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Difficult Interview Question Samples

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Listed below are samples of difficult interview questions, along with examples of good and not-so-good ways of answering. When answering such questions, make sure that your answers are honest, but reassuring. Use tact and choose your words carefully.

Typically, it's a good idea to understate your answers to difficult questions that attempt to draw out negatives about you. That's because, when people hear something bad, they tend to focus on it in a way that is out of proportion to its significance in everyday life. Interviewers are people too.

For example, if you say that you are not always organized, your interviewer might imagine your desk strewn with papers and missed deadlines. But, in reality, your perception of disorganization might look a lot like the interviewer's perception of organization.

In addition, most of the interviewer's questions could be answered honestly in a variety of ways. Choose the version of the truth that is most appealing and sensitive—the version that helps support your main message.

What are your weaknesses?

Overemphasized: I am not a good manager.

Avoidance: I always get my work done on time. When other people drop the ball, sometimes I get frustrated with them.

Effective: I prioritize continual growth and improvement. An area on which I would like to focus is managing others who have different expectations from me. What needs to be done in order to complete responsibilities is intuitive for me, so I am learning how to give better direction to others who are not self-motivated.

Why did you leave your last job?

Vague and negative: Law always interested me, and I was looking for a new challenge. I thought it would be a good time to go to law school. Besides, I had gotten frustrated with the lack of support I felt at work.

Dangerous: In the end, my manager and I could not get along. He was driving me crazy and I needed to leave. 

Effective: As I succeeded in financial analysis, I became increasingly interested in broader issues of managing money. I wanted to understand how legal regulations and individuals' goals affect decisions about how to manage money. When I gained entrance to my top choice in law school, I seized the opportunity to infuse my financial training with legal knowledge.

How do you deal with criticism?

Disrespectful: When I consider the source, I usually realize that the person is in no position to criticize me in the first place.

Unbelievable: Criticism does not bother me at all.

Effective: Criticism is vital to my continued growth, and I welcome constructive criticism that helps a team operate better or produce better results. It is important to me to understand where my critic is coming from, so that I know how to apply the feedback.

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