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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?

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      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 January 14, 2019

        The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

        The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

        Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

        We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

        You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

        Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

        Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

        1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

        Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

        Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

        You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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        Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

        Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

        2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

        Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

        Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

        3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

        Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

        How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

        Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

        Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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        Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

        4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

        It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

        With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

        If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

        Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

        Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

        5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

        Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

        However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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        Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

        If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

        With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

        Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

        6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

        The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

        You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

        A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

        By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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        • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
        • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
        • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
        • Is this aligned with my passion?
        • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

        Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

        7. Be Prepared to Let Go

        It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

        Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

        If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

        When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

        Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

        We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

        The Bottom Line

        Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

        More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

        Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

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