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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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        Published on January 7, 2021

        How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

        How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

        Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

        If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

        Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

        You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

        When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

        Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

        In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

        Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

        3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

        Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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        1. Respect deadlines
        2. Understand the work-flow plan
        3. Build in time to mess up

        1. Respect Deadlines

        Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

        One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

        2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

        Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

        3. Build in Time to Mess Up

        You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

        Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

        For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

        Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

        This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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        Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

        Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

        Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

        When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

        12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

        Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

        1. Learn to Listen Well

        You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

        Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

        2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

        Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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        3. Follow Rules

        Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

        4. Take Notes

        Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

        5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

        When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

        As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

        6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

        If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

        7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

        English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

        8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

        Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

        9. Minimize Distractions

        It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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        If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

        10. Take Breaks

        It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

        11. Make Time for Reflection

        At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

        12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

        This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

        Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

        Final Thoughts

        Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

        When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

        More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

        Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

        Reference

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