Career success

Answering Most Difficult Interview Questions

Job interview tips | Job interview questions

This is a summary of 'Parting Company: How to Survive the Loss of a Job and Find Another Successfully; by William J. Morin and James C. Cabrera.


1. Tell me about yourself.

In a minute or two, cover four topics: early years, education, work history, and recent career experience. Emphasize this last subject.


2. What do you know about our organization?

Without coming off as a know-it-all braggart, discuss products or services, revenues, reputation, image, goals, problems, management style, people, history and philosophy.


3. Why do you want to work for us?

Say that your research has shown that the company is doing things you would like to be involved with, and that it's doing them in ways that greatly interest you – give specific example.


4. What can you do for us that someone else can't?

Talk about your record of getting things done, and mention specifics from your resume or list of career accomplishments.


5. What do you find most attractive about this position? What seems least attractive about it?

List three or four attractive factors of the job, and mention a single, minor, unattractive item.


6. Why should we hire you?

Create your answer by thinking in terms of your ability, your experience, and your energy. (See question 4.)


7. What do you look for in a job?

Keep your answer oriented to opportunities at this organization.


8. Please give me your definition of [the position for which you are being interviewed].

Keep your answer brief and task oriented - detail responsibilities of the said positions. Get more information from the interviewer before your answer.


9. How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?

Be realistic. Say that, first you would like to know the organization and its needs well enough to make a major contribution.


10. How long would you stay with us?

Say that you are interested in a career with the organization, but admit that you would have to continue to feel challenged to remain with any organization.


11. Your resume suggests that you may be over-qualified or too experienced for this position. What's Your opinion?

Emphasize your interest in establishing a long-term association with the organization, and say that you assume that if you perform well in his job, new opportunities will open up for you.


12. What is your management style?

Think how your management style will complement the company's style. Possible management styles include: participatory style (an open-door method of managing in which you get things done by motivating people and delegating responsibility), task oriented (I'll enjoy problem-solving identifying what's wrong, choosing a solution and implementing it'), results-oriented ('Every management decision I make is determined by how it will affect the bottom line'), or even paternalistic ('I'm committed to taking care of my subordinates and pointing them in the right direction').


13. Are you a good manager? Can you give me some examples? Do you feel that you have top managerial potential?

Keep your answer achievement and ask-oriented. Rely on examples from your career to buttress your argument. Stress your experience and your energy.


14. What do you look for when You hire people?

Think in terms of skills. initiative, and the adaptability to be able to work comfortably and effectively with others. Mention that you like to hire people who appear capable of moving up in the organization.


15. Have you ever had to fire people? What were the reasons, and how did you handle the situation?

Admit that the situation was not easy, but say that it worked out well, both for the company and, you think, for the individual. Show that, like anyone else, you don't enjoy unpleasant tasks but that you can resolve them efficiently and -in the case of firing someone- humanely.


16. What do you think is the most difficult thing about being a manager or executive?

Mention planning, execution, and cost-control. The most difficult task is to motivate and manage employees to get something planned and completed on time and within the budget.


17. What important trends do you see in our industry?

Be prepared with two or three trends that illustrate how well you understand your industry and the direction in which it is heading- technological challenges or opportunities, economic conditions, or even regulatory demands.


18. Why are you leaving (did you leave) your present (last) job?

Be brief, to the point, and as honest as you can without hurting yourself. Do not mention personality conflicts.


The interviewer may spend some time probing you on this issue, particularly if it is clear that you were terminated. The 'We agreed to disagree' approach may be useful.


19. How do you feel about leaving all your benefits to find a new job?

Mention that you are concerned, naturally, but not panicked. You are willing to accept some risk to find the right job for yourself. Don't suggest that security might interest you more than getting the job done successfully.


20. In your current (last) position, what features do (did) you like the most? The least?

Be careful and be positive. Describe more features that you liked than disliked. Don't cite personality problems. If you make your last job sound terrible, an interviewer may wonder why you remained there until now.


21. What do you think of your boss?

Be as positive as you can.


22. Why aren't you earning more at your age?

Say that this is one reason that you are conducting this job search. Don't be defensive.


23. What do you feel this position should pay?

Defer tying yourself to a precise figure for as long as you can do so politely.


If you are asked the question during an initial screening interview, you might say that you feel you need to know more about the position's responsibilities before you could give a meaningful answer to that question.


If the interviewer continues to probe, you might say, 'You know that I'm making $_ now. Like everyone else, I'd like to improve on that figure, but my major interest is with the job itself.'


Do some research. Ask the search firm about salary.


Don't sell yourself short, but continue to stress the fact that the job itself is the most important thing in your mind.


But whenever possible, say as little as you can about salary until you reach the 'final' stage of the interview process.


24. What are your long-range goals?

Relate your goals to the company you are interviewing: 'in a firm like yours, I would like to...'


25. How successful do you you've been so far?

Say that, all-in-all, you're happy with the way your career has progressed so far. Given the normal ups and downs of life, you feel that you've done quite well and have no complaints.


Present a positive and confident picture of yourself, but don't overstate your case. The most convincing confidence is usually quiet confidence.


Recognizing The Red Flags, Dead-End Jobs, And Bad Bosses On A Job Interview


Job interviews are a two-way street. You remembered to ask questions about the job and the company. You should also look closely at the company office, the employees and the interviewer.


Look for anything you find 'funny' or 'off', anything you find out of place or odd- the way the place looks and is run, the behavior of the interviewer, etc. First impressions can be right in these cases.


Thank you for reading.
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