New year, new job: Four keys to answering those tricky interview questions

Tips for Interviewing

Interviews are like snowflakes. Each is unique in it’s own way. Some interviews may be over the phone. Others may be in person and out-of-state. Some are on a whim while others are planned months in advance. Some are with an employer you already know from a previous position and some are in a room full of strangers. No matter the case, interviews can be more of a challenge than the actual job you’ve applied for but the key to landing the position is being able to handle those tricky interview questions like a pro. Here’s how:

When in doubt, press pause. When we’re in doubt of ourselves or not so sure we have the right answer to an interview question, we have a tendency to overcompensate by rambling on and on. Rather than digging yourself deeper into a hole, try this: breathe. Take a moment to collect your thoughts. Pausing doesn’t indicate stupidity. It illustrates intelligence. Your potential employer doesn’t want to hire someone who jumps by the seat of his or her pants just to complete a task (in this case, answer a question). They want to see someone who is prompt but precise. Precision is key and it’s ok to take a few seconds to think about your answer. When it comes to the juicy questions, press pause.

Don’t be fooled. Not all employers use this tactic, but some believe in real trick questions. Remember that some questions may be asked just to analyze your critical thinking skills. It’s not always the correct answer that the interviewer is looking for. So don’t hesitate to follow up the question with your own questions to come up with your best answer. Think before you react.

Be prepared. Don’t act like you aren’t sure what hit you when it comes to those hard-to-answer questions. The reality is that many employers use the same questions to see what their candidates are made of and how they view themselves. Familiarize yourself with the typical questions and think about your answers prior to interviewing. Take a look at our 5 interview questions every employer should ask & every applicant should be prepared for and search google for others. It wouldn’t hurt to role play at home. Have your wife, husband, roommate or friend play the interviewer while you play yourself and see what they have to say about your answers. Try really tough questions like:

  • Tell me about your worst boss.
  • Why do you want to leave your current position?
  • What is your greatest weakness?

Turn the negative to positive. Many of the questions you’re asked (like those aforementioned) may ask you about negative situations. The key to answering these tough questions is to answer them in the reverse. Sure, tell the truth about your worst boss or your greatest weakness but then flip that into how you’ve overcome that greatest weakness or how you were able to positively work with a boss that wasn’t doing the best job. Never end your part of the conversation in the negative. End on a high (and positive) note.

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