INTERVIEWS / NOV. 10, 2015
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The Answers to 10 Tricky Job Interview Questions

If you’re seeking a new job, you might prepare for an interview by coming up with good responses to commonly asked interview questions. But no matter how prepared you are for a job interview, the employer might ask a tricky question that stumps you. Hesitating or providing a less-than-stellar answer won’t necessarily ruin your chances of getting the job. But given the competition, every answer you give needs to impress the employer.

See Also: The Craziest Interview Questions Ever Asked

Here are a few effective responses to tricky interview questions.

1. "You've Had Several Jobs in Recent Years, Why Should I Hire You?"

If you’ve had multiple jobs in the past couple of years, an employer might think you’re fickle and won’t stay with the company long term. If possible, don’t address the job hopping. Instead, focus on the actual question – why should I hire you?

You can tell the employer that you’ve gained a lot of valuable experience from your previous jobs. As a result, you feel that you’re a better employee and you’re looking to build a long-term relationship with a company that can utilize your skills and offer room for advancement.

2. "I See That You've Never Received a Promotion, Why Is This?"

If you worked with your last employer for a while and never received a promotion, the interviewer may think you lack the necessary skills to move ahead in your career. If your previous employer was a small company, you can tell the interviewer that the company had a small staff and many long-term employees, so there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to advance and move into new positions. You can also take this opportunity to toot your own horn. You can say, “if one of my coworkers had moved to another job, I do feel that my previous employer would have offered me the job based on my positive performance views.” Of course, only make this statement if it’s true.

3. "What Position What You Like to Hold in the Next Five Years?"

If you hesitate, give a blank stare or say “I don’t know,” the interview will know that you haven’t thought about this question. As a result, he might conclude that you have no career direction, which means you might move onto a new job in six months or one year. In most cases, interviewers are looking for long-term placement. To answer this question, you could say, “I’ve done my research on your company, and I’m hoping to build a long-term career here. There seems to be opportunity for growth and I’m looking to expand my career.”

4. "What Would Your Last Employer Say is Your Biggest Weakness?"

It’s important that you’re completely honest when answering this question. But at the same time, you don’t want to reveal a weakness that can potentially ruin your chances of getting the job. For example, if your biggest weakness is meeting deadlines, and this company takes pride in keeping everything on schedule, this could be a deal breaker. So it’s important to answer this question carefully. Additionally, provide an explanation for how you compensate for this weakness. If your weakness is spending too much time on assignments because you’re a perfectionist, you can explain to the employer that you’ve started giving yourself time limits to ensure you stay on track.

5. "Why is There a Gap in Your Employment History?"

If you’re reentering the workforce after taking several months or years off, the employer will want to know why. If you were a stay-at-home parent, tell the interviewer you felt it was important to spend the first few years at home with your child. Or maybe you took time off because you wanted to explore other interests, travel or start a business. Whatever the reason, be honest. At the same time, build the interviewer’s confidence and explain that you’ve kept up-to-date with changes in your industry.

6. "How Many Hours are You Available a Week?"

If you desperately need a job, you might say you can work as many hours as the employer needs you. But you have to be honest with yourself and the interviewer. Some jobs demand a lot of time and attention. If you’re looking for a healthy work-life balance or a traditional 9 to 5 schedule, make this clear during the interview. Or else, you might run into problems down the road.

Even if you’re looking for a traditional work schedule, you can tell the interviewer that you might be available for the occasional overtime if the company is backlogged and needs to meet a deadline. This demonstrates you’re a team player and willing to go the extra mile, while letting the interviewer know your limits.

7. "Why Were You Terminated from Your Job?"

If you were unfairly fired from your last job, you might be ready to rip your former employer to shreds. Just know that this doesn’t look good on your part. Be honest, don’t make excuses and own up to your mistakes. Give a reason without bashing your previous employer.

8. "What Would You Change About Your Current (or Old) Job?"

job interview

Again, don’t fall into this trap of bashing your former employer. Even if your current job is terrible and you hate the people you work with, keep it positive and professional. You want to play this answer safe. Instead of saying that your employer is rude or overly demanding, think of other factors you dislike. Maybe the company has outdated technology which makes it difficult to complete your work, or maybe you currently work for a small company and there’s no room for advancement.

9. "What Can You Tell Me About Yourself?"

This might seem like a simple question, but it’s vague. If you’re nervous, you might start rambling for several minutes telling the interviewer things he doesn’t want to hear. It’s okay to come prepared with a canned answer. You don’t want to regurgitate everything on your resume or cover letter, and you’ll want to stay away from stuff unrelated to the position. This includes your hobbies, favorite color, and your complete life story. In one or two sentences, briefly tell the employer what you studied, the type of job you’re looking for, and how you can benefit the company.

10. "What are Your Earning Expectations?"

Ideally, you don’t want to bring up salary expectations until you know what the company is willing to pay. But sometimes, the interviewer will directly ask about your salary expectations. It’s a catch-22 situation. If your expectations exceed what the company is willing to pay, you might shoot yourself in the foot. But if you ask for too little money, you might shortchange yourself.

Rather than give a number, research average salary ranges for the position in your area and give a range. Let the employer know that you’re open to negotiations based on the level of responsibility and challenges.

See Also: How to Handle the Good Cop, Bad Cop Interview Game

Job interviewers will ask a variety of easy and tough questions. Most people can ace an easy question—it’s their responses to tricky questions that decide whether they move onto the next stage of the interview process. A job interview can be nerve-racking and overwhelming. If you learn how to respond, you have a good chance of getting your foot in the door.

What was the trickiest job interview question you have ever been asked? Let us know below…

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