Tough Questions - Well-Framed Responses
EXPLAINING YOUR WORK HISTORY:
Question: "Can you explain why there is an 8 month gap between Company A and Company B?", "Why were you out of work for so long?" or "Can you explain why you had 3 different employers in 5 years?"
Answer: Have a sound explanation for your work history. Whether you have a gap in your employment or have held several jobs in short period of time, emphasize that you were looking for a company to settle into where you could make a long-term commitment/contribution. Stress that you are not just looking for a higher paycheck.
Question:"Why are you leaving your current employer?"
Answer: Focus on positive reasons for leaving. Talk about limitations in growth potential and learning at your current job. Do not dwell on negative reasons, such as not getting a raise or not getting along with your boss or co-workers. Point out that the prospective position provides the additional growth, training or responsibilities that you are seeking.
WHY YOU ARE THE RIGHT CANDIDATE:
Question: "Why should I hire you?"
Answer: Stress the areas in your background that relate to the challenges inherent in the new position. Meet the employer's description of the position point for point with your skills and experience. Emphasize your qualifications and your dedication to success. Discuss how you will bring this to bear for the employer's company.
Question: "What are your weaknesses?" or "With regards to the job description, where do you feel your weakness are?"
Answer: Turn the question around and get the interviewer to disclose what he believes your weaknesses are. Use this opportunity to change the interviewer's mind. Give specific proof why the weakness does not exist or is not a factor in performing on the job. Describe strengths that compensate for any weaknesses that could affect your performance.
Question: "Give me an example of how you could help my company."
Answer: Describe a project where you made a significant contribution and how it effected the bottom line. Emphasize results. Show how this ability transfers from your past positions to the one being discussed during the interview.
Question: "Tell me about your salary expectations."
Answer: Turn the question around. Ask the interviewer to discuss the approximate pay range for the position.
"Based on our discussion, what do you feel an employee with my skills is worth?"
Describe your current compensation package in detail. Avoid giving a specific desired salary in the opening stages of discussion. If you give a number too high you may come across as greedy. If you give a number too low, you can lose out. Show genuine interest in the position. Inform the hiring authority that you will consider the strongest offer based on the skills you bring to the table.
TOUGH TECHNICAL QUESTIONS:
Question: "How do you ___________?" (You are not sure what the answer is)
Advice: Never exaggerate or lie. Honesty will go a long way here. Some interviewers ask questions with no correct answer just to determine if you will try to bluff your way through them. Instead of bluffing, use this opportunity to stress your desire to learn and give examples of why you are a fast learner. If you think you know the answer, but are not positive, respond by stating:
"I have never encountered that situation exactly, but if I had to give an answer based on past situations that I have encountered I would say that..." or
Question: "How would you improve a Yo-Yo?", "How would you sell me this pen?" or "If you were throwing a party and could invite one famous person, tell me who you would invite and why."
Advice: These types of questions are meant to test your poise, measure your confidence and elicit an honest reaction to a stressful situation. Many people damage their chances of winning a position by reacting to the questions as if they were personal insults or as if the interviewer was odd or stupid. The interviewer is attempting to throw you off balance and trying to have you reveal the "real you" behind last night's rehearsed answers to six or seven stock interviewing questions.
Take this opportunity to show the employer your grace under fire. An interesting answer to these questions may mean the difference between an offer and a rejection.