How to Prepare and Answer Those Tough Interview Questions

The big secret about job interviews, isn’t really a secret at all, it’s just common sense – be as prepared as you possibly can. This is the most basic and most important piece of advice about going into an interview, but there are of course those very tricky questions that interviewers like to ask; firstly to see how you handle yourself and second to hear what you have to say. As you will have prepared for the job interview, the only thing that you still have left to fear is the unknowable aspect – what are they going to ask? What tough questions are they going to ask? Here are some of the tougher questions that employers have asked – it should give you a better idea of what to expect and give you the possibility of preparing to answer them.

Question: Take me through your decision to change jobs.

This is a tough question because it is assessing the kind of person you are. If you take this question as a reason to go on a rant about how terrible your last company was, you will get nowhere. There are smart responses to this question such as, ‘It was a long commute.’ ‘I have advanced as much as I can within the company.’ ‘The company couldn’t offer job security.’ ‘I felt I was being underpaid for the work required of me.’

These answers demonstrate that you take your job, and your job progression seriously, and that you operate in a professional manner.

Question: What aspect of this job do you find least interesting?

This question might seem like a mine field but it really isn’t that bad. Be honest about the aspect that you find least interesting, but then go on to explain why it is important that it gets done, and how you plan on incorporating it into your work schedule. No matter what the job is, there will be at least one thing that you don’t like doing, take this as an opportunity to show how you are task orientated, and can get on with what needs to be done.

Question: What can you offer the company that another person can’t?

You have no way of knowing what other candidates will bring to the position, so this question is more about explaining what it is that makes you the best person for the job and the best person to fit into the working environment. Emphasize on your ability to finish projects, to take and give instructions and then turn the question around and ask how your qualities fit into what the company expects or needs.

Question: What decisions are difficult for you to make?

With this question you want to show that while you are not afraid to make difficult decisions, you will think them through with the appropriate criteria. You need to show that you will consider the consequences of the decisions you make, how they will affect other parts of the company, the finances etc. This is a chance for you to show that you know how to assess decisions and decision making processes.

Question: Are you expecting a promotion, and if so, when?

Use this question to your advantage by showing that you know what the criteria of promotion might be. Explain that you know that any promotion is based on how well you perform, but that you also hope that if you do prove yourself that there is sufficient growth opportunity for you in the company.

Richard McMunn is a writer for How2become; a leading career and recruitment specialist for public sector careers. For the last 8 years How2become has helped numerous people prepare for and pass tough recruitment processes and assessment centers in order to secure their dream job. You can also connect with How2become on Google Plus

10 Traits of the Best Interviewer Ever

Reposted from: Things Career Related, A Practical Look at the Job Search

As I read articles on the five traits employers look for in the ideal job candidate and others like it, I think about what traits the  ideal  interviewer would demonstrate in the hiring process. Interviewer/s typically hold all the cards in the hiring processes, but who’s to say the interviewer shouldn’t claim some responsibility for the success of hiring the most qualified person for the job?

According to an article from, a whopping 69% of employers say they hire people who aren’t qualified to do the job or aren’t a fit. Furthermore, employers are losing humongous sums of money because of their poor hiring decisions, as much as %25,000-$50,000 per bad hire. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t bode well for employers’ hiring strategies and, more specifically, how they interview and choose the wrong candidates.

Interviewing people for a position isn’t the easiest thing to do, nor is it the most pleasurable part of a job according to most hiring managers I’ve asked. I didn’t particularly like it myself, but it was a necessity. Who is the best interviewer ever? He or she has the following 7 characteristics:

  1. She’s prepared from the beginning. The success of an interview depends a great deal on whether the interviewer has taken the time to prepare for the big event. This means identifying the skills and experience she seeks in the candidates, as well as recognizing the weaknesses she wants to avoid. She prepares answers in advanced and doesn’t rush around asking people in the office what interview questions she should ask five minutes prior to the interview.
  2. Doesn’t care that the candidates are nervous. Some jobseekers don’t interview well, but that doesn’t mean they can’t excel at the duties of the job. It’s a totally different matter if they’re not prepared for the interview or commit all of the faux pas described in the hundreds of published books and online articles.
  3. Asks the candidates relevant questions. These would include questions that were well thought out, not ones that the interviewer read from a book, or questions that were devised three years ago by Human Resources that meet requirements for previous HMs.
  4. Asks tough questions that get to the core of the candidates. Most employers would agree that besides the questions that determine someone’s technical abilities, behavioral-based/motivation-based questions are the best at predicting how the candidates will perform in the future, based on past behaviors and their motivation to overcome obstacles.
  5. Interviews candidates for a job that exists. This isn’t necessarily the interviewer’s fault; the company may advertise an opening unsure of necessarily funding, only to tell the candidates they aren’t going forward with the position. Or the company plans to go with an inside candidate and is holding the interview for appearance sake. This is a waste of time for everyone involved and a letdown for expectant candidates. This is plain wrong.
  6. Interviews candidates for the correct position. The best interviewer ever doesn’t interview candidates for a position that has different requirements and skills than advertised in the job posting. Many of my customers have told me they prepared for the ideal job only to find out the requirements were beyond their reach, making them obviously unfit for the position. A big waste of time.
  7.  Doesn’t ask illegal questions. “How old are you?” one of my customers was asked during a phone interview. Other illegal questions include: what country are you from? Do you have any children? Are you taking medication? The best interviewer ever will refrain from asking questions about race, color, sex, religion, national origin, birthplace, age, disability, and marital/family status, etc.
  8. He doesn’t make a decision based on appearance. I once worked for someone who hired very young, attractive woman; and the running joke was that he was a “dirty old man.” This makes one wonder if many qualified people were passed over because they didn’t meet his appearance standards. The best interviewer ever will disregard appearance and focus on technical and personality fit, ultimately hiring people who are right for the job, not better suited for modeling.
  9. She provides feedback if a rejected candidate asks. This is a tough one because a few candidates might cry foul play or press the best interviewer ever for more details. However, many of my jobseekers simply want to know how they can do better at the next interview, nothing more. I applaud an interviewer who will provide critique on how a candidate answered certain questions, what skills they lacked, or if they wouldn’t be a personality fit for the company (there is such thing).

As mentioned earlier, making great hiring decisions is not as easy as people would think, ergo the 69% of hiring managers who make wrong hiring decisions at one point or more in their career. But if said interviewers consider their goal of hiring the best candidate, they must think not only of themselves but rather consider how best to get the necessary information from the people they’re considering hiring.

Oh, lastly, 10. He sends a rejection letter. A little bit of courtesy will go a long way.

How to Not Follow Up After A Job Interview

Reposted from: The Ladders

By Lisa Vaas

If you can craft an intelligent letter or e-mail to follow up after a job interview, it could be the tipping point that pushes you into the job candidate finalist category.

“The thank-you note remains one of the most overlooked marketing tools of the job search,” said Stephanie Daniel, vice president and group program manager at Keystone Associates, a career-management and transition services consultancy.

And then there’s the not-so-well-crafted message, which can put you, the job seeker, in the “loser” category. A number of professionals on the receiving end of follow-up e-mail, snailmail, FedEx packages, singing telegrams and other communications shared with us this rogues’ gallery of infamously inappropriate follow-ups. They caution readers: Do not to try this at home.

The monologist

Heather Krasna, an expert in public-sector executive jobs, tells of a client who left a long-winded thank-you message on an executive’s voicemail, directly reading from the thank-you letter she was going to send.

“This was just weird from the employer’s perspective and came across as too intense or desperate as well as an inappropriate use of voicemail,” Krasna said. “She would have been better off had she just mailed a thank-you note.”

The unprofessional e-mailer

Carl Gould, Chief Discovery Officer at business mentoring firm CMT Mentors, told us about one job applicant who used a personal e-mail address that referenced a side job as a part-time clown. “Needless to say, we filtered that one into the garbage rather quickly,” Gould said.

The aggressive ones

Scott R. Gingold, CEO of Powerfeedback, has had follow-ups come via Twitter, LinkedIn, FedEx, snailmail, fax, Web site and at business events. They can get creepy regardless of the medium. His personal rogues’ gallery features:

  • Being invited to a sporting event by an applicant who doesn’t know him
  • Having female candidates be sexually suggestive
  • Multiple phone calls after he’s told the job seeker not to call
  • Daily e-mail after he’s told applicants to stop
  • Being told in a letter that he reminds an applicant of a deceased relative

The angry guy

Krasna had a “horrific” experience years ago in which a job candidate, still in school, sent an angry e-mail to a recruiter because he didn’t get the job. The job seeker said he was “glad he didn’t get the job because he wouldn’t have wanted to work for the company anyway,” Krasna said, and then “complimented” the recruiter on her figure.

“Needless to say, this e-mail was forwarded along to the college career center, and the student was informed that he would no longer be allowed to use our career services,” she said. “It was a while before the college’s reputation would be recovered at that company!”

The cranky guy

Thomas Tuft, an attorney with Tuft & Arnold Law Offices, in Maplewood, Minn., once had a law student send a “very cranky letter” after the firm hadn’t responded to his resume submission within a week. Mind you, this was at a time when the firm wasn’t hiring. “It is not our practice to respond to the dozens of resumes we receive unsolicited,” Tuft said. “That student will never be hired here.”

The casually sloppy

While the preceding are all somewhat spectacularly bad follow-ups, Krasna pointed out that people often hurt their chances simply by not using good grammar and spelling in their communications. “Taking the time to write a careful thank-you note that touches on all the reasons you want to work for the organization, as well as how you would be a perfect fit for them, will make you stand apart in a more positive way,” she noted.

Lisa Vaas covers resume writing techniques and the technology behind the job search for TheLadders.