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How to Answer Difficult Interview Questions

March 9, 2018

How to Answer Difficult Interview Questions


Interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences for even the most confident person; after all, you are trying to convince someone to hire you. It is possible that, at some point during the process, you will encounter a tricky question that throws you off your game. In order to avoid a moment of panic mid-interview, check out some of the most common difficult questions and how to address them.


“Tell Me About Yourself”

At first, this may seem like an easy one because who knows you better than you? Be cautious, though; an interviewer doesn’t want a summary of your resume, nor do they want your entire life story. They are seeking information that may not be conveyed on your application that is still relevant to the job. Find a way to relate your hobbies, interests, and experiences to the position that you are interviewing for. 


“Describe a Past Conflict”

In the midst of trying to prove you are the right candidate for the job, conflict is probably the last thing you want to think about. This is an important question for interviewers, however, because they need to know how you will handle any future conflicts that you may encounter. Phil, a hiring expert from Merck, explains, “What I'm really trying to learn from this question is how candidates navigate and work through difficult situations or difficult people. I don't really think there is one answer that employers are ‘looking for’; we really want to learn more about your way of working — do you avoid conflict at all costs? Do you work to mediate disagreements between co-workers?” 1 Keep in mind, you don’t necessarily need to give an example from previous jobs as long as you clearly demonstrate your ability to problem-solve and work with others. You can use a situation from school, a club or organization you were a member of, or a personal situation.


Something Out of Left Field

So you’ve made it to the end of the interview and aced all the questions about your qualifications and why you want the job when the interviewer asks you a completely random question that doesn’t appear to be related to the job, the company, or the industry. These are usually designed to see how quick you are on your feet. Rachael, a hiring expert from Merck, says, “The interviewer may ask you questions outside of the normal behavioral type, such as ‘If you were a color, what color would you be?’ or ‘If you could meet someone from the past, who would it be and why?’ These are to learn more about how you think on the spot and get a better understanding of your interests and personality.” 2 The most important things to remember when you face one of these is that there is usually no right answer; the interviewer just wants to see how you think. Just take a deep breath, collect your thoughts, and speak confidently.


While these tips can be extremely helpful when preparing for an interview, keep in mind that it is always better to sound authentic during an interview. Your interviewers will be able to tell if you are giving rehearsed answers, and those usually just end up sounding awkward. As long as you are confident in yourself and your preparation, you should have no problem answering any question that may be thrown at you.



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