5 Tough Interview Questions And How To Answer Them

By Fabulously Broke | December 17, 2010 AAA

Interviews can be nerve-wracking because you never know what to expect. Every company and recruiter has their own methods of evaluating potential job candidates, so to help you out in your next interview, here are some tough questions for which you'll want to be prepared. (For more, see 7 Things You Should Say In An Interview.)

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  1. What is your biggest weakness?
    It can be really tricky to answer what your biggest weakness is. You don't want to be so frank that they crumple your resume and throw it into the wastebasket, but you also don't want to lie or say you don't have any flaws. The easiest answer is to pick an honest weakness of yours that can be fixed and how you are currently improving yourself.
    Example Answer:
    Being impatient. I tend to want to get things done quickly and efficiently, so when I don't get a fast answer, or if others are delaying the process, I tend to lose patience. I am working on this by acknowledging others are busy and allowing people more time to get back to me, with friendly, periodic reminders if I think they've forgotten.

  2. What has been your biggest failure?
    As with the question about your biggest weakness, you want to highlight a real failure, but also provide what you have learned and what you did to try and mitigate the failure.
    Example Answer:
    My biggest failure was when I lost a half a million dollar deal because I wasn't prepared enough to impress them, compared to my competitors. After I heard the news, I called the company back and managed to win some of the business back by sweetening the deal. I didn't get all of the $500,000, but I now have a checklist of everything I would need to have prepared the next time.

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  1. Why should I/we hire you?
    The answer for why a company should hire you can also come in a form of: what can you do for us that others can't? The worst answers to give are the ones that talk about what the company can do for you, rather than the reverse. Don't say you want to move into the city or you need a job, any job. What you want to highlight to the interviewer is what you as a valued employee can do for them and to leave the interviewer with some quantifiable takeaways about your performance.
    Example Answer:
    You should hire me as a salesperson because I am a hard worker with proven experience in the carpet industry. I will be an asset to your company because in the past five years, I've brought in $50 million dollars of revenue for my previous employer while managing a sales team of five people. (For more, check out Taking The Lead In The Interview Dance.)

  2. Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
    This question is tricky because you don't want to paint yourself as a lone wolf, but you also don't want to come off as too reliant on a team. The best answer is a balance of both, where you illustrate that in certain situations you prefer to work alone, but in general you are always a team player at heart.
    Example Answer:
    When the task requires only one person, I like to work alone and then to go to my team and ask for feedback so I can improve my work product. Similarly, if the task is too big for one person to handle, I like to work in a team and to share the tasks fairly among us. If a team member can't complete something on time, I don't mind stepping in to help out because we all succeed or fail as a team, not as individuals. (Learn more in What Not To Say In A Job Interview.)

  3. Do you feel you are overqualified or underqualified for this job?
    For any question that has both pros and cons to each answer, choose the middle ground. List out a skill or quality where you feel overqualified and counteract it with another where you feel under qualified.
    Example Answer:
    When it comes to experience in the industry, I feel overqualified for the job role, but as it is in a different department and in another role that I am not very familiar with, I feel under qualified in that respect.

The Bottom Line
Keep in mind that we are all our worst critics. Even if you think you may have screwed up the interview, your impression may not be the same as theirs. Stay calm, take time to formulate a good answer, practice beforehand and know your resume inside and out. You will feel less nervous, the more prepared you are and interviewers do understand that every job interview comes with a certain amount of nervousness and pressure. (To learn more, see No Wonder You're Not Getting Hired.)

For the latest financial news, see Water Cooler Finance: FBI Insider-Trading Bust.

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