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How To Answer The Toughest Job Interview Questions

After all the hours spent crafting the resume and distributing them to potential employers, the call you’ve been waiting for finally came through. You’ve been invited for a job interview at one of the top companies in your list. It is not just “a” job interview; it could be “The” job interview, one that could change your life. Congratulate yourself on the achievement! It is well-deserved. Then you can focus on a new challenge: answering the toughest job interview questions.

The job interview is a crucial stage in the employment process. An invitation means you have been pre-qualified for the job. Now the company wants to know more about you. Specifically, who you are; what your skills are and how you could contribute to the success of the company. The job interview questions lead to one defining question:

“Why Should We Hire You?”

In effect, this question frames the purpose of the interview: to find the best candidate for the job. A great performance in the job interview will move you further along the process. For many companies, the job interview will clinch you the position.

How To Answer The Toughest Job Interview Questions

If you leave the job interview either with feelings of regret or false pretenses, it only means one thing: you did not prepare enough or take the interview seriously.

When you get invited to an interview, this becomes your greatest opportunity for the moment. You have to prepare for it like you would for any other competition because that is exactly what it is. You are competing with others for the same position. If you are not preparing for it while others are, you will lose this opportunity.

Here are valuable tips on how to prepare and answer the toughest job interview questions:

#1. Research

The first step is to research about the company and find out as much as you can about their business. Read up on their company culture, the background of top management, company history, current and future business development plans. LinkedIn is a great place to do your research.

Wrap your head around all the information you have gathered so you can have a better idea on who the company is. This will help you frame your answers towards the interest of the company.

The company or recruiter would most certainly ask this question:

“What do you know of our company?”

The purpose of this question is to determine your degree of interest and level of commitment to land the job. It gives the interviewer an insight on how you approach responsibilities and challenges.

If you cannot answer this question to the satisfaction of the interviewer it will imply lack of organization, over-confidence and absence of foresight.

#2. Practice

Interviews are usually scheduled 3 days after the call was made. This should give you enough time to prepare. One of the most effective methods is to practice your answers to the toughest interview questions.

Interview questions are categorized as follows:

  • Personal Information. These types of questions are meant as an introduction. Here are a few of the more popular questions and how to answer them:
    • “Tell me something about yourself?” – Always include 1 or 2 traits that can be tied in to the demands of the job such as “I work well with a team” or “I relish important challenges and that’s why the organizations I’ve been with always ask me to lead.”
    • “How do you see yourself 5 years from now?” – Frame your answer to meet the interest of the company. Be confident but not arrogant. “In 5 years I see myself in a managerial position; definitely more capable, responsible and with the ability to confidently lead a productive department for the company.”
    • “Tell me about your greatest accomplishment?” – Give details; include names, dates, figures and relevant statistics. Let the interviewer know that you are narrating an event from the heart.
  • Behavioral Profiling. The interview uses behavioral profiling to get a glimpse of how you think; your ideals, principles, values and overall approach to decision-making. Some of the more common questions of this nature are as follows:
    • “What was your biggest failure?” Similar to your greatest accomplishment, give pertinent details. It does not have to be work related. Interviewers are looking for sincerity and vulnerability. Notice there is no follow-up, “And how did you deal with failure?” This is because they expect you to include that in your narration. It will give the interviewer an insight on how you view failure.
    • “How would you feel if in 5 years, you were still not promoted?” – The interviewer wants to see how you deal with disappointments; if you remain undeterred and motivated to succeed.A good answer would be, “If in 5 years I was not promoted, it will not deter me from attaining that objective. It is management’s decision to promote and it would seem I did not meet their standard. I will work to improve and get better because moving forward is the best way to stay ahead.”
    • “The person ahead of you was the best so far. We may end up hiring him/her instead of you.” This is not a question but a statement used by interviewers to assess the level of confidence of the candidate. It comes across as definitive and will sure garner reaction from anyone.The best answer would be to remain respectful but confident:“I respect your decision to consider the earlier candidate and I certainly wish him/her the best if he/she should clinch the job. However, the true test remains what the person can do on the job.

      I believe if given the opportunity, I can prove to you I am the best person for the job. Put me on the floor and I will outwork and outperform everyone.”

Be prepared if the interviewer throws in a brain teaser or questions related to your competencies. These are meant to get you off guard, test your logic and assess your ability to handle pressure. Google, for example, is known for asking the toughest interview questions.

#3. Stay Calm

A job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. But being nervous or overly anxious will only serve to make your situation worse. Yes, this is a crucial stage in the process and you made it. This means you were better than those who didn’t get the invitation. Take comfort in that; remain confident and stay calm during the interview:

  • If you are not sure you understood the question, ask the interviewer to repeat it or for clarification.
  • If you are not sure of your answer, think about it carefully. Do not rush through it. The interviewer will appreciate it that you chose to be meticulous rather than being careless.
  • Sit comfortably, maintain eye contact during the interview and don’t forget to smile once in a while.

Always be honest. If you do not know the answer, say so rather than fabricate the truth.

The interview gives you the stage to highlight your abilities and state why the company should hire you. Savor the moment and take advantage of the opportunity. Regardless of the result, you will always come out a better person because of the job interview.

Images: ” Planner with sticky note – Job interview   / Shutterstock.com

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Felix works with the virtual assistant company, OutsourceWorkers. He blogs about businesses and entrepreneurship. http://smartvirtualassistant.com.au/

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Comments
  • Some great tips here. I am a big fan of crowdsourcing to create content
    for my blogs.

  • Christina Giliberti

    Huge crowdsourcing fan! It also works to amplify posts, as those who feature, will share. A bit of a ’15 minutes of fame’ for them. Sage Ireland uses crowdsourcing extremely well.

  • I use crowd-sourcing all the time. I think we believe what others say about something, more than official reviews or information. Crowd-sourcing allows us to connect with “others” based on common interest 🙂

    Good tips here Tara

  • Crowdsourcing is important marketing tool for fostering customer engagement and obtaining their input and feedback. Some of the companies use crowdsourcing marketing to engage and empower their customers, and to encourage those customers to interact with their brand. Crowd-sourcing marketing when executed properly can have great results.

  • Thanks, Elaine. And I agree. I know for me that I believe more in what real people and consumers say about a product rather than an official review.

  • Yes, definitely! Social media marketing is an excellent way to crowdsource ideas or just to engage with the public and make your brand more visible.

  • Thanks for the great example, Christina! 🙂

  • 🙂 Catch me if you can!




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