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Ten Tough Interview Questions - Part 2
July 6th, 2010 by Linda White  Posted in Interviewing, Most Popular
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Interview Questions that Will Make You Feel StupidThis is the second part of a series (Tough Interview Questions – Part 1). These questions might throw you, but don’t be intimidated. Here are some tips for handling them.

Creativity: “How would you create a great campaign/event/blood drive?”

This is tough because you have no idea a) what they have done in the past b) what works for their audience or c) what they are looking for. It is very hard to explain that this type of work is never done in a vacuum. You collaborate with people and the project organically grows. But if you say that, it will sound like a cop-out. You could be very diplomatic and say something like, “I don’t usually work on these projects alone. Generally things start out with a brainstorming session.” And then you could brainstorm on the spot if you have some good ideas. But talk a little about your process if you don’t. The interviewer is probably not looking to pick your brain for their next big idea right here – they are probably looking for the way you respond to a challenge or whether or not you can think on your feet.

Motivation: “What motivates you?”

Whatever it is, don’t answer, “Money.” Turn this into a chance to share something positive, like, “Making a real contribution.” “Seeing a project well done.” “Improvement in my performance.” Something that says you are moving forward. It could be helping people, it could be curing cancer. Whatever you say, it should be sincere.

Competition: “Are you interviewing with any other companies right now?”

Be honest. This could be a sign that they are really serious about you, and want to know how available you are. Or it could be a way for them to gauge just how valuable you are. If you are interviewing with other companies (and you should be!), then answer truthfully but indicate that you are all ears to what they have to say. “Yes, I am, but ABC Company is my first choice.”

Value: “Why should we/I hire you?”

This can be tough. Lay it on too thick and you sound like a blowhard. Don’t say enough and you sell yourself short. Take it for what it is – an open invitation to sell yourself. Be truthful and indicate that you are the best person for the job. “I am a top performer and I would be an asset to this company.” You can expound on this a tiny bit, adding a couple key traits – fast learner, very productive, or the like. But don’t drone on and on and don’t ever sound desperate.

And finally, the dreaded “What is your biggest weakness?”

And if you say “I am a perfectionist, but I have learned not to get too hung up on unimportant details,” you will be parroting every other interviewee they have met with that day. You need to come up with something original here, that does not sound canned. Yet, keep the idea of coming up with something that is really a strength, but you’ve got it so severe, it has actually bogged you down. Your ability to see the big picture – “I tend to get excited about the big picture, but I have learned to bring myself back down to the ground in order to focus on the daily details.” Pick something that is actually true for you – don’t ever say you possess a trait that you do not have. Don’t talk about your bad temper, taking time off for family reasons or your love of gossip, either.

Always keep your answers to business, never personal issues, and you will do fine. Try to put yourself in the place of the interviewer or business owner. What would you want if you were the one doing the hiring? Think about the company – not what you want. If you do that, your answer will reflect the thoughts of an employer instead of someone just punching a clock. Share your tips or horror stories in the comments section!

Tough Interview Questions – Part 1
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  • Megan Jones

    One of the toughest interview questions I think are what are your salary requirement. Should you research what other people in that position are getting or leave it open for discussion?

  • James

    On the Weakness issue, I've recently had a candidate who said I am perfect! Immediately the interviewer went right off them. As Linda says, make sure you substantiate your answer by you're working on it!

  • James

    All valid counter-arguments, although in my experience, money can be a good motivator, particularly if you're going for a Sales driven post. Just make sure you qualify it with money for both the team (organisational profit) and your own bonus!

  • Anirban Das

    Great Tips. Thanks for sharing the same.

  • And on the weekness part... Interviwers are tired of hearing a strength polished as a weekness. It only shows that the candidate is not willing to correct their weekness..

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