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Tough Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

June 25, 2019

Job interviews are notoriously nerve-racking. They’re often riddled with questions that seem impossible or too awkward to answer. Perplexing questions can heighten anxiety and stress, making it difficult for interviewees to perform well. Of course, interviews are standard in most employers’ hiring processes, and the very purpose of challenging questions is to see how candidates perform under pressure. Yet, for new jobseekers including university students and recent graduates with little interview experience, these questions may be unfamiliar. If you’re new to job hunting, find out how to prepare for the trickiest interview questions below.

What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

This is a difficult question to answer. A thorough response requires a healthy balance of honesty, humility and strength. Moreover, it’s important to answer it without undermining your own abilities. The best way to achieve this is by:

  1. Not working around the question (i.e., stating that you don’t believe you have any weakness)
  2. Answering the question sincerely
  3. Being honest but positive about your greatest weakness
  4. Stating your intent to improve upon, overcome, or work with your weakness

By elaborating on stating your intent to improve your weakness, you’ll also demonstrate dedication to honing your skills and abilities.

Were You Ever Involved in a Conflict with a Boss or Co-Worker? If So, How Did You Handle It?

Some work environments can be tough, and every employer knows this. Therefore, they often question potential employees’ ability to work well with others in spite of conflict. The ability to overcome adversity demonstrates strength, resilience, and strong conflict resolution. To showcase these qualities in yourself, simply focus on a conflict that was handled and ultimately resolved.

If you blame others or downplay the conflict, you may come across as unwilling to address challenges head-on. Impress your interviewer by choosing a meaningful example that highlights your resourcefulness or personal growth. College students or recent graduates might even describe a challenge outside a work environment, such as finding St. Catharines student housing or living with roommates. Additionally, use the STAR technique to enhance your response: (S-T) start with a certain tough Situation or Task that caused conflict, (A) highlight the Action you took to resolve this conflict, and (R) state the Results achieved.

Tell Us About Yourself

At first, this question seems easy to answer. However, because it is open-ended, many candidates find themselves rambling a bit. There’s not enough time during an interview to tell your life story, so try to make your answer concise. A two-minute account of your career interests and studies should be enough to show the interviewer where your passions and priorities lie. Just remember to be as specific: choose a detail about yourself or your life that bears significance to the position and the organization.

What is Your Desired Salary?

The question about salary isn’t necessarily challenging, but it can be awkward. Salary negotiations tend to make candidates feel desperate, greedy, or money-focused. Yet, this doesn’t have to be the case. Keep in mind that you’ll be getting paid to do a job, and that you deserve the fairest salary for doing so. This is a normal part of the hiring process, and going in prepared can help you alleviate any nervousness. Do some research. Learn the fair market value of your role, including:

  • What’s the average salary for an entry-level position?
  • How much does the company pay for this position?
  • How much does the market pay?
  • What is considered a competitive salary?
  • What’s the high end and low end?

To minimize any awkwardness with salary negotiations, be confident and let the potential employer lead the conversation. Resist the urge to give a specific number. Instead, present a salary range that includes numbers above and below the median salary for the position.

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