To ace your next job interview, you need to prepare impressive answers to some pretty tricky work-related questions.
Here are 7 interview questions and answers strategies that will help you land your dream job.
8 Common (and Tricky) Interview Questions
During a job interview, you can expect a hiring manager to throw common and tricky questions your way. They are used alongside behavioral interview questions to get to know you.
These types of interview questions and answers test your communication skills. They can also build rapport between you and your potential new boss. These answers require some preparation but they should not sound rehearsed.
If you’ve been looking for a job, you’ve done phone interviews, video interviews, and in-person ones. You give what you think is a good answer to the same question to different potential employers. Then you don’t get a job offer.
Instead of repeating the same answer, use these interview questions and answers as a chance to sell yourself. Tell them why you fit in the company culture and what job skills you bring to the table.
Jeff Haden, contributing editor to Inc. writes about the eight most common interview questions and answers. You can bet your lunch money that at least one of these questions will be part of your next job interview.
How to Ace Tricky Interview Questions and Answers
1. Prepare Talking Points and Use Them.
This first strategy takes the longest. But it will help you accomplish the rest of the ideas on this list easily and quickly. You’re going to write talking points. Talking points will help you to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.
What are talking points? Talking points are brief phrases or sentences that are put into a bullet point format. The bullet points are then grouped into topics. You don’t read talking points word-for-word. They just remind you of what you want to tell your audience.
Using Talking Points for Interview Questions and Answers
You can have them with you in a small notebook or on a piece of paper. Place the notes in front of you before the interview begins. When asked a question, repeat part of the question or use a phrase to pause and collect your thoughts. Then glance at your notes to find the information you want to share.
Example: The question is Why should we hire you? Your answer can start with “You should hire me, but not for the reasons you think …” or “Instead of answering that question with a statement, I want to tell you a story…” While you are speaking, you can look at the points. Examples of talking points for a customer service job are:
Leader — 14 customer service reps to have 98% satisfaction rating.
Build rapport quickly speak to anyone even difficult conversations.
Whole Foods is the Harvard of customer service, learn, grow my skills to delight customers.
How do you write talking points? As you can see talking points are shortened statements with keywords. I bold the words that are important. Also the print size should be large enough so you can scan it easily. You should have plenty of ideas for talking points from the job description and your resume.
2. Customize Your Answers to the Job
It’s important to remember that each job interview process is different, even though the interview questions and answers are the same.
Just as you would customize your resume for every job you apply to, you have to tailor your interview answers for each interviewer.
Example: Tell me about yourself. You can use some of the same talking points that you created — You have number of years of experience in the career field. And you coach little league in your spare time. But you want to mention how you use specific skills from the job description in your current job.
3. Practice Interview Questions and Answers.
It’s one thing to be prepared for a job interview, it’s another to sound like a phony. Hiring managers can sniff out fake a mile away. Mock job interviews are a great dress rehearsal for the big meeting. Enlist a friend or a loved one to ask you the eight interview questions and answer them with your prepared talking points.
At first, you may have to read directly from your smartphone or piece of paper to get the answer out. Then you want to say the words without looking at your notes. When you feel comfortable, you will be able to say the answer as if it just occurred to you. You can add in details or rephrase it without losing focus.
4. Addressing Weaknesses: Take the Middle Ground.
Talking to the interviewer about your strengths is easy. If you want to develop your strengths further, read this epic post on the 7 steps you can take. But inevitably that means they will want to know about your weak areas. Be genuine, but don’t throw yourself under the bus.
Stick to real flaws that are not required skills of the job. For example, if you are a bookkeeper, the fear of public speaking as a weakness does not raise red flags. If you say you lack attention to detail, that may be a dealbreaker. Don’t give a flimsy answer such as “I care too much.” or “I’m a perfectionist.” That will send a red flag that you are not being honest.
5. Focus on Lessons Learned From Failures.
Prospective employers want to know that if you mess up, you learn from it. Let’s say you had a typo in a business proposal. You can say that misstep taught you to have processes in place to catch errors. You use spell checkers, Grammarly, and read through every document at least twice.
6. List Your Relevant Successes and Strengths.
Listing your successes in a job interview is more comfortable, but proceed with caution. You want to convey confidence, not be cocky.
Talk about your successes and strengths during the interview based on how relevant they are. Open ended questions need focused answers.
This is a good time to distinguish yourself and the best candidate. What talent, work experience or skill will wow them during an interview? Make sure it is unique, but also fits with the job.
7. Avoid Salary Expectations Talk Like the Plague.
Although pay is not one of the common interview questions and answers on the list, it is a common pitfall in the job search.
The big rule is to delay negotiations. If the interviewer needs a number, give them a range.
You can skirt the issue by saying salary is one factor in your decision making. You would like to know more about the work before making any salary requirements. Note for public sector employees.
There is very little negotiation to the posted salary or range that is usually included on the job listing.
8. Pose Your Own Interview Questions and Answers.
At the end of the interview, you will have the chance to ask interview questions. These can be included in your sheet of talking points.
Take the opportunity to ask at least two questions and answer them with more information about yourself. You can:
Revisit Your Strengths
Ask questions where you can further showcase your skills. For example, a public relations specialist could ask about the company’s social media communications strategy.
Then he or she could fold in Facebook campaign experiences.
Assess the Job Fit
Remember one of the 4 principles of a Soul-based Job Search — you are the boss of your happiness. Asking questions will help you decide your next move. Do you really want the position?
Can you see yourself working for this person? Ask about training opportunities or their management style.
Be bold and ask them to describe their weaknesses and strengths. Nothing is worse than aligning with the wrong career because you let fear of lack control you.
You have to be willing to be authentic and risk being rejected after a job interview in order to find your true fit.
3 Bonus Interview Tips
1. Use Job Interview Affirmations.
Finding a job can be one of the most stressful situations, especially if you’ve been laid off. Job interviews are nerve-wracking on a good day, but you can calm your mind with job interview affirmations. I
wrote a massive post about them and included 50 for you to try. Affirmations are positive phrases that you say aloud to change negative thoughts.
2. Get Everything Ready the Night Before Your Interview.
Have one last mock interview, set an alarm to write your thank-you note the same day and don’t forget to print out your resume.
Get this checklist of 15 Things to Do the Night Before a Job Interview. It has everything you need to do to stay totally zen on your big day.
I hope these strategies for common interview questions and answers help you have confidence in your next interview.
Don’t forget to use non-verbal communication too. Make eye contact, smile and a having a firm handshake helps. Good luck and get prepared for an amazing job.