How to Answer The 16 Toughest Interview Questions

Question 33: How do you feel about working nights and weekends?

TRAPS:  Blurt out “no way, Jose” and you can kiss the job offer goodbye.  But what if you have a family and want to work a reasonably normal schedule?  Is there a way to get both the job and the schedule you want?

Question 34: Are you willing to relocate or travel?

TRAPS:  Answer with a flat “no” and you may slam the door shut on this opportunity.  But what if you’d really prefer not to relocate or travel, yet wouldn’t want to lose the job offer over it?

Question 35: Do you have the stomach to fire people?  Have you had experience firing many people?

TRAPS:  This “innocent” question could be a trap door which sends you down a chute and lands you in a heap of dust outside the front door.  Why?  Because its real intent is not just to see if you’ve got the stomach to fire, but also to uncover poor judgment in hiring which has caused you to fire so many.  Also, if you fire so often, you could be a tyrant.

So don’t rise to the bait by boasting how many you’ve fired, unless you’ve prepared to explain why it was beyond your control, and not the result of your poor hiring procedures or foul temperament.

Question 36: Why have you had so many jobs?

TRAPS:  Your interviewer fears you may leave this position quickly, as you have others.  He’s concerned you may be unstable, or a “problem person” who can’t get along with others.

Question 37: What do you see as the proper role/mission of…
…a good (job title you’re seeking);
…a good manager;
…an executive in serving the community;
…a leading company in our industry; etc.

TRAPS:  These and other “proper role” questions are designed to test your understanding of your place in the bigger picture of your department, company, community and profession….as well as the proper role each of these entities should play in its bigger picture.

The question is most frequently asked by the most thoughtful individuals and companies…or by those concerned that you’re coming from a place with a radically different corporate culture (such as from a big government bureaucracy to an aggressive small company).

The most frequent mistake executives make in answering is simply not being prepared (seeming as if they’ve never giving any of this a though.)…or in phrasing an answer best suited to their prior organization’s culture instead of the hiring company’s.

Question 38: What would you say to your boss if he’s crazy about an idea, but you think it stinks?

TRAPS:  This is another question that pits two values, in this case loyalty and honesty, against one another.

Question 39: How could you have improved your career progress?

TRAPS:  This is another variation on the question, “If you could, how would you live your life over?”  Remember, you’re not going to fall for any such invitations to rewrite person history. You can’t win if you do.

Question 40: What would you do if a fellow executive on your own corporate level wasn’t pulling his/her weight…and this was hurting your department?

TRAPS:  This question and other hypothetical ones test your sense of human relations and how you might handle office politics.

Question 41: You’ve been with your firm a long time. Won’t it be hard switching to a new company?

TRAPS:  Your interviewer is worried that this old dog will find it hard to learn new tricks.

Question 42: May I contact your present employer for a reference?

TRAPS:  If you’re trying to keep your job search private, this is the last thing you want.  But if you don’t cooperate, won’t you seem as if you’re trying to hide something?

Question 43: Give me an example of your creativity (analytical skill…managing ability, etc).

TRAPS:  The worst offense here is simply being unprepared.  Your hesitation may seem as if you’re having a hard time remembering the last time you were creative, analytical, etc.

Question 44: Where could you use some improvement?

TRAPS:  Another tricky way to get you to admit weaknesses.  Don’t fall for it.

Question 45: What do you worry about?

TRAPS:  Admit to worrying and you could sound like a loser.  Saying you never worry doesn’t sound credible.

Question 46: How many hours a week do you normally work?

TRAPS:  You don’t want to give a specific number.  Make it to low, and you may not measure up.  Too high, and you’ll forever feel guilty about sneaking out the door at 5:15.

Question 47: What’s the most difficult part of being a (job title)?

TRAPS:  Unless you phrase your answer properly, your interviewer may conclude that whatever you identify as “difficult” is where you are weak.

Question 48: The “Hypothetical Problem”

TRAPS:  Sometimes an interviewer will describe a difficult situation and ask, “How would you handle this?”  Since it is virtually impossible to have all the facts in front of you from such a short presentation, don’t fall into the trap of trying to solve this problem and giving your verdict on the spot. It will make your decision-making process seem woefully inadequate.

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