Job interviews are getting tougher because hiring managers have more applicants to sift through. So, they need to separate the good from the bad as quickly as possible. We’ve rounded up some of the toughest job interview questions – and how to answer them:
“What skills are you lacking?” Hiring managers will ask this one instead of asking “What’s your biggest weakness?” This helps avoid hearing a show-off answer like, “I’m a perfectionist.” So, here’s how to answer that, according to Linked In career expert Nicole Williams. Be honest but positive. So, you might say, “I’m working on my time management skills. I found that projects took longer than I estimated – so now I’m more realistic about what I can do in a certain time frame.” The key is to mention something that’s not a deal breaker, but to show you’re self-aware, you know where your faults lie, and you’re working on fixing them.
“Tell me what you felt was unfair in your last job.” That can be a landmine – because it could lead someone to bash their former employer. But the president of HR That Works, Don Phin, says “If they say nothing, they’re lying.” Yet a hiring manager also doesn’t want to hear, “Oh man, where do I begin?” That’ll just make you look like a problem employee who shifts the blame and can’t own up to their own mistakes. So mention a problem without dwelling on it, then focus on how you went about resolving the issue. Or if you simply forgave the situation, let it go and moved on.
“Which past manager liked you the least? And if I call them, what will they say about you?” Look, hiring managers aren’t dummies. They know if you give someone as a reference, it’s because they’re going to sing your praises. Be honest – not everyone liked you and that’s okay. They key is to be self-aware and talk about your shortcomings, without putting yourself down too much. You also need to be straightforward about what you LEARNED from the situation. So, maybe you say something like, “I was fired from my job as a junior manager because, frankly, I didn’t take the job seriously enough. But that taught me a huge lesson about responsibility. And at my next job, I was so thorough and diligent that I got promoted to senior manager within six months.”
“How long are you willing to fail at this job before you succeed?” That one comes from Jon Sterling, the co-founder of Interview Circuit – a company that interviews applicants on behalf of other businesses. Mr. Sterling says he asks that to see how the person reacts. And there are a few right ways to answer, and some wrong ways. The wrong way would be, “I’ll fail as long as you’ll let me,” or “I don’t know, a few months? What do you think?” So, what’s the right way to answer? Try this: “I’m willing to stick with this job for as long as it takes to succeed.” That shows you have determination. This is another good answer: “I plan to fail as quickly as possible so I can learn from my mistakes and move on.” That shows you’re not afraid to fail and that you know failing is a learning experience.