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Five hard interview questions and how to answer them

Tough Interview Questions

Five hard interview questions and how to answer them

The process of finding a new job is never easy. But let’s say you’ve done all the right things — you’ve kept your LinkedIn profile current, been dutifully participating in networking opportunities and got the letters of reference in your back pocket. And now you’ve locked down an interview. Great work — but are you ready? Interviewers can be tough, but the questions don’t have to become stumpers. We discuss some common interview questions that can get you dinged or distinguished.
Tough Interview Questions

Here are five hard interview questions to prepare for:

1. Why are you leaving your current job?
Careful, here. Don’t put down the boss (she might be the former roommate of the interviewer) or say you’re looking for more money (don’t discuss salary this early). Either say something positive about where you’re interviewing (“I’d like to see a new way of doing things/get exposure to a new industry”) or about acquiring a new type of experience that isn’t available at your current employer (a chance to work in a startup).
2. What is your current salary ?
First of all, this is actually a good question — they are probably somewhat interested if they want to know how much it will cost to get you. But don’t pump up the numbers — you may be asked to prove your salary with a letter from your current employer (once you have an offer) or with a recent pay stub.
But do feel free to mention other valuable perks — free health insurance, stock options, substantial vacation. Also consider looking up compensation information on sites like or to find out what is typical in your industry and geography.
3. Tell me about yourself.
This is a job interview, not a date. So keep it to things relevant to a professional relationship. Your education, a brief work history, and most recent career achievements (such as impressive sales growth, managing a team or being responsible for a large budget).
4. What is your greatest (professional) weakness?
Ugh. This isn’t just a hard interview question; it’s almost mean. Obviously being too honest could backfire.
On the other hand there are tendencies to give disingenuous responses like “I make work my life.” One safe idea is to phrase it as something you’re actively trying to improve (“I’d like to be better at group presentations”).
5. Why should I hire you?
This can feel like a minefield but the trick here is to have done your research on the company. Study their website, read about them in the press, research the bios of their leadership team. Then be prepared to align that information with personal examples.
For example, if this company is relatively new and relies on the latest technology, explain how you helped modernize your department by incorporating new software or automating processes.

Hard interview questions can become great opportunities

[bctt tweet=”Most interviewers are just trying to assess your experience, your ability to problem solve, and your emotional intelligence. “]
Questions like the ones above can feel like a trap, but the person asking it probably knows that. So here’s your chance to look well-prepared and thoughtful.
Keep your responses to only a minute or two, and less is more. Keep it relevant or stop talking. And remain calm — they were once on your side of the table.