5 perfect answers to the toughest interview questions

Going into any job interview, you know you’re going to get some tough questions. Knowing how to answer them in ways that are both honest and powerful can help you impress the interviewer and land the job.

Going into any job interview, you know you’re going to get some tough questions. Knowing how to answer them in ways that are both honest and powerful can help you impress the interviewer and land the job.

To help you out, here are some perfect answers to some of the toughest interview questions.

1. What is your greatest weakness?

This question is a common one, but Eric Melniczek, a career advisor at HighPoint University Career & Internship Services, points out that interviewers rarely ask whether it is a current flaw. He suggests an answer along these lines:

“In the past, I was unable to meet set deadlines. However, several years ago, I developed a technique where I write down what I plan to accomplish every hour of every day during the workweek and how I spend my time. Over the years, I have noticed that my productivity has improved dramatically utilizing this method. In fact, my work supervisor recently complimented me in a staff meeting with a dozen of my peers for consistently exceeding team and individual expectations as well as managing my time well."

You’ve probably identified a weakness in anticipation of this question. An answer that shows you’ve solved it can illustrate your problem-solving capabilities.

2. Tell me about your worst boss.

It can be tempting to trash your former manager, but you need to find a way to put a positive spin on this answer. Leanne King, president and owner of SeeKing HR, suggests talking about what you learned from your worst boss:

“My worst boss ever taught me things like graciousness, the absolute need for technical competency and professional respect -- these are core characteristics to creating high performing teams and areas she may have chosen to improve upon. I learned through a series of very difficult situations that everything about business is personal -- personal to me and certainly personal to her. Speaking to others with kindness and compassion certainly can take you further in your career aspirations. I was inspired to support the people who work for me, raise them up to reach their potential and encourage them to seek greatness.”

3. What sort of salary are you looking for?

This is a hard one because you don’t want to undercut yourself, but you don’t want to price yourself out of range, says Elliot Lasson, executive director of Joblink of Maryland. Ideally, you’ve done some research into the position and know what’s reasonable, but Lasson says you can also ask for more information:

“That's a fair question. To answer it properly, I'd need to know more about the position responsibilities and benefits package. I am quite confident that knowing the reputation of the company, when the time comes, any offer you make will be competitive.”

4. Why should we choose you?

Dave Popple, president of Corporate Insights Global, suggests taking the approach quarterback Johnny Manziel took with the Cleveland Browns:

“I applied for this job because this is the company I really want to work for, not because I needed a job. When someone comes to a company they really want to work for, they invest more of their energy and time into their career. You should choose me because I made this company my first choice.”

5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This is a hard one, because it’s difficult to predict the future. Heather Beaven, CEO of the Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida's Graduates, suggests a forthright approach:

“I am both purposeful and flexible so I never carve a path in stone. Instead, I try to be fully prepared to maximize any opportunity that comes my way.”


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