Nail the Interview

How to Answer the 10 Most Challenging Interview Questions

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Congratulations, you got the interview! Now you need to do two things – convince them that you are the best person for the job and don’t say anything stupid. Sounds simple, but it’s not. The old saying “You only get one chance to make a good first impression” sounds like it was written for job interviews. You’ve got to ask good questions and have great answers for the difficult questions asked of you. One real-life extreme example is a candidate that I was interviewing for a job at our company. When asked what skills or knowledge they felt they needed to learn more about they said “Nothing. There is no one who knows more than me and there is nothing new I need to learn“. Obviously, they did not get the job.

Answer the following questions correctly and you have a really good shot of getting an offer:

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1. What do you know about our company?

Company research (before the interview) is critical. If you’ve done your homework and done research on the company prior to the interview (this is a topic covered in We hope you know this already, but when you’re going to a job interview it’s important to research the company at length before you step foot into the building. This means that you should be armed with all the basic information available on the internet before your interviewer meets you in person–things like the names of upper management members, products or services, basic mission, and so on. If you don’t find out everything that you need to find out, (or you forget to look) do not blurt out anything that will make you look like you didn’t research the company beforehand. Don’t ever ask “What does your company do?”.

2. What is your work ethic?

We all want to have a reasonable workday and no one wants to work a job where they are working 14 hours a day, but the interview is not the place to bring this up. Rather, you will want to answer with a politically correct response. You should keep the following in mind in your response:

Make sure you indicate that you have a positive outlook, you are a team player, you respect coworkers and you are honest and sincere. A positive outlook is one of the most important qualities of a good work ethic. Additionally, teamwork and respect for your coworkers are at the top of the list. the company or do some research on the Internet to get the answer to this question. Also, don’t ask if you can change your work hours.

Congratulations, you got the interview! Now you need to do two things - convince them that you are the best person for the job and don't say anything stupid.Click To Tweet

3. What are your expectations?

Vacation, personal days, medical benefits, etc. are all important pieces of information that you will need before making a decision (assuming you get an offer), but this is not the right answer to this question and you should try to avoid specifics. The “right” answer is something like “I want to be in an environment where I can contribute, learn, and grow as an employee. I have a great deal to offer and am looking forward to this opportunity.”

4. Tell me about yourself

Now is not the time to go into your life history.  If you did your company research you will know exactly what strengths and skills are required for this specific position. Your answer should try and show the hiring manager that you possess all of the skills and experience required for the job.  Don’t go on about the experience you may have that isn’t related to the job. 

5. Where do you see yourself in . . .

Another one of the most dreaded interview questions.  The real key is not where you see yourself in five years. Rather, you should align your answer to the corporate goals.  If you expect to be CEO of the company in 5 years, this is probably not the best answer for the interview (unless you are interviewing for the company president’s job).

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6. Why should we hire you?

The obvious answer is because you are the best fit for the job and this is your opportunity to ensure they know that. You will want to ensure that they know you deliver great results, have the skills required for the job (speak to the major skills required), and that you are a good fit for the company and the team.  Also check out 9 ReasonsWhy I Won’t Hire You.

7. What are your salary requirements?

Another potential trap. Certainly, you will want more than you are earning now. and everyone wants to make a little bit of money doing a dream job. During the job interview, however, the trick is to make it seem like it’s your dream position regardless of the salary. You want to appear passionate, not desperate for just anything that will pay your bills. No employer is going to be naive enough to believe you don’t want to know, but if the interviewer does not prompt you to talk about your salary requirements, keep quiet about the topic until it’s brought up.

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8. What do you do in your spare time?

Great question, they probably already know a lot about you from your social networks. Talk about the hobbies that keep you active like golf, tennis, or skiing. Team sports are key (team player, etc.). Ensure you let them know about any volunteer work that you do or have done. This shows that you have concerns for others besides yourself. Attending seminars, and industry-related speaking engagements shows that you have a desire to learn new things and keep at the top of your game.

9. Why do you want to leave your current job?

You know the old saying – “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Even if you had a horrible time with your current or previous employers, don’t badmouth them to the interviewer. You’ll just leave the impression of being disgruntled and unprofessional. Instead, focus on expanding your knowledge of the industry and wanting to enhance your career.

10. Do you have any questions?

Yes, you do (make sure you have a sufficient list). Don’t ask any questions that have already been answered by the interviewer (that means you were not listening). You should have your “list of questions”, make sure you have more than enough in case any are answered before you get to ask the question.

CareerAlley Interview Partners

It’s no secret that job interviews are nerve-wracking, especially if you feel the position is a much-needed stepping stone into a fulfilling product management career. Take a look at CareerAlley's interview resources to improve your interview skills and nail your next interview.


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