Imagine you’ve received an interview invitation for the role you’ve been vying for. Congratulations on securing the first few steps towards your goal! As you prepare for the interview, you might start anticipating your interviewer’s questions. Even if you start to make a list of the usual interview questions, remember; common doesn’t mean easy.
So, how exactly can you prepare yourself for the usual but tricky job interview questions that could be thrown your way? There are many strategies to get ready, yet the most effective method is to ‘practice.’
How to Prepare for Tricky Questions
Although there are many things you can do to prepare for your interview, it’s usually best to focus only on the most effective strategies. We highly recommend three effective strategies for any candidate preparing for their big day.
Research the Company and Role
Just as diligent students do their homework before class, it’s essential to study before your interview. It includes conducting thorough research about the company you want to join.
Begin by going through their website. In today’s technology and internet era, almost all companies have their own online site. If you can’t find their web page, use social media platforms to learn more about them.
Dive into the company’s history. Look at their recent posts and their latest achievements. Find their mission and vision. Read more about your desired role, job description, and candidate requirements.
While viewing their pages and website, analyze the content and find out what values are the most important for them. For example, do they try to show diversity in the materials they post? Or maybe they actively participate in events like Mental Health Week. Pay attention to the content they put out since those can greatly help you align your interview answers to what a company is looking for.
Read More: Takeaways from Netflix’s Interview Framework
Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Self-awareness is one of the most powerful skills you can wield in an interview. During an interview, interviewers rarely focus on questions about your resume or cover letter. They often focus on getting to know you as an individual and a potential employee. Remember that getting to know people who don’t know much about themselves is difficult.
How can you become more self-aware? Take a moment before your scheduled interview to relax and reflect. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest about what you’re good at and what you need to work on as a professional. Remind yourself that weaknesses can be strengthened and think about specific ways you can improve them.
What are the steps you’ve already taken towards your growth? Are you staying updated on the latest trends in technology, for instance? Meanwhile, for your strengths, highlight the ones relevant to the job you’re applying for. Think of specific experiences you have that would prove your greatest strengths. For example, are you a team player? Then highlight instances wherein you demonstrated that ability.
Practice with Mock Interviews
The old saying “practice makes perfect” is famous for a reason. Although it can’t guarantee perfect performance, practicing how you answer interview questions can increase your chances of successfully getting through a tough job interview.
The term ‘mock interviews’ doesn’t mean you need to find someone to act as an interviewer. You can also ask yourself questions in front of a mirror or imagine an interview process. The most important thing for this strategy is for you to learn how to answer tough interview questions.
Consider the common but tricky questions that could come up, record your answers, review them, and refine your responses. Try also to act as if you’re already in the interview proper. This means you must also pay attention to your body language and tone when answering.
Read More: How to Land the Tech Job You Want
Tricky Questions and Ideal Responses
Of course, there are cases where some interview questions have a straightforward response. For example, ‘What’s your professional background?’ or ‘How did you learn about this position?’. On the other hand, there are also tricky interview questions that might seem simple initially but can indicate a lot about yourself as a candidate.
The following are some examples of tricky questions and how to respond to them during your interview.
1. Tell me about yourself.
Although it’s more of a statement, this question can be tricky because you can respond in many ways. Having the freedom to focus on anything about yourself can cause you to freeze or struggle in choosing what facts to mention.
When introducing yourself, focus on your professional background and relevant skills. Mention facts and experiences related to the role you’re applying for. You can also highlight accomplishments and important career decisions related to the role. For example, if you’ve led a successful project in the past, highlight it.
2. What is your biggest weakness?
Admitting your weakness can be difficult for some. This question, in particular, becomes even harder because you need to state your weakness while still presenting yourself as a strong candidate.
To effectively answer this question, you can choose one of the two paths to take:
- Admit your weakness but emphasize what you’ve done to overcome it. Showing self-awareness is important, as well as your willingness to improve.
- Choose a weakness relevant to the job. Mention a job that can also point towards a positive trait. For example, you can say, “I sometimes take on too many tasks, so I need to work on delegating. “Although this is a weakness, it shows dedication to your work.
3. Why should we hire you over other candidates?
It’s all about differentiating yourself from other candidates without bringing any of them down in the process. This question is tricky because it forces you to word your reasons positively. You need to sound confident while still remaining humble or not condescending to others.
Focus more on your unique skills to achieve the perfect balance between the two traits. Highlight your relevant experiences aligned with what the company is looking for. Remember that every candidate invited for an interview fits the requirements for the role. Ask yourself, what are your experiences and qualities that not everyone has?
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Candidates can make the mistake of answering this with a vague response. This specific question is tricky because it makes you think all answers are okay since it’s a personal question. However, the truth is that interviewers are checking if candidates can align their career paths to the company’s goals and milestones.
When responding to this question, use the information you’ve initially researched about the company. Express your ambition to improve and grow your career in a way aligned with the organization’s mission and vision. Remain open to evolving roles and careers that may become available over time.
5. Describe a time when you disagreed with a decision from your higher-ups.
According to 62 percent of company leaders, interpersonal skills are critical for candidates for any position. 59 percent of the same population also believe communication skills are necessary for everyone.¹
Because of this, you’ll be asked tricky questions that would test how you communicate with others in a professional setting. Your response would dictate your ability to handle conflict in the workplace.
The best way to answer questions like this is by telling an experience. Describe a specific situation where you had to disagree respectfully. Others may think this question is a test of whether you’ll listen to authority figures or not. Instead, this emphasizes your ability to communicate and collaborate with others effectively.
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Allow us to help you find great opportunities to bring you a step closer towards your career goals. Contact us today to learn more!
1 Graduate Management Admission Council. “Corporate Recruiters Survey.” GMAC, www.gmac.com/market-intelligence-and-research/market-research/corporate-recruiters-survey.