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The Best Answers to the 7 Worst Interview Questions

The Best Answers to the 7 Worst Interview Questions

Interviews can be very discomforting. Of course, the interviewee wants to put forward the best possible answers to even the toughest questions. And answering difficult questions on the fly can be problematic. Fortunately, great answers to troublesome questions can be rehearsed and considered long before that important interview. Here’s how.

1. Tell me about yourself.

Here you want to squeeze in every possible strength and potential contributions you can make to the company without being long-winded. The interviewer is far more interested in how the question is responded to, that is, whether or not the answer is said with sincere enthusiasm. Begin with a quote from a person you admire that sums up what you believe to be true about yourself to answer the question quickly and concisely .

Encapsulate the answer into a one-minute presentation of your professional achievements. Did you have a job that relates to the position you are seeking? Hit the interviewer with your unique achievements and contributions to the company’s bottom line. If there are no comparable jobs in your past, explain why you are interested in the position.

2. Tell me about an instance where you failed or did something you are ashamed of.

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    Among the many questions that can be asked, this is one of the most dreaded. The fundamental key here is to turn that failure into a success. Take a moment to reflect as if you weren’t expecting the question. Say that as a human being you are as prone to mistakes as anyone else; however you have no regrets—even if you do (and most of us do), don’t admit them. This is not a confessional.

    Tell the interviewer that in those instances where you have made a mistake with a coworker, you have admitted your mistake. You went back to the person and apologized and started again. Say that you prefer to keep things out in the open and you, personally, make a point to communicate about any experienced problems on both sides of the table.

    3. What is your biggest weakness, that’s really a weakness, and not a secret strength.

    This is a gotcha question if there ever was one. No chance here to flip the question to a strength, such as, “I’m a workaholic” or “I tend to take my work home with me.” What to do? Instead, show that you recognize your weaknesses and make every effort to address them. For example, “I tend to be very demanding of others, but I am learning that everyone has their own unique gifts.”

    Now is the opportunity to address any gaps in your resume. Tell the interviewer that you may not have direct experience in an area, but related experience such as fund-raising in place of sales experience. Say that in recognition of your weakness at say, public speaking, you have volunteered to come forward in team leadership roles.

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    4. Have you ever been fired? If so, why?

    employee termination

      Refrain from making previous bosses or companies look bad. You come off as being bitter, blaming of others, and irresponsible. None of which you wish to convey to a new company. Make an admission, such as, telling the interviewer that you were inexperienced in communicating with your boss about teamwork. This way you acknowledge what happened and that you learned from the experience.

      Say that you simply were not a good fit for the company, and before you had the opportunity to excel, you were let go. Or inform the interviewer that you didn’t fully understand your previous boss’s expectations and you both agreed that it was time to leave. Or, perhaps a new manager came on board and he wanted to bring in member from his old team before getting to know you.

      5. Why are you willing to accept an entry level position at this point in your career?

      The interviewer can’t or shouldn’t point directly at your age as a reason not to hire you. So the question may be asked in this manner. Tell the interviewer that it is the broad experience outside of the field that makes you the right fit. Your career experiences have prepared you to begin a career again in a brand new field.

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      Emphasize the quality that you enter the field with fresh new eyes and perspective. This opportunity also provides you with the advantage of learning about the company from the inside-out and the ground up. Tell the interviewer that the salary cut is worth it to you to start anew. Say that your experiences have made you reliable and prepared to go all out in the new position.

      6. How do you explain the gaps in your resume?

      It’s almost a surprise that this question still comes up. Especially in light of the fact that companies have not been hiring for the last few years or that a person may have taken time to be with young children or an illness may have prevented someone from working. This is a good time to refer to your references—people who can verify that you were perhaps, self-employed for a time or otherwise disengaged.

      Be honest, but again, turn the weakness to a strength. Say, “In the time I have been out of the marketplace, I have better honed my skills in communication.” Emphasize that while you have been unemployed you have been far from idle, but have been keeping up with the job market or your profession in other ways.

      7. Tell me about a time when a co-worker was not doing their fair share of work. How did you handle the situation.

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        The way that you have dealt with a difficult co-worker is emblematic of how you deal with difficult people and potentially hard-to-handle customers. Cast the problem in the best possible light by suggesting that the co-worker was dealing with a particularly bad personal situation and that you were glad to step in and help as you were able.

        Let the interviewer know that you talked with the co-worker, in order to clear the air and avoid hiding resentment. This clearly shows that you are willing to deal with the difficulty, instead of suffering in silence. The example also clearly exemplifies the fact that you are a people person and willing to work through a very difficult situation.

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        Last Updated on August 14, 2020

        How to Find a Career That Is Right For You

        How to Find a Career That Is Right For You

        There are thousands of careers to choose from. No wonder finding the one that’s right for you can feel like a guessing game.

        Choosing or changing careers can be scary. Even if it’s right for you now, you might wonder, who says it’ll still be a fit in the future?

        The truth is, you have to start somewhere. Whether you’re looking for a first job out of college or need a new career, follow this process to find the right one for you:

        1. List Out Careers You Could Pursue

        It sounds simple, but it’s good advice: Start with what you like. Even before you begin looking for the right career, you probably have an idea of what you’re interested in.

        Next, make a second list, this one including your strengths. If you aren’t sure whether you’re actually good at something, ask someone close to you who’ll give you a truthful answer.

        Once your lists are made, cross-reference them: What do you like to do and do well?

        In a third list, rank these. If you’re skilled at something you don’t particularly like, for instance, that should fall lower on the list.

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        2. Take a Career Assessment

        Standardized tests shouldn’t make decisions for you, but they can get you pointed in the right direction. Career assessment tests gauge your abilities and interests and make recommendations for career paths based on the answers you give.[1]

        Before reviewing your results, take a break. Getting some perspective can help you see whether your answers were guided by your mood. Look at the percentage match and ask yourself whether you could see yourself doing the work of the career or role every day.

        For example, if your responses emphasized helping others, the test might point you to a medical career. However, if you don’t want to work in a hospital or clinical environment, you might cut that option or place it lower on your list.

        3. Sweat the Details

        Every career has gratifying and frustrating things about it. Before you choose one, you need to be clear on those. Reading reviews and job descriptions you find related to each career, make a list of its pros and cons.

        There are a lot of factors to think through. Key questions to ask yourself include:

        • What are the hours required by this type of work? Can they be flexible?
        • What skills are required? Do I possess them, or would I be willing to learn them?
        • What are the education requirements? Can I afford to go back to school?
        • How much do jobs in the field pay? Is the payscale top-heavy or evenly distributed?
        • What does job growth in this sector look like? Are they traditional or contracted roles?
        • Are opportunities in the field available in my area? If not, would I be willing to move?
        • Would I be working solo or on a team?

        In answering these questions, you’ll find yourself crossing a lot of careers off your list. Remember, that’s a good thing: You’d rather find out a career isn’t right for you now than after you’ve put yourself on that path.

        4. Find the Sweet Spot

        The crux of the career question is this: What’s the “sweet spot” between your interests and strengths and the market’s needs? The greater the overlap, the better.

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        Be warned that you’ll have to compromise. Perhaps you enjoy working with animals, but there’s no demand for that line of work in your area. You might be good at math, but you wouldn’t want to crunch numbers in a cubicle for a living. Finding balance is crucial.

        5. Start Networking

        What’s the best way to get the real story about the careers you’re interested in? Talking to professionals in the field.

        Where should you find these people?

        • Reach out to local businesses.
        • Scour your social media networks, particularly LinkedIn.
        • Ask a past employer for recommendations.
        • Sign up for industry events and conferences.

        Schedule a short interview with each of your new connections. Ask them to weigh in on the comments you see online. Every role and company is a bit different, so don’t be surprised if their responses don’t align.

        Regardless of who you find or what they say, write it down. If one interviewee’s responses differ wildly from online responses, chat with someone else in the field. Do your best to find out what’s the rule and what’s the exception.

        6. Shadow and Volunteer

        As valuable as networking can be, you need a firsthand glimpse of the work. If you hit it off with one of your interviewees, ask to do some job shadowing. Sitting beside someone as they work can help you understand not just the pay and the responsibilities but also the culture and work environment associated with each career.

        Job shadowing is a good way to get your feet wet before taking a career plunge. If you felt uninterested or unhappy during your shadowing experience, it’s a good sign that you should ponder a different career path. If your shadowing experience made you want to come back for more, you may have found your calling.

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        Volunteer work is an alternative to job shadowing that can get you the experience you need as you analyze your career options. As a volunteer, you can be more flexible with your time and get opportunities you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

        7. Sign Up for Classes

        Many careers have an academic component that you can’t ignore. If you decide you want to be a lawyer, for instance, you might want to know you can survive law school first.

        Sign up for an introductory class or two related to each career you’re interested in. The earlier you do this, the better. If you’re still in college, the class will count as an elective and may be covered by your scholarship, but if not, look for a community college option to keep costs low.

        Taking a single class is not the same as earning a degree in the field. With that said, it’s a good way to test the waters before you invest thousands of dollars.

        If the content interests you and you look forward to class each week, that’s a good sign. If you start dreading the class or choose to drop it, focus your attention elsewhere.

        8. Enter the Gig Economy

        Contracted work is a great “try it before you buy it” career tactic. Skipping to an entry-level role requires more commitment than you might want to give while you’re still investigating your options. The gig economy offers the best of both worlds: paid work as well as flexibility.[2]

        Gig workers take work from companies or individuals that do not directly employ them. Plumbers and artists are good examples. Rather than receiving a regular paycheck, they sell their services by the task or deliverable.

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        In the gig economy, you aren’t bound by long-term agreements. If you don’t like the experience, you can simply move on.

        You never know if you’ll enjoy something until you try it. And because contractors work with professionals in the field, gig workers naturally get networking and shadowing opportunities.

        9. Market Yourself

        As you zero in on your dream career, there’s one final test you can use to find out whether you’ll be successful: marketing yourself as a candidate for hire. Whether you get bites is a key indicator of how you’ll fare in the field.

        Beware that, as someone without much experience in the field, you’re going to get a lot of rejections. Don’t be discouraged. If you get two interviews out of 50 applications, think of it as two opportunities you didn’t have before to find your ideal career.

        Just as important as outreach is a good inbound strategy. Set up a website, and post your portfolio on it. Describe your dream job on your social media.

        Recruiters are constantly on the lookout for candidates that fit their company. The more exposure you get, the more people will be interested in what you have to offer. Put yourself out there, and you just might find the perfect fit.

        Don’t Give Up!

        Nobody ever said it was easy to find a career that’s right for you. Finding one is tough enough, and even then, you may find yourself looking for a new field ten years into your career.

        Whatever you want from your professional life, you have to be willing to put in the time. Don’t hesitate, and don’t give up. Start your search today.

        More Tips on How to Find a Career

        Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

        Reference

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