A Guide To The Most Evil Job Interview Questions

There are many articles available online covering common job interview questions that you are likely to field. Some of them may have seemed tricky, but they’re small fry compared to some of these tough interview questions that employers reserve for when they really want to make the applicants sweat!

But don’t worry, friends – there are answers to (or at least efficient ways of dodging) the most fiendish of job interview questions. How? Read on…

“Some of this job will be repetitive and mundane. Are you seriously okay with that?”

Ouch – how’s that for an opening tough interview question? Of course no one is over the moon about repetitiveness and they know this, which is why if you’re overly positive you’ll smack of insincerity – they’re not just looking for an intelligent, positive response here, but one that’s believable! To that end, in answering this interview question you might find a good response to be something like: “Of course all jobs have elements that are repetitive and less interesting than the others, but I’ve always tried to give 100% in every aspect of my work – mundane or not.”

“How have you managed to attend this job interview during office hours?”

This tough interview question may as well have been rephrased “does your boss know you’re here?” because that’s what they’re asking! It should be fairly obvious that the right answer isn’t “I pulled a sicky!” A good answer to this is “I took some of my pre-allocated holiday time to attend”, or if you want extra brownie points it will look exceptional to say “Regrettably, I was out of paid holiday time, so I asked my employer for some unpaid leave. I don’t think it would be fair on them to pay me for time spent attending other job interviews.”

“You know what the job involves – which part do you think sounds the least appealing?”

This interview question is incredibly mean and unfortunately there is no easy way out. You could try and keep it short with a “Having read through the job description, there isn’t anything which really doesn’t appeal to me” but if the job does have unappealing elements (and 99% of jobs do!) then you’ll come across as insincere. If there are aspects of the job which you can see yourself hating then be honest about it – just make sure it isn’t a major part of the job, and try to play it down when answering the interview question with a “but every job has some areas which don’t appeal, so I would still endeavour to take on these less appealing elements in a mature and professional manner.”

“What kind of person do you find it hard to work alongside?”

Although this interview question seems like an easy pitfall, there is real potential to turn a negative into a positive! Start off your answer with your best trait, as in “I’ve always thought of myself as very hardworking/sincere/quick/efficient, and so I sometimes find it frustrating to work alongside those who lack that particular quality. That said, I do pride myself on being very easy to get along with and a team player, and I have never met someone I can’t work alongside.” When answering the interview question this way, you highlight your positive points rather than other people’s negatives.

“To be honest, you seem to be overqualified for this position…”

Not an interview question as such, but something that definitely needs to be effectively deflected: if they feel you’re overqualified it seems to imply you’re either desperate for work (which you may well be, but you don’t want them to know) or likely to move on within a few months. If this comes up, you need to convince them that it’s just the kind of job you’d really enjoy – it’s hard to do, but when answering interview questions, convince them you have a high tolerance for boredom or that this kind of work is the type of thing you love doing and they should be thrilled to hire somebody so able.

“You haven’t been in your current job very long – why?”

The job interview process is expensive both in terms of costs and time – the employers don’t want to be in a position where they hire you and find you’re looking to move on within 3 months. They need their investment to be rewarded, and as such you need to set their minds at ease and convince them that it is your intention to be in ‘for the long haul’. A reasonable answer to this would therefore be something along the lines of “I felt I had learned all I could with my current employers and need to move on to enhance my career. I am now ready to settle down and devote myself fully to something I can commit to in the long-term.”

“You’ve been in your current job for a very long time – why?”

The flipside of the long-term human resources investment coin is that employers are often unimpressed by someone who seems to lack the ambition or ability to get another job. It’s a bit unfair, and should be easy enough to defend with one of the many legitimate explanations of employee dedication – a love of the job, good friendships, or a good old fashioned sense of loyalty.

“Have you been attending other job interviews?”

This job interview question is tough and can have both negative and positive repercussions. It could be an assessment of how much you want the job (“I’m only applying to this one simply because it seems ideal for my ambitions and skill set”) or a cheeky way of assessing if their rivals are interested in you (“I’ve been talking to a few other companies and considering my options.”) You have to use your own judgment to work out their intentions based on the tone of the interviewers and the other interview questions they ask. If you are in any doubt you could try hedging your bets and combining both the previous answers: “I have been talking to some other companies, but in all honesty this job is my preference, as the job description seems to match my experience and skillset.”

“What is your current salary?”

This is a cheeky job interview question that you should avoid giving the straight-answer to! They’re trying to save money as much as possible, and by working out your current wage they hope to be able to offer you the bare minimum (a slight increase on your current salary) – if you don’t tell them, then you’re in a far better position to negotiate. “It isn’t about the salary for me really – it’s the whole job package that interests me.” Avoid directly answering the interview question here, and you should be fine.

These tough interview questions are difficult to answer sufficiently, but the employer knows this – remember every applicant will receive the same grilling, and if you have the preparatory edge to put you ahead of your rivals, you have every change of beating them to the post.

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Resume Rick’s Interview Checklist

Use this checklist as a guide for things to remember as you prepare for your interview!

Documents & Preparation

Do you have multiple copies of your resume printed on high-quality paper?
Do you have an extra copy of the cover letter you submitted?
If applying for a job requiring a portfolio, do you have examples of your work?
Do you have a completed application form or copy of the job posting?
Do you have a copies of you proof of employment eligibility and personal ID?
Do you have a notebook or extra paper to jot down notes and questions?
Do you have a sturdy folder or folio to organize all of the above documents neatly?
Have you researched the company beforehand to understand its industry, primary products/services and business mission?
Attire

Have you had a recent haircut or styled/combed/brushed your hair?
Have you taken time to organize a professional looking outfit?
Do you have shoes appropriate for the selected clothes?
Is your outfit wrinkle free and worn properly (ties, belts, collars, etc)
If you have poor eyesight, are you wearing your glasses or contact lenses?
Have you brushed your teeth/chewed gum to ensure no offensive odors?
Have you planned an appropriate amount of time to reach the location of the interview at least 15 minutes early?
Behavior

Did you turn you cell phone off or set it to silent?
Did you make sure to use the restroom before the interview?
Did you make a proper introduction with a firm handshake and reasonable eye contact?
Did you maintain regular eye contact during the interview, maintain a proactive posture and ask good, relevant questions?
Did you take notes during the interview?
Did you engage in the interview by reacting to information with thoughtful, pertinent responses, with confidence and enthusiasm for the department/company?
Closing

Did you ask at least 2 meaningful questions?
Did you get a commitment for follow-up?
Did you collect all of your documents and belongings?
Did you close with a thank you and handshake?
Did you thank the receptionist or front-desk person too?
Follow-up

Did you send a customized thank-you letter within 24 hours of the interview?
Did you supplement the follow up letter with a phone call to the interviewer?
Did you take notes and apply knowledge from this interview for your next interview?
If offered the job, do you have a clear understanding of start time, salary and job expectations?
Thanks for viewing and best of luck to you on your interview!

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Smart Answers to 10 Tricky Interview Questions

Whether you’re being interviewed to be an intern or a CEO, you’re going to run into a few notoriously tricky questions—here’s a road map of what you’ll be asked, and how to craft impressive answers to even the toughest questions. No two situations are ever exactly the same, but as a general guide, these are the types of questions that could come up in a typical interview.

  1. Why don’t you tell me about yourself?

This question, often the interview opener, has a crucial objective: to see how you handle yourself in unstructured situations. The recruiter wants to see how articulate you are, how confident you are, and generally what type of impression you would make on the people with whom you come into contact on the job. The recruiter also wants to learn about the trajectory of your career and to get a sense of what you think is important and what has caused you to perform well.

Most candidates’ find this question a difficult one to answer. However, the upside is that this question offers an opportunity to describe yourself positively and focus the interview on your strengths. Be prepared to deal with it.

There are many ways to respond to this question correctly and just one wrong way: by asking, “What do you want to know?” You need to develop a good answer to this question, practice it, and be able to deliver it with poise and confidence.

The right response is twofold: focus on what interests the interviewer, and highlight your most important accomplishments.

Focus on what interests the interviewer

Do not dwell on your personal history—that is not why you are there. Start with your most recent employment and explain why you are well qualified for the position. The key to all successful interviewing is to match your qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for. You want to be selling what the buyer is buying.

Highlight Important Accomplishments

Have a story ready that illustrates your best professional qualities. For example, if you tell an interviewer that people describe you as creative, provide a brief story that shows how you have been creative in achieving your goals.

Stories are powerful and are what people remember most.

A good interviewee will memorize a 60-second commercial that clearly demonstrates why he or she is the best person for the job.

  1. How long have you been with your current (or former) employer?

This is a hot-button question if your résumé reflects considerable job-hopping. Excellent performers tend to stay in their jobs at least three to five years. They implement course corrections, bring in new resources, and, in general, learn how to survive—that’s why they are valued by prospective employers.

If your résumé reflects jobs with companies that were acquired, moved, closed, or downsized, it is still viewed as a job-hopper’s history. Volunteer and go to events where hiring authorities may be found. Ratchet up your networking to include anything that exposes you to hiring authorities who can get past your tenure issue because now they know you. Your networking efforts have never been so important.

  1. What is your greatest weakness?

An impressive and confident response shows that the candidate has prepared for the question, has done serious self-reflection, and can admit responsibility and accept constructive criticism. Sincerely give an honest answer (but not a long one), be confident in the fact that this weakness does not make you any less of a great candidate, and show that you are working on this weakness and tell the recruiter how.

  1. Tell me about a situation where you did not get along with a superior.

The wrong answer to this hot-button question is, “I’ve been very fortunate and have never worked for someone I didn’t get along with.”

Everyone has had situations where he or she disagreed with a boss, and saying that you haven’t forces the recruiter to question your integrity. Also, it can send out a signal that the candidate is not seasoned enough or hasn’t been in situations that require him or her to develop a tough skin or deal with confrontation.

It’s natural for people to have differing opinions. When this has occurred in the past, you could explain that you presented your reasons and openly listened to other opinions as well.

  1. Describe a situation where you were part of a failed project.

If you can’t discuss a failure or mistake, the recruiter might conclude that you don’t possess the depth of experience necessary to do the job. The recruiter is not looking for perfection. He or she is trying better to understand your level of responsibility, your decision-making process, and your ability to recover from a mistake, as well as what you learned from the experience and if you can take responsibility for your mistakes.

Respond that you’d like to think that you have learned something valuable from every mistake you have made. Then have a brief story ready with a specific illustration.

It should conclude on a positive note, with a concrete statement about what you learned and how it benefited the company.

  1. What are your strengths?

Describe two or three skills you have that are relevant to the job. Avoid clichés or generalities; offer specific evidence. Describe new ways these skills could be put to use in the position you are being considered for.

  1. How do you explain your job success?

Be candid without sounding arrogant. Mention observations other people have made about your work strengths or talents.

  1. What do you do when you are not working?

The more senior the position, the more important it is to know about the candidate’s qualities that will impact his or her leadership style: is the person well adjusted and happy, or is he or she a company zealot?

Discuss hobbies or pursuits that interest you, such as sports, clubs, cultural activities, and favorite things to read.

Avoid dwelling on any political or religious activities that may create conflict with those of the interviewer.

  1. Why did you leave your last position?

At high levels, issues that relate to personality and temperament become more important than they might otherwise. The recruiter wants to know if you will fit in with the client company. The recruiter may also be fishing for signs of conflict that indicate a potential personality problem.

Be honest and straightforward, but do not dwell on any conflict that may have occurred. Highlight positive developments that resulted from your departure, whether it was that you accepted a more challenging position or learned an important lesson that helped you to be happier in your next job.

  1. Why do you want to work in this industry?

Think of a story to tell about how you first became interested in this type of work. Point out any similarities between the job you’re interviewing for and your current job. Provide proof that you aren’t simply shopping in this interview. Make your passion for your work a theme that you allude to continually throughout the interview.

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