Thinking on your feet: How to answer difficult questions in a job interview

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28 Oct 2022

Job interviews are always critical. When you are after a particular job, and there are other individuals equally keen on landing the same job, your answers to those difficult questions in a job interview will be the game changer. Here’s an overview of those difficult questions in a job interview certainly come up.

These tips will help you think on your feet and answer all questions with ease and confidence:

Question#1: Tell us something about yourself.

This is sometimes the most difficult question in a job interview to answer. Remember, this is your elevator pitch. It gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself the way you want to, and to lay the cards in your favor.

However, when you are introducing yourself, there are a few important factors to keep in mind.

  • Start with your current employment status. Tell them about where you are working, what you working on and in one line gives an introduction about the current company you are working in.
  • Do not make your introduction a basic recitation of your resume.
  • Share a brief overview of your past education and employment and highlight the high points in an interesting way.

Your introduction is your “selling point” and you must use anything but a monotonous or plain narrative. You must be able to describe your strengths subtly to your interviewer. Make sure that your introduction is crisp and engaging, keeping it true to your personality and character.

For example:

  1. Start with name and designation:Hi, I m Rajesh Sharma, currently, I am working as Project Manager at Wipro.
  2. Key Responsibilities:

  3. My key responsibilities are to assist the technical team in design and development tasks.
  4. Mention the important projects you worked on and what was your role:

  5. I have worked on website designing project where my role was to assist the technical team.
  6. Years of experience:I have been working at Wipro for the last two year. Before that, I was working at Tata Consultancy Services as System Engineer( You can mention your previous job in the same order)
  7. Education Background:
  8. I completed my B.Tech in computer science from SRM University in 2014. At SRM, I was the President of the drama club.
  9. Hobbies:In the past time, I like to read and travel

Question#2: Why did you leave your last job?

Your recruiter will definitely probe you for an explanation of your job transition. While there may be several reasons for your decision to change your job, there is no need to be modest about them. Do not lie, either.

  • The thumb rule is to begin by talking about your tenure, contributions, and achievements at your present or previous company.
  • Gradually, proceed to the negative reason, giving only a short description. Keep in mind that the negative reason mentioned should not reflect negatively on your personality.
  • Always end with describing how it’s time for you to embrace new challenges and greater opportunities to learn and grow. You will find this only in a new job with a different setup, new people and a new role to play.

For example:

  1. At Wipro, I was working with assisting the technical team in the design, it was more of a supportive role, I worked on a various website designing projects and had to manage the team.
  2. I want to move to Product management roles, in my previous company I was not getting many opportunities for the role. Therefore, I want to switch.
  3. Embrace new challenges: After working for two years as a Project Manager, I am ready to take a new role and understand and learn about the nuance of being a product manager.

Question#3: Why should we hire you?

This could be the most difficult questions in a job interview. So, let’s extend this question a bit: “Why should we hire you when there are so many other qualified candidates?” Answering this can be tricky. When the recruiter is asking you for reasons to hire you, they want to know what unique contributions you can make for the growth of the company.

  • This an opportunity for you to emphasize your strengths and nail the interview.
  • Include a combination of your past experience, your innate skills and capabilities, and your accomplishments.
  • Stress on the drive and passion that is peculiar to you.
  • Brainstorm on how your skill sets and expertise make you an absolute fit for the profile and will help the company.
  • Do not elaborate or ramble extensively.
  • Present authentic and convincing arguments that will turn the table immediately in your favor.

For example

  1. Be Polite and emphasize:You definitely have the advantage over me, since you know exactly what you’re looking for and I’m just learning about your company.
  2. Tell about what they are looking for and how you can cope up.You need someone who is going to deal with issues like XYZ in their first six months on the job. Shall I tell you about how I handled those issues at my last job?

Question#4: What are your salary expectations?

This is the beginning of your salary negotiating process and you certainly do not want to get uncomfortable or sound confused or unprepared. Determine the least you would settle for before-hand, and offer a range over and above this.

  • Know that your recruiter is likely to choose the lower end of the range, so provide a number accordingly.
  • Throughout the negotiating process, be confident.
  • Self-assurance will definitely make your recruiter think that you are worth the number and losing you will not be a good idea.
  • Skilfully, highlight your key strengths that will justify the number, if it is towards the higher end than the regular packages offered.

Make sure you do not go overboard, since that may disqualify you from the position. Drawing a balance between the company’s budget, the industry standards, and your expectation is the ideal way to answer this question.

Question#5: How long do you plan on working here?

Though there is no certainty to this, companies often ask this question to know your level of commitment and if their investment in your training will give them expected returns. It is almost mandatory to give the company the satisfaction that you are excited about the job profile and would stay for a long time.

Plans can change, but make sure you do not state it. There is no need to specify a timeline. You can tactfully end the discussion by expressing your gratitude if hired and if given the opportunity to contribute and grow.

Question#6: What is your greatest weakness?

This question can scare a lot of us. However, recruiters ask this question not to scare you or figure out what you’re not good at, but to test and see if you’re aware of it.

  • The first step to bettering a problem is to be aware of it. And most importantly, if you’re willing to make changes to rectify the problem that you have noticed.
  • The best way to answer this question is to keep calm and answer this with utmost modesty.
  • Humans err and there is nothing unnatural about having problems since we all do. It’s always better to state a problem that has a silver lining.
  • State a problem and use a skill of yours to deter it, that way, you can sound confident about yourself.

For Example

  1. Know Your Weakness:My greatest weakness is that I sometimes have a hard time letting go of a project.
  2. Provide an explanation:I’m the biggest critic of my work, and I can always find something that needs to be improved or changed.
  3. How you are trying to improve:To help myself improve in this area, I give myself deadlines for revisions. This helps me I’m not making changes at the last minute.

Question#7: Tell me about your dream job/role.

This might not openly sound like a tricky question, but it most definitely is. Your recruiters would not only want to test how passionate you are about the job itself but if you are passionate about the idea of the job as well.

  • It’s important to ask yourself if the job you are applying for is your dream job. If it is, insist that it is. If it isn’t, then best not to state it at all.
  • You’ll basically have to convince your recruiter that you will be completely at the focus in your job, and not wish for a better position elsewhere.
  • Always connect your answer to what your ideal answer would be. If your job is somewhere close to being your dream job, best weave your answer to make it sound that way.

Question#8: What interests you most about this company?

Recruiters would always want to know why you applied to the position and what about their company pulled you in. If you applied because you specifically wanted the job, it makes the recruiters confident that you will indeed work for the position that you worked hard to land an interview for. However, this depends on your answer.

It’s natural to want an employee who is passionate and committed to the job, and recruiters are willing to invest in an employee who knew what the company stands for, or even what the particular job profile is. Without knowing either one, a recruiter would be hesitant about hiring a nonchalant employee. There has to be something you like about your potential company, and that is what drove you to apply in the first place. Brush this answer up, and make it sound convincing.

For any kind of job interview, the ground rule remains the same — be positive. A positive outlook, confidence, some research, and the right experience will not only help you to answer these difficult questions in a job interview but will also help you to successfully land a job of your choice.

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