I Have An Interview — How Do I Handle Tough Interview Questions??

Originally published at http://www.careersonline.com.au/Articles/questions.html.


Q. How do you handle stress?
Notice how this question is subtly different to “can you handle stress?” Reply with: “I break my work down into smaller steps and work through those steps rather than get worked up over the bigger picture.”

Or: “I tend to see problems arising before they become too large to handle and I make contingencies to cover them.”

Q. How long have you been looking for work/another position?

If you’ve been unemployed for a while obviously the employer is going to think why didn’t anyone want them in all that time? If they were any good surely they?d have found a job by now? Also – always remember that businesses are fuelled by innovation and solving customer’s needs and problems. They’re not fuelled by the amount of hours their employees work.

You’re not there to work 40 hours a week. You are there to reach and attain certain goals. So, your best answer to the question is along the lines of:

I don’t want just any old job. I?ve been using my days researching companies I’d most like to work for and where I feel I could grow and develop my skills and be a key member in the company’s success. I?ve also been studying and reading to give myself more skills to add more value to my chosen career.

You might also go on to explain that you knew this would go against you because of the length of time you were out of work, but you realized that your whole future relied on what you did now and you were willing to take that risk.

Q. Have you ever been fired?

Try to answer “NO.”

If you have been and are asked about it, explain why, and what you learned from the experience. If other people were fired with you or resigned because of a change in management, or were laid off due to offshoring then explain that as well.

Q. In your last position what duties did you perform?

This question is to see whether you are goal or task oriented.

Tell them what you did and what it meant to the company:

Part of my job involved typing letters to customers to nurture and develop the value of our relationships with them. This involved establishing an intimate knowledge of our customers needs. It also took up a lot of time but I got around this by establishing a clever database for merging that sped up the process significantly.

This shows you are goal oriented, that you believe in getting the job done and not just in being busy. Some task-oriented people believe in simply being busy. Employers desperately want goal-oriented people.

Q. Can we check your references?

This question is often asked to put you off-guard. This is especially true if you come across as being too perfect, or too smooth.

If you already have a job and are considering changing tell the interviewer they can check your references if you receive a firm job offer as you want to keep matters confidential for the moment.

If they want to check your present employer for a reference, make sure they give you a written job offer first. The last thing you need is to miss out on the job and arrive back at work to find your present employer finding ways to dismiss you for lack of loyalty.

Q. Tell me about yourself?

Make sure you answer this question in a way that benefits the employer. They are looking for honesty, integrity, being a team player, punctuality and goal orientated people. If you are going to talk about something, don?t ramble on and on. Instead, talk about one of the subjects I’ve just mentioned.

A great strategy is to ask: “What area of my background are you most interested in?” Their response allows you to tell them what they want to hear.

Q. Why do you feel you are better than the other applicants?

This is not the time to put down other people nor is it the time to brag about how great you are.

You have a few options. The first is to say something along the lines like “to many people, being a ………………… is just a job. To me it’s something I?ve always wanted to be. Being a ……………. is more than a job to me ? it’s a passion and that passion comes through in my work.”

The other option is to say you never worried about being better than the rest. You’ve only considered being the best you can be. Go on to tell them you think your skills are the most valuable for the position and then show them how you can use them to be incredibly productive and a great team member.

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Do your interview skills pass the test?  Do you need some assistance in improving your interview persona?  If so, contact a Career Counselor with Lexacount Search’s Career Consulting Services.  If you are interested in learning more about finance and accounting industry opportunities, contact a Search Consultant from Lexacount Search’s Finance Group.  Or, if you are interested in attorney or other roles in the legal industry, contact a Search Consultant from Lexacount Search’s Legal Group.


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