you’ve ever wondered how to answer, “Tell me about yourself,” CollegeGrad cautions not to start with the day you were born! Rather, realize that the hiring manager is trying to get a quick read on who you are and whether you’re the best candidate for the position. What have you done to prepare yourself for this job? Can you give an example? Pointing back to examples of your background and experience are the best way to show how you’re a good fit for the job.
Another mind-freezing question can be, “Why should I hire you?” It’s okay to say that you’re the best person for the job–but then be prepared to express why you are different from the other candidates they’ve already interviewed. Are you more passionate, detail-minded, or a dedicated team player?
If you’re asked to talk about your long-range objective, talk about your achievable objectives and give examples of how you’re working toward reaching your goals. If you’re asked whether you’ve ever had a conflict with your boss, focus your answer on how you worked to resolve the conflict and continue to work collaboratively. If you’re asked if you’re a team player, give behavioral examples of how you’ve taken opportunities at work, in school, and with friends to develop your skills as a team player.
Addressing this list of questions before your interview will help you think through what the right answers are for you. To become more confident and better prepared for your next interview, read all ten questions and suggested answers.
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