En Route: A Career Blog

Thorny questions an interviewer may ask – and how to answer them

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
CATEGORY: , , , ,
POSTED: December 29, 2009 at 10:43 am

During every interview, you’ll most likely be asked a question that throws you. You’ll start to sweat and may struggle for an answer. What comes out of your mouth may make you cringe at that point or later.

To avoid this, it’s best to be prepared for the unexpected. Here are some thorny questions you may be asked and tips on how to answer them:

1.      Who do you consider your best boss? Who do you consider the worst?

Take great care in answering. The interviewer is trying to determine if you’re angry at past employers for something that may very well be your fault and if you carry a grudge.

The appropriate answer would be that you learned something valuable from every boss you had and used it to better the company’s operations.

2.      What have you been doing since you were laid off?

Employers are wary of individuals with job gaps, even in this awful economy.

To allay the hiring manager’s fears you can detail activities you engaged in while also looking for a full-time (or part-time) position. These activities would include being a caretaker for someone in your family (eg: children, aging parents), learning a new skill (eg: technology) or engaging in freelance projects to pay the bills until you reached full employment again.

3.      What do you consider your greatest weakness?

Everyone has them and the hiring manager wants to determine if you have insight into your failings or if you’re so enamored of your strengths, you’re difficult to work with and refuse to learn from past errors in judgement.

In answering, don’t make the mistake of saying your weakness is that you work too hard. Employers have heard this countless times and few believe it. Instead, focus on a true negative (you’re a perfectionist) and turn it into a positive (eg: I don’t want to hold up schedules by triple-checking everything to make certain it’s perfect, so I’ve developed a process so that mistakes are avoided the first time around).

The above are a few of the many examples of questions you may be asked, which will prove difficult to answer – if you’re not prepared.

Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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