Challenging Interview Questions to Prepare For

An interview in and of itself can be anxiety-inducing. But when you find the hiring manager rapidly firing off difficult questions, it can quickly become overwhelming. Here are some of the more challenging interview questions and how to effectively respond.

Why did you leave your previous employer?

This is by far one of the trickiest questions and requires you to proceed with tact. Before formulating an answer, you need to understand precisely what an interview manager REALLY wants to know by asking this question. In most cases, they want to find out:

  • If you left voluntarily or if you were fired
  • If you left for a valid reason
  • If you went out on good terms

Ideally, your answer will involve explaining you left voluntarily and for a valid reason (e.g., you were looking for a more challenging position and didn’t leave on a whim). It’s also ideal if you went out on good terms and didn’t just walk out and leave your previous employer high and dry.

Be sure to address these three key areas and portray yourself as a person who is loyal, responsible and looking for new opportunities.

What is your biggest weakness?

Getting hit with this question can instantly derail even the smoothest of interviews. Most experts agree the way to handle this is by answering in two parts – the confession and the recovery.

For instance, you might say your biggest weakness is you’re impatient. That’s the confession. For your recovery, you could explain you’ve made it a point to understand that many team members have a full plate and may have different priorities than you. That’s why you’ve become more focused on prioritizing your own work

The key here is to be genuine and show you possess enough self-awareness to understand your biggest weakness and how you’re working to improve in a tangible way.

What type of salary are you looking for?

Many interviewees will squirm at this question. Go too high, and you may turn off a hiring manager. Go to low, and you may earn less than you deserve. Monster offers a great example of how to answer this question.

“In general, I expect a salary that’s consistent with current employees at the same level.”

You can impress a hiring manager by doing your research on what a typical employee earns in your industry. Check out this resource from The Bureau of Labor Statistics for detailed, up-to-date information.

It’s impossible to know which interview questions will be thrown your way. But you can do yourself a favor by preparing for some of the more common and challenging questions. This should enable you to answer fluidly and make a great impression on your hiring manager.

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