Successfully Meeting Tough Interview Questions and Challenges
A wise proverb reminds us to be ready to own what we know as well as what we do not know!
He that knows not, and knows that he knows not, he is simple – teach him.
He that knows not, and knows not that he knows not, he is a fool – shun him.
He that knows and knows not that he knows, he is asleep – wake him.
He that knows and knows that he knows – he is wise – follow him!
Tips for the Power Interview
- Have phrases in mind that will work comfortably for you.
- Prepare to think on your feet and practice responses to the questions interviewers may ask.
- Anticipate negative aspects and prepare responses that will not discredit you.
- Keep your motivation and positive attitude level high.
- Know something about a company before you interview.
- Emphasize what you can bring to a company, not what you want from a company.
- Dress professionally, check company dress codes and do not over or under dress.
- Risk being assertive and ask questions.
- Prepare for your interview by anticipating questions and answers to potentially negative situations.
- Practice to present yourself well, understanding that interviewing is sales and you are the product.
- Answer the question, “Why should I hire you?”
- Show confidence. Give the irresistible message that every employer wants to hear. “I can do it! I can get the job done!”
- Redirect the interview if it gets lost with questions. “Would you be interested in feedback about my HMO relationships?”
- Establish checkpoints in the interview to let yourself know how you are doing.
- Use questions such as, “Have I acquainted you with any areas about myself that fit what you are looking for?”
- Establish rapport by mirroring the style, pace and manner of the person that interviews you.
- Carry a leather-bound portfolio of any special accomplishments, licenses or certificates.
- Send a thank you letter promptly after your interview!
- Verbalize your fears or insecurity with things like, “In time, I think I could learn to do this job well.”
- Lead with negatives to get them “out of the way”.
- Convey the unspoken message, “I need a job.”
- Be overly-casual or excessively familiar.
- Wear jeans, evening, or suggestive attire.
What income were you making in your last position?
If you answer this with an income figure, you may lock yourself into a non-negotiable position. When employers ask for a salary history, they are endeavoring to simplify their search process and position themselves to negotiate within your salary range. However what if the position they are offering warrants a salary range that begins thousands of dollars beyond your present salary? Fair salary negotiations should be based on the credentials and experience we bring to a company. So we would be wiser to counter this question with a question. We might respectfully say, “Before we talk about my present salary, I would appreciate knowing the credentials and salary parameters of the position you are offering.” If we receive an answer to our question, we may then ask, “What are your criteria for the high and low end of your chosen salary range?” After this has been clarified, you may more successfully negotiate a pay scale within that framework.
What did you dislike most about your last employer?
If you say you disliked anything significant about your last employer, you may be labeled a “potential problem” employee who doesn’t like authority. So watch yourself with this volatile question. Even if you grossly disliked your last employer, it is best not to elaborate on his shortcomings. Maybe the company went bankrupt, or perhaps your former employer was unethical or incompetent, but you may be much better off if you can diplomatically skirt the explosive edge of this question by saying something like, “I tend to look for the best in people and I have learned many valuable things from each person that I have worked with. If I had to come up with something negative about him, I would say that he could definitely improve his golf score!”
What is your biggest professional drawback?
Here you have the challenge of picking a fault of yours that doesn’t really sound like a disadvantage. For example, if you tell an employer you are a bit of a workaholic and hate quitting before a job is done, he/she will hardly be upset with that flaw in your character! If on the other hand, you tell them you are “slow” or “too perfectionistic” you might not find them equally appreciative of your “drawbacks”.
Why should I hire you for this position?
If you’ve done your resume with Professional Profiles by Nadine, you have already toughed your way through this question and you know every possible advantage that you have to offer. Believe in yourself. Know what you have to offer and present it with confidence and people will have confidence in you. We need to know that we know! We don’t pretend to be things we aren’t but we must reflect certainty about what we do have to offer.
Is my age a disadvantage?
I have clients that think they are disadvantaged because they are too young–others because they are too old–and still others because they feel caught in the middle. Nonetheless, each age places us at a different vantage point with respective positions of strength to draw from. If we are young, we have rapid learning capabilities, and are more easily amenable to employer preferences. If we are older, we bring depth, wisdom, and experience to a company. If we are somewhere in between, perhaps we have a measure of both to offer. But most important is our ability to assess and present what we do have to offer. Remember, we buy advantages–not disadvantages, so we don’t say things like, “I’m older but”, or “I have no experience but”—. We lead with the positive and that sells convincingly in any marketplace!
What if you’ve worked in the same place for 20 years?
Some people feel that working in the same place has somehow locked them into a position that precludes growth or change. The fact is that most people who have remained in a company for a number of years have advanced through multiple positions and interfaced on many levels inside and outside of the company. The important consideration here is to tap into your track record for positive progression, career growth, and stability.
How can you defend yourself if you have changed jobs every two years?
As we turn the corner into the 21st century, I think we can safely say that the gold watch era has dissipated into the sea of international mobility, technological advancement, and expanding opportunity. Experts have forecasted that the average young professional will job or career shift at least 7 times in his or her professional life. Given this new cultural backdrop, job change may no longer signal irresponsibility, but instead reflect gravitation toward increasing challenge, adaptability, flexibility, versatility, and an ever growing experiential base. So don’t allow outdated voices to superimpose rules of past generations on your professional self-image. Chart a new path that flows with the ever changing marketplace.
What do you as a young person fresh out of school have to offer an employer?
You may feel you have nothing to offer because you are just beginning your professional journey, but think about it. You have a marvelous education and a sparkling new approach to bring to your professional world. You are very comfortable with learning new things because you have been in a constant learning posture for the last 16 years! You bring energy, vitality, and creativity to an employer. Youth is on your side! Present this as your high card. It is indeed a tremendous advantage and asset.
How can I change my career direction without looking like I don’t know what I want?
Very often while my clients feel that they are taking a diametric 360 degree turn in their professional life, I find that they are merely zeroing in on a familiar thread that has been running through the backdrop of their professional life in some way. The fun is finding and weaving that thread into your career history to make a transition appear more like a change of emphasis, than a whimsical shift to totally foreign territory. When we recognize that people have a variety of gifts and enjoy expanding their professional horizons to embrace the whole constellation of their experience, we understand that they do this not because they are indecisive, but because they are growing professionally, and wish to increase their career satisfaction and fulfillment. So why should we imagine for even one moment that creative and multi-talented people are poor professional risks? The trick is not to assume a defensive stance about our professional evolution and progression.
What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
I have a constant desire to continually do my best and reach beyond my limits personally and professionally. I hope to be working for your company and reaching for even further advancement.
Don’t forget that you are interviewing them too!
So as you develop your ability to transform negatives into positives, you will find that you are able to improve your interviewing skills and give employers honest and thought-provoking answers to tough interview questions. But never forget that you are an interviewer too! You also have the right to evaluate a company, your employer, and those you would work with to see if you would enjoy working for them. Shoot from the heart, be yourself, and you will find the position that is right for you.