Career Corner: Answering difficult interview questions

The journey to reaching your dream job will inevitably involve answering difficult interview questions. Interviews are a chance to show why you’re a good fit for the role by providing insights into your personality, skills and experiences. The process can be scary but you can address its challenges by preparing properly, which includes anticipating potential questions.

Some interview questions can seem pretty straight forward, such as “So tell me a little about yourself.” Other inquiries may be a little trickier, like “Why are you interested in this position in our organization?” When a question is phrased like this, the employer is actually asking two questions: why you’re interested in the position and why you’d like to work for that company.

One of the more difficult questions, which you’ve likely had to answer before, is the dreaded “What are some of your weaknesses?” When you hear this type of question, remember to take off your “mom goggles.” Mom goggles refers to how parents can only see the best in their kids and would never dare identify, let alone voice, any of their shortcomings to strangers. They also lead to exaggerations. For example, a parent may view their child acing a spelling test as equivalent to winning a national spelling bee.

You want to be honest and sincere with your answers. When you’re asked to identify your weaknesses, make sure it’s a real one that you’re able to thoroughly explain. The key is to include strategic details on how you plan to realistically improve or even turn this weakness into a strength.

An example of an excellent response is, “One of my shortcomings is that I tend to take on a lot of projects all at once, which can be a little overwhelming at times. I have been working on this weakness. Every day I write a list of things I need to get done in that day, and I keep a list of weekly, monthly and year goals that I have set for myself. This strategy has helped me to stay organized with various projects and understand what needs to get done daily and weekly to reach my long-term goals, while avoiding any feeling of being overwhelmed.”

Take some time prior to the interview to reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, past experiences, interest in the position and any potential questions you may be asked. If you’re prepared, you’re likely to appear calmer, as well as more confident, collected and self-reflective — all qualities that will increase your chances of being hired.

Leave a Reply