Tough Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

As if interviews aren't stressful enough, interviewers like to throw in some tough questions to get a glimpse into the candidate's character. Sometimes these questions seem quite innocent, but your answer could make or break your chance of getting the job. Let's have a look at tough interview questions and how to answer them.

Tell me a little about yourself

Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? But this question is a minefield. Depending on your answers, the interviewer will judge whether you are authentically confident or actually indifferent. Do you have a career plan, or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants. While it's acceptable--if not preferable--to be confident, try not to stick too many feathers in your own hat. And while you don't have to have your future mapped out, it is recommended to have some idea of where you're going and how to get there.

Why do you think you are right for this job?

Whatever you do, don't say that you are a hard worker, that you like the responsibility that comes with the job, or anything that refers to your character. The interviewer has heard these kinds of cliches a hundred times. Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on the company. Show a belief in their products or services. Be enthusiastic about that.

Why did you leave your previous job?

Another minefield. If you quit because you were bored with you job or didn't like your boss, you can't say that. You can never speak ill of a past employer. Neither can you say that you were bored, because the new company might wonder if you will get bored with them. If you were fired, it's best to be honest without going into detail. The company you're applying with is going to find out anyway when you need to supply references. You could word it differently, though, and say that you were let go because you and your boss didn't see eye to eye.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

This question may reveal more than you think. If you answer right away, it means that you have given your future a lot of thought and know exactly what you want. You are ambitious and may use any means to get to an end. If you answer after a long pause, you haven't given your future any thought at all. You are happy with your life as it is, and will take your future one step at a time.

What are your weaknesses?

Does anyone really want to reveal their weaknesses? Of course not. Whichever weakness you admit to, don't say that you are a perfectionist, too organized, can't work with people who don't live up to their full potential or anything else that will put a positive spin on a weakness. A good answer might be that you are more of a leader than a follower and that your ideas are not always welcomed by management. Companies like leaders and like new ideas. They might not always like your ideas, but they like someone with initiative.

What are your salary expectations?

This may seem like a tough question. After all, set you salary too low and you might be underselling yourself. Set your salary too high and it may cost you the job. The answer to this particular problem is simple, name a salary range. If, for instance, you want to earn $50,000, you could say that you would like to earn between $48,000 and $58,000. Chances are, in such a range they will offer you $54,000.

The best advice anyone can give you before going to an interview is to be yourself. While it's a good idea to be prepared and research the matter of tough interview questions and how to answer them, don't memorize the answers. Interviewers go online too, and know what's out there. They can spot a copycat a mile away. Read the questions and answers and then make them your own.

It's okay to stumble over an answer or take a minute before replying. Being a smooth talker doesn't always work in your favor. An interviewer has seen and heard it all and will enjoy your honesty.

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