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How To Skillfully Tackle the Toughest Interview Questions

How To Skillfully Tackle the Toughest Interview Questions

All the stops have been pulled for the big interview. Every interviewee knows how important it is to shine. Yet, in the back of your mind you feel worried. Perhaps it is your work history, challenges with co-workers, or something else. Get prepped. Study ahead with these tips for addressing even the toughest interview questions.

Tell Me About Your Work History.

Work history gaps need not present a problem. In order to address the issue, think of how you used your time during those periods. Volunteer work is certainly valid in learning new skills and honing old ones. Note time spent in continuing education classes learning worthwhile skills that will benefit this new employer. If there were extenuating circumstances that caused the gap, such as caring for family or an accident, explain the situation as clearly and briefly as possible.

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What Are Your Weaknesses?

This is likely one of the most hated, yet most common interview questions. Which is precisely why it is used: interviewers want to know how you handle your personal flaws. Start with the negative. Keep the answer in relation to your work, such as fear of public speaking or flawed computer skills. Emphasize that you are on a learning curve and are actively working to improve on the identified weakness. This shows your initiative and willingness to address your weakness.

Why Were You Fired?

Definitely a tough question and a potentially embarrassing one if this has happened to you. It is entirely appropriate to write out a script and memorize verbatim. Remember to relax while giving your spiel about this difficulty. Absolutely avoid the temptation to make the old employer look bad. This tactic never works and has the reverse effect. Of course the experience was bitter and heart-wrenching; however, the interview room is not the place for these emotions.

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What Challenges Have You Faced With Co-Workers?

For many reasons some people are simply tough to get along with, especially in the work place. The key here is, again, to stay away from being too critical or negative. Think of a time when there was a control issue or dissent in the workplace and how the situation was handled positively. People don’t always get along and the interviewer wants to know how you solved the problem with diplomacy and aplomb. Again, scripting your answer will help.

What Is Your Long-Range Objective?

Here is a great time to review the job description of a place in the company where you see yourself within the company. For example, as a supervisor or moving into a consulting position or as the company’s top accountant. Tailor your answer to within the scope of the company a few rungs above where you are now. Avoid telling the interviewer that you’ll be in their job in a few years. You don’t want to be perceived as a threat reveal that you don’t plan on remaining very long.

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Why Do You Want To Work Here?

The key here is to emphasize that you have done your homework and have chosen this particular company. Review the job description and elaborate on a few of the skills that you have to offer and their benefit to the company. Talk about the company’s offerings or services and what you found to be useful. This could be the product itself or the ease of navigating the web site. Let the interviewer know that you are aware of the company’s history or future projects. The point is to let the potential employer know that you have researched the company and are enthusiastic about working there.

Featured photo credit: Business people sitting in a row and writing notes. Close-up of writing hands. via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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