Getting the interview is the first part. It's a foot in the door, a face-to-face, and Once They Meet You They'll LOVE You, right?! Well, hopefully. Forget about the other people they're interviewing and there's a chance that yes, this meeting will land you the position. Your resume got you a seat at the table, but the interview is still the best way to convey your excitement for the work, your enthusiasm for the company, and your ability to successfully perform the job and fit in with the team. No pressure.
But what do you do if the interviewer isn't lobbing a slew of easy questions at you (hint: this will never happen)? The hardball questions are the real testers, and if you aren't prepared they can throw you for a loop. We've gathered some of the most common "tricky" questions, and have some tips for how to throw back some answers that are sure to impress.
Q1: Why did you leave your last job?
This one might have an unwanted story behind it, so keep it short, sweet and neutral. Try to avoid saying anything that could be interpreted in a negative way – leave out any comments on your old boss or management and don't mention if you're looking for more money (it's probably assumed that you are). It's fine to admit a company is going through layoffs, but no need to get into specifics. And even if you're looking to climb up the career ladder, saying so might make your prospective employer wonder why you're leaving that company to do so. Pivot the conversation to what excites you about this position and what you think you bring to the table and call this answer a slam dunk.
Q2: Which part of the job sounds the most challenging, and why?
Lying about your skills will come back to bite you. You and the hiring manager both want you to succeed in this job, so let the employer figure out if your strengths and their biggest needs align. Be honest about what area you could use a little work in and emphasize that you are working to improve in those areas. It'll also let them know if some extra training in certain skills could help you from the get-go.
Q3: What is your biggest weakness?
Sorry, I think "working too hard" is off the table. We all know the answers to these questions are usually just reworded strengths. You're a perfectionist, you work too hard, we get it.
So, think about a way to be specific about, for example, being a perfectionist. Does this mean you are very focused on details when the big picture needs some attention? Maybe you spend a lot of time organizing processes and files during a project when that should happen afterwards. If you "work too hard," admit that your biggest weakness is checking email after you leave the office. We think a good rule of thumb is to avoid the phrase "too much" in your answer (a la "work too much," "pay too much attention to detail") – your version of "too much" and their version of "too much" might be different.