Tough Interview Questions

Introduction:These are some of my real life experiences from either helping people prepare for interviews or conducting interviews.

  • 01

    Tell Me About Yourself

    Okay, so this isn't a question, it belongs here anyway. It sounds simple to answer. However, a lot of people get confused when the person says, "So, tell me about yourself". I have helped a lot of my friends prepare for interviews either looking for new jobs or looking for promotions in their existing jobs and they always get confused with this. I helped prepare someone recently, after I made the "tell me about yourself" request this was his answer: "I am married and have two children. One boy and one girl. I am 36 years old and go to a Christian church. And I like to spend time with my family on the weekend". I told him that was great but not what an interviewer is looking for. In fact, giving that kind of information could impact a person in the negative. Then I told him the interviewer wants you to tell them about yourself in terms of what you like in your work and experience and accomplishments that you have had on the job. We practiced this a few times (along with about 30 questions) and I am happy to say he got the promotion. I hope my help had a little to do with it.

  • 02

    Can You Tell Me a Time That You Went Above and Beyond In Your Job?

    Yikes. Most people have a hard time answering this because all the jobs are broken up into protocol now. And many times people do not know every detail of their job description. Also, people don't want to say, "yes, I threw away a piece of trash and I'm not a janitor." That would just make them sound lazy. Whenever I help someone prepare I delve deeper into their memories and they start thinking about the time they had helped a customer jump start their car or chased after the customer because they left a personal item behind, I even know someone who helped a mom look for her lost kid in a mall and found the kid. It doesn't need to be something heroic, just a kind act.

  • 03

    Have You Ever Helped an Upset Customer and What Was They Result?

    This sounds simple. Everyone who has ever worked directly with customers has had an upset one, so this is easy to answer. Not so fast, the second part of the question, what was the result? I bet you can probably vividly remember at least 20 upset customers. Most of the time the customer comes in already upset about something else and then just explodes on the employee. Now as the employee you need to service this customer and calm them down without losing your cool. I asked this question to someone and they told me they made the customer leave the store. I asked asked if the upset customer was being physical or was making threats. They said, "No, I didn't like her attitude. I'm not her slave." What? That person is definitely not getting the job. I explained to her that the right thing to do is let the customer vent, agree with them, let them settle down and then help them. I have had many upset customers who were happy with me when it was all said and done and are now very loyal and refer new customers.

  • 04

    Has There Ever Been a Policy or a Rule You Didn't Agree With In Your Job?

    This one makes them sweat. Should they answer and say they stood up for what they believe or just say they conformed to the rules? I asked this question in an interview I was conducting and they answer was, "I worked in the maternity ward in a hospital and was made to help the mothers while they were breast feeding. It's just wrong." What? I couldn't help but to think they she was confused by what a job description and a policy was. And she applied to work in a maternity ward, didn't she know there would be mothers feeding their babies there? It's actually a trick question, a normal company is not going put in place a rule or policy other than to keep you safe and keep the business moving. It's okay to say you have always agreed with the rules and policies.

  • 05

    Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

    I had a woman almost pass out when I asked this question. She turned red, started to sweat and almost fell off the chair. I had to give her a moment to compose herself. And then her answer was, "My managers at the old job weren't fair and didn't know what they were doing, I should have been their boss." It may be true, maybe those managers played favorites and didn't know what they were doing, but don't say it in an interview. I would have said something like, "I'm looking for a change, I want to work in an industry that I'm passionate about and with a company that I can grow and develop with." Much better than saying your former bosses are idiots.




Final Thoughts

I believe most people do not practice before going to an interview and that's why they end up saying or doing weird things. It's best to practice with someone who conducts interviews so you can condition yourself to not be nervous.




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