Interview Coaching: Tough Questions
neon question mark

You know every interview consists of questions being asked and answers given. How well this exchange goes determines if you progresses in the process or not!

While you know this happens, not everyone prepares for it. Here’s some interview coaching to help you prepare to answer the tough questions that will surely come your way. Consider that EVERY question for which you are not prepared to answer well can be defined as a tough question. The questions below may not be asked at every interview; however, the ability to answer each one in a confident, sincere, and natural way will differentiate you from the other candidates.

Question: Tell us about yourself?
Meaning: What makes you special? Why should we hire you?
Response: Prepare several selling points about yourself. Give a quick elevator speech that overviews your experience and achievements.

Question: What are your greatest strengths?
Meaning: How do you perceive your talents and abilities as a professional? Will you be an asset to our organization?
Response: Sell yourself. If you don’t promote your strengths, nobody else will. Prepare six or seven responses. Be confidently humble.

Question: What are your greatest weaknesses?
Meaning: How honest are you being about yourself with us? How realistic are you? Do you have the ability to self-audit your behavior and adjust accordingly?
Response: Present your weakness as a positive, i.e., you have the ability to learn from your mistakes. Clearly state the situation, what happened, the outcome and then what you learned from the experience. The word “experience” does not mean the ability to get it right the first time, every time!

Q. Why are you interested in working here?
Meaning: How dedicated are you? Do you have a passion for this type of work?
Response: Keep your answer simple and to the point. Stay away from such responses as, “Many of my friends have worked here.” This response isn’t very impressive.

Q. Why should we hire you?
Meaning: Can you convince us you’re the one? Can you sell your “services”?
Response: Make a powerful statement about the value you’ll bring to their organization. Toot your own horn, but be wary of sounding arrogant.

Q. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Meaning: Will you be here for only year a before moving on, or are you committed to staying here for a while? Are you a stable person? Can you set goals for yourself?
Response: Be aware that they might not want to hire someone who will be round for only a year or two. Feel free to say that you have one goal at the moment: to be the very best employee for that particular job.

Question: What are some of your hobbies?
Meaning: How well-rounded are you? What do you do outside of work that might transfer positively into the workplace?
Response: Emphasize any hobbies or activities that may relate to the job. Help the interviewer learn more about you and perceive you as a person rather than a job candidate. Don’t just answer questions, respond appropriately to them.

Question: Would you be willing to pursue an extra certificate or credential?
Meaning: What they’re really asking: How is your attitude? How flexible are you?
Response: Tell the interviewer how important professional growth is to you. Understand that the person who will impress the interviewer the most is the one willing to do the extra work.

Question: What were you hoping we’d ask today, but didn’t?
Meaning: What they’re really asking: Is there anything special about yourself that you want us to know?
Response: Consider this a show and tell opportunity. Use materials from your portfolio to convince them how valuable you’ll be to their organization.

Question: Do you have any questions for us?
Meaning: Are you prepared to ask questions? How interested are you in this position?
Response: List five or six questions on an index card. Ask at least one question, even if all of your prepared questions have been answered. Never say, “No, you’ve answered all of my questions.”

Finally, it’s important to sound natural and thoughtful when replying to each question. Don’t let your responses sound rehearsed. Make the interviewer feel as though you’ve given serious thought to every question and are genuinely interested in the job.

Wishing you every interview success!


Beth Kelzer
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