By John Rampton
According to a small business report, 50 percent of companies in 2016 say the hiring stage is the toughest challenge they face. Fifty percent of companies keep the hiring area active—this means that your ideal job is waiting for you.
Now, it’s time to prepare for interview questions that would make even the most skilled of interviewees nervous.
Despite all the preparations, a job interview is a nerve-racking experience. To make matters worse, interviewers have numerous questions that can easily get in the way of the interviewee.
These questions are not malicious. They try to get a clear picture of the candidate to make sure they are qualified for the job and that they can be a good fit for the company.
Over the years I have hired hundreds of people and interviewed thousands of candidates. As a recruiter, taking candidates out of their control state allows me to see how they can thrive under pressure in the workplace.
No matter how experienced or prepared you are, sometimes these questions are designed to trip anyone up. If you want to avoid it, you should prepare some answers for difficult questions like the following 11 examples.
1. “Can you tell me about yourself?”
This may sound like an innocent and straightforward question. However, it can mislead you to the point of delving too deeply into your personal life. The great interviewers through conversation determine aspects such as culture. You should focus it on your academic training, your professional career, and recent work experiences.
How to respond: don’t talk about your family or your hobbies. Stay focused on sharing information about how you can be a good fit for the organization.
2. “Are you the type of person who checks your email on vacation?”
On the one hand, you want to convey the dedication and passion you have about your job, you want to assure the interviewer that you are available and that you are trustworthy. Similarly, you must imply that you know the value and importance of work-life balance away from it.
How to respond: Let the employer know that you are 100 percent committed to your job. However, let him know that you also need time away from the office. Make it clear that you will have all your responsibilities completed before you go on vacation and that in case of an emergency you can be contacted.
Keep in mind that if you are like Elon Musk or me, the answer you are looking for may be a little different, especially if I am starting my business and I want my team to work 24/7. If we don’t work harder, faster, and longer than everyone else, we will miss the race.
3. “How did you prepare for this interview?”
This question is intended to find out if they really care about this particular job or are there purely by mechanism.
How to respond: show that you took the time to research about the company before the interview, share information about it—for example, background of the company—or mention trends that occur within the industry and observe the positive effects you can achieve in the person who interviews you.
To give you an example, when I asked the last person I hired that question, they started to describe our ecash product. He went into a level of detail that even I didn’t know. He also pointed out three potential issues that neither I nor my team had thought of. That is to be prepared for the question.
4. “What is your dream job?”
This is another question used to determine how important it is for you to work for this specific organization or if you are only applying for each vacancy of any job.
How to Respond: Handle it simply by responding, “This is where I would like to work.”
5. “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
I fell into this trap when I was younger by answering that I would like to continue my education in order to achieve a better position in a completely different industry. After six months, they fired me, not because of my job performance, but because the organization felt that I was not going to be with them long term.
How to answer: Companies do not want to invest in an employee who does not plan to stay there. Hiring people for the short term is not in their business plan. While you don’t have to lie, answer this question honestly by saying that you are looking for a challenging job that you are passionate about and that goes hand in hand with your future goals. If you think this position fits those needs, explain how the organization can help you achieve those goals.
6. “What is your biggest weakness?”
Responding with the cliche: “I’m a perfectionist” is a phrase interviewers hear all the time and it usually doesn’t work. Also, it does not explain how you take the necessary steps to become a stronger employee or how you overcome obstacles.
How to respond: Instead of saying that you are too committed to excellence or that you are simply a perfectionist, go a little further. The key to talking about a weakness is to immediately explain a solution. For example, respond with: “I tend to want to do the simple tasks first and the more complex tasks later, although I know the opposite is better for my productivity.”
7. “Why do you want to work here?”
Again, this is the kind of question that shows your true interest in the job, just like whether you have done your homework and whether you fit in with the company culture.
How to Respond: Arnie Fertig at US News outlines a few possible responses that will impress your recruiter:
“I know several colleagues who have worked at your company for years and they have all said great things to me.”
“I was thrilled to see that on your website employees are leaving comments about how good it is to work for your company.”
“Your company’s Facebook page is really attractive. I like how they work on that aspect.”
“Your company is known for making great products that help people do X things. But in addition to that, I know the leadership role of your company in our community through your support of X, Y and Z events or causes, to name a few. Their products and philanthropy show that they are a company that cares as much about profit as it does about society.”
8. “Do you like to work alone or in a team?”
If you say that you like to work alone, then you can be seen as someone who takes care of getting things done. But, if you respond by saying that you prefer to work in groups, then you may seem like an individual who is not capable of making his own decisions.
How to respond: Make it clear that you enjoy both types of work relationships. List the pros and cons of each type of job. For example, working in a group allows you to learn new skills and exchange ideas. However, you also like the freedom to work independently as that way you can get things done faster and without interruption.
9. “Why did you leave your last job?”
Don’t use this as an opportunity to badmouth your former employer or company. This will alert the interviewer as soon as they contact your references.
How to respond: Be sincere and honest. Don’t focus on the negative. Instead, detail everything you learned from your previous job or how the experience helped you grow. However, the reason you left was that it was time to explore new opportunities and step out of your comfort zone.
10. “Have you ever been asked to compromise your integrity by a colleague or supervisor?”
This is a question that is intended to test your ethics and morals. The reason it can be difficult is because it can lead you down a path where you could speak ill of your former employees or employers. Even worse, you could share confidential information, or say something about the internal practices of your previous company.
How to respond: Honesty, clarity, and accuracy. As for your recruiter, behave like a professional toward him and do not share any type of private information.
11. “What are your financial claims?”
This question can make both parties uncomfortable. Also, the interviewer is not allowed to negotiate or discuss your salary. The purpose of this question is to know if the company can afford you.
How to answer: Research and deduce what the salary is in the industry and market in which you operate. Payscale recommends these two possible answers to the following questions:
Question: What salary range are you looking for? “Let’s talk about the requirements and expectations of the job first, so you can get an idea of what I need.” That is a soft answer to a soft question.
Question: What do you want in terms of salary? “I am interested in finding a job that fits my needs, I am sure that the salary they handle is consistent with the rest of the market.” In other words, I respect myself and want to believe that the company is respectable.
When you answer any of the questions above, be yourself and don’t try to be something you are not. In the end you will not be able to hide the truth. Be true to the person within you. If an interview does not go as well as you expected, it may mean that it is not for you. At some point before getting a job, I interviewed 17 companies about 26 times. I was about to throw in the towel, but kept going.
You can do it. Go on and don’t give up.