Going on interviews can be intimidating. No matter how much you prepare, sometimes an interviewer is going to throw you a question you didn’t expect, or don’t know how to answer. That’s okay! We’re here to help.
These are some of the toughest questions you’re going to get when going on interviews, and how to answer them best without breaking a sweat.
If You Could Go Back in Time x Amount of Years, What Would You Change?
This is such a sneaky trick question that it goes at the top of our list! What the interviewer is looking for is a character flaw or personality issue that you will reveal when talking about the past. Don’t give them what they want!
Instead, be honest but upbeat. Talk about how exciting the past few years of your life have been and how much growth you have experienced. Even throw in a line about how changing the past would ultimately change who you are now, so why would you want to?
If you’re absolutely pressed to give a ‘real’ answer, an anecdote about how a situation went not quite how you expected and what you learned from it is perfect. “After x happened, I realized that I should have done y instead. Small issues crop up sometimes, but it isn’t good to dwell. Learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.”
What is Your Greatest Weakness?
This is the worst interview question, and everyone always asks it! You and the interviewer both know you’re not going to be honest, so why bother?! There is a wrong way to answer this, though.
What this question is looking for is self-awareness and the ability to critique and reflect on your actions. The wrong answer here is that you don’t have any weaknesses. Even Superman had a weakness, and let’s be honest. You’re not superman.
I’m a perfectionist, or I’m too hard of a worker, are also copout answers. Be honest with the question but spin your answer in a positive light. “I know that I struggle with this issue, so I have done x, y, and z in my professional life in order to help move past it.”
What Did You Like or Dislike About Your Last Position?
This seems like an easy one, but beware! It’s on the list for a reason. This is actually a trick question that some interviewers will use to get multiple things from you. They’re not just trying to figure out what you are looking for in a new position (To see if you would be a good fit for their company), but they want to know if you’re a complainer.
Keep your tone light and positive, even if your previous employer was a dumpster fire. Don’t complain about being overworked or overburdened, and keep any specifics away. General, mostly positive but honest answers are important.
Why Have You Been Out of Work?
This is a hard question if you’ve been job searching for a long time but found nothing! HR often seems a big red flag when they look at a gap in work experience, and it’s up to you in this very moment to set their mind at ease about it.
Be honest, but positive. If you took time off to focus on school or new career paths, say that. If you took time off to focus on family, say that! Admitting you needed a step back to reevaluate your career trajectory is totally okay, but don’t bog down on the negative details or let yourself get wrapped up in them.
If they ask for more information, it’s okay to elaborate, but keep the tone light.
What Do You Expect From Your Supervisor/Boss/Company?
The company is looking for what expectations you have walking through their doors, but this question will also play into your personality. How you answer it is a big deal.
Don’t list all of the things you hate from previous supervisors or companies. A big list of negatives will bring the mood down and have your interviewer think you’re a negative person in general, not a good addition to a team.
Focus on the positives. “I really love when my managers are able to provide constructive criticism of my work, and willing to evaluate my levels as we go.”, or “I really work well under a manager that is open to assessing my abilities and utilizing my strengths, while helping me see and better my weaknesses.”