Anytime you’re on the hunt for a new job, you will likely face challenging interview questions.  Although you can’t know exactly which tough questions may be asked of you, several common potential questions may come up.  It’s wise to practice some of these questions during your interview preparations.

Why The Tough Questions?

Interviewers will strategically place some tough questions in an interview to make you think and generate a response on the spot.  It helps them understand how you will react on the spot, and catch a glimpse into your natural thinking processes and responses. 

Relational Questions

Some interviewers may ask about your experiences with previous associates and managers to understand how you fit into the greater company culture in previous positions.  They’re also looking to see how you engage with other people.  When they’re asking these relational questions, keep a positive spin on your answers, even when there may be a desire to speak critically towards a previous manager or coworker.  Some examples of these questions may include things like:

  • Tell me about a time that a co-worker wasn’t doing their fair share of the work.  How did you respond to that, and what was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a time when you didn’t work well with a supervisor.  What happened? Is there anything you would do differently now?
  • Tell me about a time you helped someone at work.
  • Tell me about a time that you misjudged a person.

Capability Questions

When interviewing for a new job or position, you can definitely expect the interviewer to ask questions regarding your capabilities to do the job you’re applying for. They’re looking for validation that you’re the right fit for the position they’re looking to place you in. Sometimes these questions might surround soft skills, and other times around hard skills.  Answer truthfully and from a positive perspective. Some examples of these types of questions are:

  • Tell me about a time you made a decision that failed.  What happened? How did you handle it?
  • Why do you think you’ll be successful in this position?
  • Tell me about a time you faced conflicting priorities. How did you determine the top priority? How did you navigate the rest?

You Questions

Many times interviewers will ask you questions about yourself.  As long as the questions are professional and relate to your ability to do the job, these types of questions are completely appropriate. Some examples of these types of questions may include:

  • What would you do differently if you had a chance to start over in your career?
  • What is your preferred method of communication? Phone, text, email, etc.?
  • What did you focus on during this gap in your employment?
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • What do you find most exciting about the position you’ve applied for?
  • What do you think will be most challenging about the position you’ve applied for?

Bizarre or Abstract Questions

Sometimes interviewers will ask some questions that are more abstract or even bizarre.  These questions may not fall into the categories above but are generally asked to get a sense of how imaginative of a thinker you may be or to understand your personality better. Sometimes they’re meant to throw you off guard to see how you respond. Some examples may include the following:

  • If you were an animal, what would you be?
  • What does your current employer think you’re doing right now?
  • Are you a risk-taker?

Questions that Cross The Line

It’s important to know that some of the most challenging questions are actually questions that should never have been asked at all.  Any questions that ask about your age, race or nationality, pregnancy, disability, marital status, religion, etc., should not be asked.  Questions around these topics are generally illegal, and employers should not ask them in an interview.  However, sometimes hiring managers slip up and ask for something they shouldn’t. 

If you encounter questions in these areas that make you uncomfortable, remember that you have the right to end the interview yourself.  Interviewing for a job isn’t just about discovering if you’re the right candidate for the job, but it’s also about finding out of the company is the right fit for you.

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