Answering Tough Job Interview Questions

How to Answer Them With Skill

Answering tough job interview questions deftly and skillfully is a fine art. Here is a sampling of the key questions that you are most likely to encounter, along with advice on how to respond. In the short videos below, job search and interviewing experts offer their suggestions on the sorts of answers that are most likely to make a favorable impression on an interviewer.

Before looking at these short videos, first please read the more detailed explanatory text, then click on the links provided below.

Why Did You Quit a Given Job?

Why did you quit?
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If the interviewer asks about why you quit a certain job, or why there are gaps in your resume, what should you say? This short video addresses that difficult question.

There are many valid reasons that interviewers are unlikely to hold against you in assessing you as a job candidate. However, presenting your reasons awkwardly or unconvincingly definitely is bound to raise questions about you and damage your chances. Be sure that you rehearse your explanations in accordance with these suggestions.

Why Were You Fired From a Given Job?

Why were you fired?
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This is an even more difficult question to handle well. You need to be honest, but also to demonstrate conclusively that you are not a problem employee by nature, and thus that you represent a good risk for the current hiring manager and hiring company to bring onboard.

What Can You Contribute?

What can you contribute?
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As we have discussed elsewhere, the key to getting a job is not a dry recitation of experiences and accomplishments, but a dynamic demonstration of what you can do for the person and organization with which you are interviewing.

To succeed in marketing yourself, put yourself in the place of the hiring manager. What can you do for them in the future? How can you make their lives easier? How can you make them more successful?

What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

What are your weaknesses?
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This is a common question in a job interview. You never want to disclose a serious flaw that may result in your being eliminated from consideration, but you do need to answer the question in a manner that puts it to rest and leaves the interviewer confident in your ability to do the job well.

What Are Your Strengths?

What are your strengths?
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Too many job candidates answer this question in ways that do not make the interviewer excited about you and your abilities. Here's what you really should consider saying. More

What Are Your Salary Requirements and Expectations?

What are your salary requirements?
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You want to be paid as much as you can, while the hiring firm wants to get your services for as little as they can. Do not undersell yourself and your abilities, but do not make your demands so high that that you are rejected out of hand as a potential hire if you would settle for less.

Be prepared for the possibility that the interviewer will ask you to name your price, and start negotiating with you right there.

Interviewing is an Art, Not a Science

The suggestions offered in these videos represent best practices and best bets. There is no guarantee that following them to the letter will produce the desired results in any given interview situation. Interviewers, and companies, can differ greatly in what they want to hear, and are not necessarily consistent from interview to interview. Moreover, while it pays to prepare in advance, and to anticipate the sorts of tough questions that are discussed above, it also is critical that you should sound natural and unscripted during an interview. That is, of course, easier said than done. Consider practicing through mock interviews, particularly with people experienced in conducting these exercises.

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