5 Tough Interview Questions and How to Answer Them Creatively
Congratulations! You made it to the interview! However, be forewarned and forearmed, for the moment you walk in the door, a lineup of tricky interview questions awaits. To help you navigate through these hurdles, we’ve compiled a list of 5 tough questions and creative ways to answer them.
1. How would you describe yourself?
If we had to pick one question to thoroughly prepare for, this would be the one. This is the ice breaker, and it’s completely up to you set the tone for the rest of the interview. What kind of picture do you want to paint in the clean canvas mind of the recruiter? To answer such a substantial question, you need to come prepared with a clear game plan in your head. Your response should aim to highlight one or two of your strengths and support them with accomplishments and success stories. On a piece of paper, brainstorm a list of your strongest skills that support your candidacy prior to the interview. Choose 2 or 3 that stand out in particular, and think of a success story for each from your past experiences. The stories and highlights that you want to communicate should flow effortlessly and naturally.
Take the time to tell your interviewer all about your favourite hockey team, cooking books, or 70s rock band (unless you’re applying to be a hockey coach, cook, or music producer). This is an interview, not a date.
2. Are you a team player, or do you prefer to work alone?
This is a difficult one to navigate, as you should never imply that you are not a team player. The key here is to show that you are a team player, not a social butterfly. If the position you’re applying for requires a lot of solo work and not a lot of team interaction, show that you do some of your best work when you’re left to concentrate on work on your own. However, if the situation asks for interaction with team members, you are equally as effective.
Answer straight away with one or the other. You don’t want to give the impression that you are on any extreme end of the spectrum. Don’t label yourself as “that guy who gets carried by the team” or “that girl who hates group projects” straight off the bat.
3. What are your salary requirements?
It seems that everyone is scared of being caught off-guard with this question. One good way to answer this question would be:
“I’m sure when the time comes and I know more about the details of this position and how it fits into the bigger picture, we can come to a mutually agreeable figure.”
If the interviewer presses you for a specific number, you have to make sure that you have researched your position’s salary range ahead of the interview. Offer them this range when they ask, and justify where you belong on that range based on your experience, future potential, and other qualifications.
State any solid figure up front — chances are it will either be too high or too low, both of which can be bad for you. You don’t want to come off as arrogant, but you don’t want to undermine your skills and qualifications either.
4. What’s your biggest weakness?
This is a question that can make or break the entire interview. The interviewer uses this question to expose flaws in certain candidates, making the screening process much easier for them. What you need is to know your weaknesses well, and keep them work related. The key is to be honest, and veer away from any flaw that is essential for your performance in the job you are interviewing for. The most important thing is to let the interviewer know how you are working to conquer your weakness. This move will keep the ball in your court and give you the power to steer the conversation in a positive direction.
Pull an Achille’s heel and make yourself an easy target for rejection. You are not confessing your sins — you are trying to get a job offer. On the other hand, saying that you’re “a perfectionist” or that you “work too hard” can also impair your credibility. Hiring managers know that you’re a human being who makes mistakes — they’re more interested in what you’ve done about it and how that impacts your future.
5. Do you have any questions for me?
While it’s easy to get caught up in the challenge of impressing the hiring manager, it’s also important that you remember that an interview is a two-way street. You are trying to determine if this position is a right fit for you. With this in mind, arm yourself with the following list of questions:
- What are some particular skills or attributes that you would look for in a candidate for this position?
The interviewer’s answers here will tell you how much your traits are valued. With this information, you can make a powerful close by underlining these traits at the end of the interview.
- Please tell me more about the people that I’ll be working with closely.
The answer will be a huge indicator of how skilled the people you’ll be working with are at their jobs, and how much you’re likely to learn from them. The hiring manager’s level of enthusiasm can also hint at the company’s culture, an important factor to consider.
- Could you describe a typical day in this position?
This will put both you and the interviewer in the shoes of your potential job. This is a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the day-to-day affairs, and allow the hiring manager to really see you as a part of the team. This is also a good question to test the waters and to reassess your interest in the role.
Say “no”. Never, I repeat, never say no. How can you make what could be one of the most important decisions in your life — working at this company, at this job — without asking questions? Even if you think you’re sold on the position, you must speak up. If you don’t, the interviewer will assume you are uninterested, and that can be the kiss of death for you as an applicant. With that being said, do not ask questions related to vacation days, sick pay or work benefits. You’ll seem like someone who is looking for a chance to get out of the job before you even get in.
Do you have an interview question that we didn’t address here? Contact us and we’ll guide you through it!