10 Toughest Interview Questions and their Best Answers


The best way to prepare for an interview is to leave no stone unturned. Fear of the unknown can only exist when there is an unknown. Know what may be coming and practice in advance.

Some questions like ‘Tell me about yourself’ might seem oddly simple on the surface, but the more open ended the question, the wider the variation in the answers. There are also classic interview questions like ‘What is your greatest weakness?’ Interviewees often try to offer a positive veiled as a weakness like ‘I work too hard.’ That doesn’t work. You are lying or, worse yet, you are telling the truth. Get a life.

The following answers will offer you a fresh perspective to answer the toughest interview questions. Remember, don’t copy-paste the answer in your next important interview. These are provided so uou have a basic structure to formulate your answers.
Here goes.

1. Tell me about yourself.
Seems too easy. You can start right from the birth canal forward. Right?

Wrong.

This is just another way to ask why you're the best candidate for the job. Think it to be, “Tell me what makes you the best.”

Talk about what you've done to be the best candidate for the position. Use an example or two to back it up.

2. Why should I hire you?
A straightforward way of asking you what makes you the best person for the job.

Just say what differentiates you.

An example: "You should hire me because I'm the best person for the job. I bring an X quality that makes me the best person for the job…"

3. Where do you see yourself 10 years down the line?

Focus on your achievable objectives and what you’re doing to reach them.

An example: "In the next five years, I want to become the best accountant the company. Here is what I'm presently doing to prepare myself…"

4. How has your education prepared you for this job?

You need to focus on the behavioral examples in your educational background that help you gain the required competencies for your career.

An example: "My education has focused not only on the fundamentals, but also on the practical application of the information."

5. Are you a team player?

Almost everyone says yes. It’s not a yes/no question. Offer examples to back up your answer.

An answer, "I'm very much a team player. In fact, I've had opportunities in my work, school and athletics to develop my skills as a team player…"

Emphasize your openness to diversity of backgrounds and offer teamwork behavioral examples.

6. Have you ever had a conflict with your Boss or Professor?

If you say no, most interviewers will grill you till they find one. The key is to point out how you reacted to conflict and what you did to resolve it.

For example: "Yes, I have had conflicts. Not major ones, but there have been disagreements. I've found that when conflict occurs, it helps to fully understand the other person’s perspective…"

Focus on how you work collaboratively to resolve conflict.

7. What is your greatest weakness?

Most books tell you to select a strength and present it as a weakness.

Wrong. First of all, using a strength and presenting it as a weakness is absurd. Second, it misses the entire point.

Select a weakness that you actually have, and have been actively working to overcome.

8. If I were to ask your professors (or previous Boss) to describe you, what would they say?

This is a threat of reference check.

Do not wait for the interview to know the answer. Ask any prior bosses or professors in advance. And if they're willing to provide a positive reference, ask them for a letter of recommendation.

"I believe she would say I'm a very energetic person, that I'm result oriented and one of the best people she has ever worked with. Actually, I know she would say that, because those are her very words. May I show you her letter of recommendation?"

Be prepared with your letters of recommendation.

9. What qualities should a successful manager have?

Focus on two aspects - leadership and vision.

Here is an example: "The key quality in a successful manager should be leadership—the ability to be the visionary for the people who are working under them. The person who can set the course and direction for subordinates, keeping them focused on what is most important for delivering the highest priority results. The highest calling of a true leader is inspiring others to reach the highest of their abilities. I'd like to tell you about a person whom I consider to be a true leader…"

Tell them about someone who touched your life and how their impact has helped in your personal development.

10. If you had to live your life over again, what one thing would you change?

Focus on a missed opportunity. Tie it forward to what you are doing to still seek to make that change.

For example: "The one aspect I likely would have changed would be focusing earlier on my chosen career. I had a great internship this past year and look forward to more experience in the field. I simply wish I would have focused here earlier.”

Stay focused on the positives.

Image credit: Indiatimes
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