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5 Tricky Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

September 29, 2023

Interviews are already overwhelming. As a job seeker, you want to put your best foot forward and give a positive impression to a hiring manager.

However, all too often, some questions throw you off your game. Sometimes the answers you provide to these questions can even make or break an interview.

As with any interview, it’s essential to prepare for any scenario or question posed. Here are the top 5 trickiest questions and how to answer them like a boss.

What is your greatest weakness?

To answer this question effectively, you should prepare a list of your weaknesses before having an interview. Then, identify the weaknesses that can be easily tied back to something that could also be a personal strength. Next, you would lead with a sample answer that embodies this duality. You can also explain how you mitigate your weakness.

Here’s an ideal sample response:

“I’m obsessed with the details and producing quality work. It’s an unintended consequence of being detail-oriented. I sometimes get so caught up that I set unrealistic expectations for myself.

I’ve been reflecting on this for some time. I’ve become more conscious of this behavior and have worked to be more confident in my work. I now trust that the time and effort I put into a project will always reflect in my end product.”

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This question is asked to see whether your career goals align with the company's open position. When providing an answer, you must showcase your professional desires are a good fit within a company.

The last thing a hiring manager wants to hear is that there might be a possibility you may have a short stint at their organization. Companies are looking for employees who will grow and stay at their businesses.

Some things to consider when crafting a response:

  • Demonstrating how your professional goals align with the role
  • Highlighting the skills you want to learn
  • Not getting too specific with job titles

Here’s an ideal sample response:

“In a few years, I see myself as a [ insert expertise ] thought leader. I want to do public speaking at industry events and be an authority in my space. I’m currently working on networking and continuing education opportunities to put these things in motion.”

Why are you interested in leaving your current role?

It’s way too easy to fall into the trap of bad-mouthing an employer when answering this question. After all, no hiring manager wants to hear disparaging remarks about another company. Given the platform is a job interview, it isn’t the appropriate time or place to share this type of commentary.

Frankly, the most effective response to this question is to demonstrate your desire to move forward in your career. This can be obtaining upward movement in your career trajectory or honing additional skills for your trade.

Here’s an ideal sample response:

“I’m looking to find a new opportunity and grow, especially an industry change. For years, I’ve been operating within [ insert your specialty ]. I’m eager to learn about a new field and broaden my knowledge. I’m equally excited about new challenges because I see them as an opportunity to innovate and create new solutions. I would also like to learn [ insert relevant skill here ] to become more well-rounded in my field.”

What are your salary requirements?

Employers will inquire about salary requirements to weed out candidates who are not in their price range and to establish leverage for any possible salary negotiations.

When this question comes up, you must be prepared to answer thoughtfully to be in a good position for future negotiations. Job seekers should be well-informed of market rates, the duties of the role and your desired pay range.

Some tips for answering this question include:

  • Conduct online research for salary trends regarding the role
  • Have a pre-planned range for your desired salary
  • Express your openness to negotiations

Here’s an ideal sample response:

“I’ve been doing some market research. I see that the base pay for a [ insert role here ] ranges from [ insert range here ]. Most companies pay bonuses as well.

Given my current salary, previous experience and the role’s duties, I would expect somewhere around [ insert your desired range ]. I’m also negotiable if there are other compensation and benefits factors I should consider.”

Explain a time when you failed

Talking about failures can be hard, and it can be challenging to discuss them during an interview. A hiring manager might ask this question to observe your past experience and your potential to learn from mistakes.

It’s always good to answer this question with personal reflection to showcase a growth mindset.

Here’s an ideal sample response:

“I personally see failure as an opportunity for growth. Early in my career, I struggled with moving too fast when executing my tasks. Sometimes, there would be lapses in communication with stakeholders.

I have since then learned the importance of slowing down, adjusting my pace and implementing weekly status updates to maintain alignment with others.”

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