Interviews are stressful – you want to make the best possible impression. Whether you’re interviewing for your dream job or just looking to learn more about a potential position, there’s no denying that interviews can be intimidating.
There are some questions that most people dread when going into an interview. While it’s easy to knock easy questions out of the park, some questions can be complex, awkward, or difficult to answer. We’ll break down some tips on how to answer tough interview questions and how to stay calm and confident in an interview.
Common Interview Questions that People Struggle With
There are some frequently asked interview questions that tend to trip people up. If you’re looking for advice to prepare for difficult questions, look no further.
Generally speaking, the best course of action is, to be honest when answering any interview question. You want to find a job that best fits your work style and personality, and the company wants to find someone that best fits their culture, values, work style, and the position of course.
Being honest ensures not only that you don’t get caught in a lie (which would be embarrassing and probably cost you the position) and that both sides get the best information to make an informed choice about hiring or accepting a job.
“What’s Your Greatest Weakness?”
Knowing how to answer “what’s your greatest weakness?” in a job interview is a common dilemma for job seekers. You don’t want to share negative qualities about yourself and hurt your chances of getting the job, but you still have to answer the question.
Some people try to use this as a chance to humblebrag, like answering that you “care too much” or you’re a “perfectionist”. We don’t recommend this path – everyone has weaknesses, so trying to spin the answer to seem like you don’t can come off as disingenuine.
To prepare for this question, come up with a weakness that is honest without revealing anything too negative. When you tell them your weakness, you can also describe how you’re working towards overcoming it.
“What’s Your Greatest Strength?”
The flip side of the greatest weakness question is your greatest strength, which can also give people trouble. You may have a hard time deciding what your greatest strength is, or feel uncomfortable talking about yourself in this manner. Provide an answer that is accurate and tailored towards the position you’re applying for.
“Why Should We Hire You?”
Some people have a hard time bragging about themselves, so it can feel uncomfortable to answer questions such as “why should we hire you?” Remember that an interview is a time to brag – if you really believe that you deserve the position and would do a good job, just explain why!
“Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”
This might not be a tough question if you left on great terms – just be totally honest. The trouble with this question comes when you’ve left a job on bad terms, whether you were fired, let go, or had conflict at work. As a general rule of thumb, don’t trash talk a former company or job in an interview. Even if you were in the right, it won’t reflect well on you, and your interviewer may think that you’ll speak badly of their company in the future.
If you don’t want to discuss the unfortunate details of how you left a former position, we recommend saying that you were interested in a career change or wanted to work somewhere with more opportunities for growth. If you want to tell the interviewer that you had a bad experience, do so in a way that is graceful and not disparaging towards your former employer.
“What Salary Are You Expecting?”
This is a difficult question. If there wasn’t a salary range provided on the job description, it can be tough to ballpark what you may be paid. Guessing too low could result in you getting paid less than you deserve, while guessing too high may make you look too demanding or hurt your chance of getting a job offer.
Research average salaries for the position you’re interviewing for ahead of time so that you have a decent idea of what you may be offered. If you don’t want to answer with a number, say something along the lines of “competitive pay for this type of position” or that you’d like to be paid equally to employees on the same level.
“Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?”
It’s hard to say where you’ll be in five years, but usually, when interviewers ask this question, they’re looking for ambition. If you’re interested in growing at this company, say so! Most companies are looking for candidates that will be a long-term investment, so expressing interest in growing with the company, if applicable, is a good answer.
Usually, businesses won’t want to hire someone who plans on leaving after only one year. If this job is just a stepping stone for you, don’t say so directly.
“Why Do You Want This Job?”
Assuming that you do, indeed, want the job, simply be honest! Tell them about your interest in the company’s mission, values, culture, or how excited you are about the specific position. This question can help show off the fact that you did your research ahead of time and know a lot about the company. Show off your enthusiasm here so that the interviewer knows you’re really interested.
“Tell Me About Yourself”
As simple as this question seems, many people struggle with it. We recommend preparing an elevator pitch – a few short sentences that you have semi-memorized (without sounding scripted) to tell about yourself. Cover things your job experience, education, career goals, and big-picture professional interests.
Check out example elevator pitches for ideas on what to discuss. You can also tailor this answer to best fit the position you’re interviewing for; if you’re applying for a marketing job, it’s a good idea to mention that you’re interested in a career in marketing.