How to Ace the Trickiest Interview Questions

By JobTonic

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If there’s one thing every jobseeker hates, it’s the Interview process. No matter your age, experience level or industry, interviews can be intimidating. Adequate preparation for these meetings can help improve your chances for success. But preparation can be difficult when interviewers ask tricky questions.

It’s relatively simple to formulate answers for the basic, common questions hiring managers ask, but what about the complicated behavioral style questions? These types of questions are difficult to anticipate, and they typically require an event-specific answer. Preparation will require you to have a good understanding of the underlying purpose of these questions, so you can formulate an answer based on your own personal experience and past mistakes.

How You Handle Conflict in the Workplace (i.e. Your Interpersonal Skills)

Employers want to learn more about how your interpersonal skills, and more importantly, how you handle conflict in the workplace. Conflicts are inevitable, so an employer wants to see that you can resolve the matter in a professional manner.

Common questions that fall under this category:

Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a manager/boss.
Tell me about a time when you had to handle a conflict with a difficult client.

These questions are, more or less, trying to gauge your behavior in difficult, emotional situations.

Brevity is best when answering these types of questions. Start by focusing on a positive, and briefly discuss the conflict without dwelling on the unpleasant moment. End your response by discussing how you resolved the issue and what you learned from it. Again, always try to frame your answer in a positive way.

Your Weaknesses that Led to Professional Mistakes (i.e. Your Failures)

Hiring managers may also ask you to explain a situation during which your actions resulted in a failure of some kind, be it individual or team-related.

Tell me about a time when your actions caused your team to miss their goals.

Questions about your weaknesses can be difficult to answer because you risk not only exposing character flaws, but the (potentially serious) mistakes that you’ve made in the past. Avoid giving the interviewer a laundry list of personal shortcomings: I never follow through, I lack personal responsibility, I tend to overlook important details, etc. And avoid citing a weakness that could impact the vacant position.

Try to frame your answer in the past, and let the interviewer know that you have learned from the past and have overcome your flaw.

How You Learn From Failures and Setbacks (i.e. Your Personal Disappointments)

Some hiring managers may ask you to tell them about a time when you were disappointed in your own performance. Again, this is another tricky question to answer because you don’t want to expose any flaws that may have a serious impact on the position.

Your answer to this question should be similar to how you would respond to weakness questions. Be brief about the situation, and spend more time discussing how you recovered and what you learned.

While it can be tough to prepare for these tricky questions, having a general idea of how to frame your answer can help you nail the interview. If the interviewer asks a negative question (i.e. tell me about your flaws or failures), always try to put a positive spin on your response, and be as brief as possible when describing previous workplace conflicts.


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