How to answer tough interview questions

09.11.2013


How to answer tough interview questions
How to answer tough interview questions.

Interviewing is a stressful process in the first place, and related anxieties can only be heightened when taken off guard by a tough question. Tripping up a candidate can provide an employer with important information about you, like how you keep your cool under pressure, how you respond to adversity and how good you are at thinking fast when necessary. To make sure you pass the test, knowing how to respond well to some popular left-field questions can provide you with confidence from the outset, another advantage that'll get you ahead.

Some of the more popular tough questions employers ask concern your resume, whether they're questioning a gap in your work history, your job experience related to the position you're interviewing for or your other qualifications, according to Toshiba. If you have a gap in your work history that's longer than a few months, it might raise questions for an interviewer, but deflecting them harmlessly can boost your chances. If you couldn't find a job, giving examples of what volunteering or part-time work you took on will make you look driven and motivated. For other reasons, such as traveling or home-related issues, the right answer will show you're both personable and reasonable.

Another increasingly common roadblock in many employment paths is that of social media - namely, the contents of your personal sites. If you've got nothing to hide, gladly allow your interviewer to see your credentials. However, if you have private material on your Facebook or other profiles, allowing them to instead see other sites to back up your credentials, like a LinkedIn page, can work, as long as you tie in its relevance to the job hunt.

Interest and preparedness
Other popular questions for interviewers to have include how invested and interested you are for the position itself. Before any job interview, make sure you visit their website and other publications to make sure you're prepared - whether the question's about potential improvement or why you're interested in a position at the company, showing prior and learned knowledge about a given position can leave a very positive impression about your desire and drive to work for them.

Companies will also be looking to test your expertise in the field, as they don't want to waste their time on an employee who isn't prepared for the job. No matter what job you're looking to land, learning about the field itself and what skills are needed to succeed should be a priority. Being able to answer questions effectively and strongly about how the industry's doing in general should be your goal, showing your potential employer you're prepared and ready for whatever challenges you're expected to face.

Continuing education can be a double-edged sword
Many companies, especially those in high-tech fields requiring continued education beyond an undergraduate degree, will want to see what your plans for the future entail. However, this question can be tricky, as you don't want to make it seem like you'll be leaving the position after a short amount of time in order to pursue further education. Ideally, you should deflect the question about your future by showing interest in continued education but also keeping the onus on their employee programs. This means discussing how such programs can help you further develop your education while you're employed with the company. 

If the conversation turns to past positions, especially if you've been fired or had negative experiences, it can be tempting to discuss in negative lights - but that will likely ruin your chances. Remain positive, though not overly positive, about the experiences and opportunities provided by past positions, according to Cool Avenues, but don't be too flattering. However, avoid the impulse to be negative - a bad attitude is one of the red flags employers will be looking to coax out in an interview.

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