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.)

IN PICTURES: 7 Interview Don'ts

  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.

IN PICTURES: 6 Hot Careers With Lots Of Jobs

  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.

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    The Best Answers to 4 Tough Interview Questions

    The best way to handle a job interview is to be prepared. Here are four tough questions you may receive, and how best to answer them.
  2. Budgeting

    Lost Your Job? 6 Things to Do Immediately

    If you’ve lost your job, shoring up your finances as best you can will make it easier to get back on your feet again when that next position rolls around.
  3. Professionals

    Broker Or Trader: Which Career Is Right For You?

    Both brokers and traders buy and sell securities, but there are some subtle differences between the two careers.
  4. Personal Finance

    Don't Sign That Non-Compete Without Reading This

    Non-compete contracts aren't just for high-level execs these days. How to protect yourself if your employer – or prospective employer – insists you sign one.
  5. Professionals

    Financial Career Options For Professionals

    A career in finance can take a business professional down many different paths.
  6. FA

    The Basics of The Series 79 Exam

    Passing the Series 79 exam is usually necessary for anyone who wants to work in investment banking.
  7. Professionals

    10 Steps To A Career In Hedge Funds

    The first step to getting your hedge fund career started is to be sure you really want to work for a hedge fund. If you do, it’ll show in your actions.
  8. Professionals

    Business Analyst: Job Description & Average Salary

    Learn the different types of business analyst careers available; understand the skills and education needed and the salary you can expect to make.
  9. Entrepreneurship

    How To Make Money With Domain Names

    Domain names are hot commodities in today’s tech-centric world, and for good reason.
  10. Professionals

    How To Get A Job On Wall Street

    Although Wall Street has its share of problems, finding people who want to become traders isn’t one of them.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What are the most common interview questions for banking / finance jobs?

    Interviews for banking and finance positions are notoriously tough. Interviewees can expect all the questions from a normal ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Does a financial advisor need an MBA?

    Obtaining a license as a financial adviser does not require an Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The Certified ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How can an investment banker switch to a career in corporate finance?

    It's pretty easy for an investment banker to switch to a career in corporate finance. The career skills are easily transferable, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do I get started with a career in asset management?

    The asset management industry has a variety of different career paths. Depending on what asset management area you would ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. For which kind of jobs is having Magnum Cum Laude most important?

    Having a magna cum laude degree is most important for jobs in the fields of finance, management consulting and engineering. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Other than accounting, what does a corporate finance job involve?

    While a corporate finance job almost always involves accounting in some capacity, there are many additional job duties and ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  2. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  3. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
  4. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
  5. Ponzimonium

    After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
  6. Quarterly Earnings Report

    A quarterly filing made by public companies to report their performance. Included in earnings reports are items such as net ...
Trading Center