How to answer the tough interview questions

Posted by Elizabeth McLeod On Dec 9, 2014 9:00:00 AM

How to Answer the Tough Interview Questions

Preparing for an interview can be tough.  Aside from thinking about how you will find the building, and what you will wear, you are probably (hopefully) thinking about what you might be asked during the interview.

Below are a few common, and sometimes tricky, interview questions.  We’ve provided some tips on how to answer these effectively to ensure you get the offer.

What’s your biggest weakness?

This is probably the most talked about interview question.  Though it may seem that this question is setting you up for failure, there is an effective way to answer it.

When crafting your answer, be honest, but strategic.   Career industry expert Laura DeCarlo suggests that you never choose a weakness that demonstrates your inappropriateness for the job.  For example, “Spelling" should never be the greatest weakness of an administrative assistant.

Try to pick a genuine weakness, but one that will not discount your ability to perform the job well.  Always remember to add in how you are working to manage this weakness, and how it will not hinder your job performance.

Tell me about yourself.

Tell me about yourself is likely a warm up question, and can guide the tone to the rest of the interview.

It is not an invitation to demonstrate your ability to recite your resume.   Your interviewer already read your resume, so you need to come up with something new and interesting to say.  Try telling a story that embodies your career success or some of your greatest strengths as an individual.

Pamela Skllings offers a helpful video, as well as some examples to help you tackle this question and form an answer that sets you apart.

Tell me about a time you failed.

Talking about a failure without sabotaging yourself can be tricky.  Do not be tempted to say you’ve never failed.  This may categorize you as someone who is not self aware, or someone who always plays it safe.

Peggy McKee suggests, “This is not like the weakness question.  A weakness is a flaw in yourself that could affect your work in the future.   A failure is a temporary event that doesn’t have to happen again, if you are humble enough to learn a lesson from it.”

Regardless of which failure you chose to highlight, be sure to convey that you learned a valuable lesson.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

Though answers like “not in this job” or “in your job” may be the first things to pop in your head, it is important take this time to show your interviewer that you are both ambitious and realistic.

Try to avoid being overly specific by listing job titles or companies you would like to work for in the future.  Focus on qualities that you would like to develop further such as “I would like to be seen as an expert in product marketing” or “I would like to be the leader of an innovative sales team.”

Why should I hire you?

This is often one of the final questions in a job interview, and can be a great opportunity to reiterate your qualifications and enthusiasm for the position.

When answering this question, try to tie your qualifications back to what they are looking for, and how they can benefit from hiring you.  For example, start with “It sounds like you’re looking for _____” and then going over how exactly you embody those skills and qualities, and can be successful in the position.


Practice these questions, think of some key bullet points you would like to convey during the interview, and be yourself.  If you are a right match for the position, and the company is the right match for you, you, and your interviewer will know.


TAGS: Interview Tips, Job Search

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