A considerable shift is occurring in the job placement market. By 2025, 75 percent of the global workforce will consist of millennials. Thirty percent of the global workers are actively looking for a new job. Seventy-four percent of workers in 2016 were open to making a job move. From 2014-2024, almost 10 million jobs will be created.
The average job posting draws approximately 250 applicants. Only two percent of all job applicants will make it to the interview stage. On average, most interview processes take about 23 days. Sixty-five percent of recruiters claim that the biggest hurdle in hiring is talent shortage.
With the job market changing rapidly over the next several years, and with competition for jobs becoming fierce, how can you set yourself apart in a job interview? More than likely, your interviewer will throw some difficult interview questions your way to see how you respond. Will you freeze? Will you talk endlessly? Will you give answers that could back you into a corner?
With any job interview, be prepared. Practice interview questions ahead of time. Get a good night’s sleep before the big day. Arrive early. During the interview, don’t give vague answers. Be honest. Listen to each question. Ask for clarification if you need it. Answer completely.
And, don’t let thorny questions cause you to fumble. Here are ten tricky interview questions and how to respond.
1. Why do you want to work for our company?
Most interviewees answer this question incorrectly. For example, you may describe the positive traits of the company, and not explain why you want to join the team. The interviewer knows facts about the company. They want to see if you’ve done your research. Understand what the company does and where it’s going. Explain why you would like to be hired. Is it the products? Is it new technology? Is it potential for growth? Tell them what resonates with you about the company. Stay away from generic answers.
2. Why did you leave your last position?
This can be an uncomfortable question if you have gaps in your employment history or you left your last job under not-so-great circumstances. Be honest. You may have left your previous position because of a layoff. Or you had children. Discuss cultural fit or new directions. Don’t feel guilty about your explanation.
3. Tell me about a difficult situation you handled.
Employers want to explore your problem-solving abilities. Can you think critically? Can you succeed under pressure? Discuss a challenging work situation that you handled and explain how you approached it. Emphasize the positive outcome and talk about your takeaways. What did you learn from this situation? How did you grow?
4. Tell me about one of your most significant accomplishments.
Talk about a recent achievement that portrays you positively. What is something that you’re proud of accomplishing? Did you lead a team of co-workers on a successful project? Did you get your graduate degree while you worked full-time? Did you run a marathon? Describe the details of your achievement, and why accomplishing it made you proud.
5. What is your biggest weakness?
This is a tried and true tricky question. Don’t use clichés, like I’m a workaholic. Or I’m a perfectionist. Instead, describe something you’ve struggled with, what steps you’ve taken to deal with it, and what results you’ve achieved by acknowledging your weakness. Employers are confirming that not only are you aware of some of your weaknesses but that you’ve taken steps to correct them. Highlight your problem-solving abilities.
For example, say, “When I work on a project, I get hung up on the minute details of the issues and begin micro-managing. I realize this type of control causes issues with other team members and slows the project down. Now I focus on the end-result while giving team members an opportunity to create mini-deadlines during the project. This keeps the project moving and satisfies my need for details.”
6. What is your biggest strength?
Like the “biggest weakness” question, the biggest strength question is also common. Before you interview, prepare a list of your strengths. Tie each strength to a professional achievement. Keep your answers short and connect your strengths to the position for which you’re applying.
7. How would you describe yourself?
Describe yourself honestly and authentically. Are you results or goal oriented? Are you self-determined? Are you a team player? Are you a rainmaker? Give specifics or examples of how you fit these roles.
8. What frustrations did you have in your last position?
Don’t tell your interviewer that you didn’t have any frustrations. And don’t jump into negative stories about past co-workers or bosses. All jobs have their share of frustrations. Describe an obstacle and what you did to overcome it.
9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
An employer is curious to see if you plan to stay with the company. Don’t fall into the trap of saying, I’d like to go back to school full-time. Or I plan on working from home in my freelance business. It’s expensive to hire and train new employees. Your potential employer wants to know that you’re committed to the position and the company. Your interviewer also wants to see that you’re self-motivated and that you have a desire to continue learning. Describe how you’re committed to your particular field and how you’d like to advance within that field.
10. Why should we hire you?
Match the job requirements to your skills, strengths, and desires. Explain that if that match exists, then you would be an excellent fit for the position.
Being prepared for an interview, including any tricky interview questions, is crucial. After you’ve prepared and practiced, don’t forget to connect with your interviewer. Keep a conversational tone. Let the interviewer control the questions. Pause when answering. And don’t forget to relax. An interview is your opportunity to shine and demonstrate how you’re the best person for the job.