Career success

How To Handle a Tough Job Interview Successfully

Job interview tips

There are many kinds of tough job interview. As such, you won't find a fixed definition of a tough job interview. However, here are 11 most common kinds of tough job interview questions:


1. “Stress interviews

There is a separate guide on handling stress interviews. But repeating the main thing: They want to see your approach towards difficult questions, your thinking process as you work out answers (it is never about right or wrong), your willingness to work your mind (aka creativity) and most importantly, whether you remain calm. Relax, they just want to see how deal with the situation. Nothing personal.


Dealing with all the interview mind games: Come out as a 'problem solver'

Talk in 'I' mode (no 'you', he mode) as much as possible. Talk in active voice as much as possible. Give facts only. Avoid adverbs. Talk in past tense (I created, I achieved, I increased...)


Mind your hyperboles: Control the 'always', 'never', 'absolutely' and such.


If they ask about the previous boss, just give the name if asked and nothing more.


2. 'Stress interview Part 2: The silent treatment

They will say nothing after your answer. They will pause before answering. They will stare at you. Relax, they just playing at their role of the toughie and they are being paid for it. Don't get involved. Look at the questions, the situation just as if there was a higher being observing from above.


If they are silent at the start of the interview: Say “I am waiting for you to start interviewing me…


3. “What’s your greatest weakness?

You either give an honest reply (i.e. some skills you didn't really get the hang of, but don't talk about the cost you or your employer had to pay for your weakness) or a fun reply ('I listen to Dire Straits a lot, a lot lot'), which will throw them off the track, hopefully in a pleasant way.


Some advice we answer bullshit with bullshit- Give a cliched answer: E.g. 'I'm a perfectionist', 'I'm a workaholic, I never go home on time' or 'I care too much'- and being as vague about it as possible- don't go into specifics about such as bullshit question.


About giving an honest answer: Pause. Ask about the work conditions, before replying: If you will be required to work in a team, don't say 'I am not a team player' or 'I am shy.'


4. The salary question

The number one rule of salary negotiation: Don't give a number that easy. If they insist give a higher number, saying that it all depends on what the final package will be. Come prepared though. Check up online resources (Glassdoor, Payscale) and find out the salary range for the job in that particular company and the industry.


5. The hypothetical situation

When they throw a “Imagine You … kind of work simulation question. Think STAR: Think of a similar situation (S) in a previous job, the tactics (T) you used and the results (R) you got.


6. Any personal question is a tricky question


Decline to answer questions related to your health, religion, ethnicity, marital or family status- many of these questions may be illegal to ask in a job interview in many interviews.


If they ask “What are your hobbies?, answer briefly. If you become too enthusiastic (how fortunate this stranger wants to know about my personal life!) , it might seem to them you like your hobbies than your performance at the job, or it may be the case that one of them dislikes your hobby. Answer quickly and move on.


7. “Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

This is the time to show your interest and enthusiasms for their company, so do your research- recent company news, products, about the vision of the company and most importantly about the job (day to day activities, how important it is for the company, etc.)


8. Speed Interviewing

No one is sure how effective speed interviewing is. Most seem to be going by the NYU study which said that impressions are made within the first seven seconds of meeting. Have a good elevator pitch ready and answers for questions like, 'Why do you think you are best suited for us?'.


9. Interview Brainteasers

Brainteasers have come to be big things with big name companies like Microsoft (it started this whole disease)


No one knows how effective are these brainteasers. Maybe the company people use it to filter the thousands on applicants they receive each year.


But, the idea is not give a correct answer to these trick questions, and often there is no correct answer to a question, only the company wants to know how you think – how you process the question (being shocked and saying ‘that’s not possible’ will get your rejected ASAP), and how you arrive at your answer, whatever that is.


A popular question: Why are manholes round?

The correct way is to consider the question from different angles. You might answer that manhole covers are round because it makes them easier for one person to move them around by rolling them on one side. They might be round because if the manholes were, say, square- or for that matter, any shape other than a circle- they could easily drop through the hole. This is the traditional 'right' answer. Another popular answer to this is that the round covers don't need to be rotated to fit over the hole they're covering, as square ones would.


10. Probing questions about previous company

Examples of 'acceptable' lying: For example, many coders will say that since they were made to sign Non Disclosure Agreements at their previous company, they can't fully answer the question. This kind of lying throws the onus of verification on to the other party.


11. Other uncomfortable questions

If they ask about your health, you can give vague answers- e.g. 'I am okay'.


Twist the uncomfortable question around: Think, what does the interviewer want to know when he asks questions like 'Are you religious?'- a proper answer to this question can be this: 'I am but not like it would affect my job performance.'


If you can't twist the uncomfortable question, just be honest: Ask the interviewer 'What is it specifically that you want to know? I would be happy to answer that.'


Thank you for reading.
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