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Top 10 Toughest Interview Questions

Sample Tough Behavioral Interview Questions

How to Handle Interview Questions That Keep Coming Up

There seem to be certain questions that come up in almost every interview. They can be tough ones because they are often about you and your thinking process. Preparing for them ahead of time can make responding to them during the interview much easier and less stressful! The more comfortable you are during the interview, the better you will perform.  Most Behavioral interview questions ask you about specific events that are stressful or involve conflict.  Take inventory of a few situation that may have happened in your career and try to spin the in a positive light.

Sample Behavioral Interview Question #1 - Tell me about a conflict you had with your last job and how you handled or resolved it.

This can be a trap interview question and you should be prepared to answer it.  A good answer will show that you have problem solving skills and can handle conflict.  It is a common interview question to show level of maturity and if you are an unselfish team player.  Try to keep you answer positive as possible.  Stress compromise in your answer


Sample Behavioral Job Interview Question #2 - What are your weaknesses?

The most dreaded question of all! Handle this question by minimizing the weakness and emphasizing your strengths. Find a way to turn it around and make it positive. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits: "I am always working to improve my communication skills so that I can be a more effective presenter. I recently joined Toastmasters which I find very helpful. It has helped me…"

Sample Behavioral Interview Question #3 - Why do you want to work here?

The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you've given this some thought, and are not sending out resumes just because there is an opening. Doing research should give you plenty of reasons why you want to work there – be ready to describe them! As an example: "I've selected key companies whose mission statements are in line with my values, where I know I could be excited about what
the company does. Your company is very high on my list of desirable choices. Your offer exactly what I am looking for, which is…"

Sample Behavioral Interview Question #4 - Why should we hire you?

This is a great opportunity to sell yourself – to sell your experience and skills in terms of what they are looking for. Do your homework to know what key words to use and how to specifically describe what you have done in ways that demonstrate you are a perfect fit for the position. To close your mini sales pitch, summarize your experiences: "With five years' experience working in the financial industry, and my proven record of saving the company money, I could make a big difference in your company because I will be able to …. I am confident I would be a great addition to your team."


Sample Behavioral Interview Question #5 - When were you most satisfied in your job?

The interviewer wants to know what motivates you. If you can relate an example of a job or project when you were excited, the interviewer will gain some insight: "I was very satisfied in my last job because I worked directly with the customers and their problems; that is an important part of the job for me. I remember one particular situation when… (a specific example makes it more real and memorable)…"

Sample Job Interview Question #6 - What are your Career goals?

Sometimes it's best to talk about short-term and intermediate goals, and not lock yourself into the distant future. Something like, "My immediate goal is to get a job in a growth-oriented company, like this one. My long-term goal will depend on where the company goes, and my intention is to help contribute to the success of the company I am working for. I hope to eventually grow into a position of additional responsibility, such as… (having done your homework on the company, you will know what sort of position to refer to)."


Sample Interview Question #7 - Why did you leave/are you leaving your job?

This question is almost a certainty. If you are unemployed, put your leaving in a positive light: "I managed to survive two down-sizings, but the third round was a 20% reduction in force, which included me." Then focus on how (and why) this has presented you with the wonderful opportunity to come and work for their company…

If you are employed, focus on what you want in your next job: "After two years, I made the decision to look for a company that is team-focused, where I can add my experience. I believe I have found that here and I am excited about the opportunity to… (tell them specifically how you plan to make a difference)"


Sample Interview Question #8 - What can you do for us that other candidates can't? (Why should we hire you)

What makes you unique? What sets you apart from the competition? This will take an assessment of your experiences, skills, and traits. After your assessment, bring it all together in a concise manner: "I have a unique combination of strong technical skills and the ability to build strong customer relationships. This allows me to break down information and make it user-friendly. An example of this is when…"

Sample Behavioral Interview Question #9 - What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?

It's time to pull out your old performance appraisals and boss's quotes. This is a great way to brag about yourself through someone else's words: "My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can rely on me and he likes my sense of humor." Set yourself apart from your competition by giving specific reasons why your boss would say these things; once again, use examples.

Sample Interview Question #10 - What salary are you seeking?

It is best not to be the first to bring up this topic, and it is to your advantage if the employer tells you the "range" first. Prepare by knowing the "going rate" in your area and your bottom line or "walk away" point. One possible answer could be: "I am excited about the opportunity here and I am sure that when the time comes we will be able to agree upon a reasonable amount. In what range do you typically pay someone with my background?" If they do not give a range, your best bet is to respond to them with a range of your own (based on research) rather than a specific dollar amount. This leaves room for negotiation and does not take you out of the running if you were to state an amount that was too high, or sell you short by stating an amount that is too low.


There is no way of predicting which questions will be asked in an interview, but by reviewing some of the "most common" questions you can prepare, practice, and focus on how to present yourself in the most positive way. Good luck!

 

Jessica Coffey, MEd, CPRW, CFRWC
MVPSource Senior Interview Training Consultant & Coach

Jessica Coffey has over 15 years of experience providing interview coaching and career management strategies to all levels of government and private sector employees. She serves as lead Interview Coach and Trainer for The Resume Place and helped create a formal job interview coaching service there. In addition, she wrote the interview chapter of Ten Steps to a Federal Job. Prior to that, Jessica created and managed three successful mock interview programs. As a Contract Career Counselor at the IRS, she developed an interview prep guide for transitioning employees and led numerous career management workshops.


Jessica's ability to quickly assess and determine key areas of improvement for interview clients has helped them, time and again, perform more confidently and successfully during the interview process.



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