No matter how many you’ve been on, interviews are nerve-racking. You want to positively represent yourself, but there are so many variables that can affect how you’re perceived. That’s why we like to be as prepared as possible and have thoughtful responses to common questions at the ready. Here, five tough interview questions…and answers you should always be able to nail.
1. Tough Question: Walk me through your résumé.
The Best Answer: This is your chance to make a good first impression. It’s not the time for a ten-minute-long monologue about everything you’ve ever accomplished. Be concise and tailor your response to the job you’re applying for. For example, applying for a sales position? This would be a great time to call out relevant on-the-job experience that highlights your people skills as well as any big-time deals you closed.
2. Tough Question: Why do you want this job?
The Best Answer: Your answer to this question shows two things: whether you’re passionate about the job and whether you’ve done your homework. Bring up work the company has done in the past and stress the ways you’d be able to make an impact. You want to make clear what you’ll bring to the table, but that info needs to be in direct alignment with what you’ve gleaned to be the company’s goals. There is a bit of nuance to this too: Obviously, you don’t want to come off as desperate, but you also don’t want to play it so cool that you seem blasé.
3. Tough Question: What do you consider to be your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
The Best Answer: Yes, it’s kind of annoying, but it’s frequently asked, so you might as well be prepared with an answer that’s honest yet still flattering. In other words, don’t say your biggest weakness is that you’re always late and don’t go overboard with something hyperbolic for a selling point. Instead, choose a more moderate shortcoming, like “I don’t like confrontation, so at times I’ve made unnecessary compromises instead of standing my ground,” and a strength that could apply to the current position, like “I’m great at leading a team thanks to my experience managing this group toward X success.”
4. Tough Question: What do you like to do outside the office?
The Best Answer: Basically, the interviewer wants to know if they’d be OK chatting with you during a three-hour flight. Again, don’t ramble, but definitely have a few hobbies and interests at the ready.
5. Tough Question: Do you have any questions for me?
The Best Answer: The answer should always be yes. This shows that you’re interested and curious. But that doesn’t mean the questions you ask don’t matter. For example, if you’re interviewing for an advertising position, don’t ask “What clients have you worked with?” Instead, say something like “I really liked the recent campaign you did for Amazon and was wondering how the team landed on that particular slogan.” Stay away from questions about vacation time and working from home (this comes later, once you have an actual offer)…unless you really don’t care if you get the job.