How to Respond to Five of the Most Difficult Interview Questions

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An article by contributor Rachael Murphey.stumped

Job interviews are often stressful. However, being prepared for interviews will help you gain confidence and land you the job you want. Read on for answers to some of the toughest interview questions.

1. “Why should I hire you?”

The employer wants you to discuss how your skills match the position for which they’re hiring. First, examine the job posting for the position you’re seeking. Write down the qualifications they’re searching for in an ideal candidate. Then, decide how your skills meet the employer’s expectations. For example, if they’re looking for someone with five years of experience for a teaching job, then be sure to tell them not just how you meet those expectations, but also highlight your accomplishments. If you were promoted or given an award by your employer, brag about it. See’s article on reducing nerves and putting your best foot forward.

2. “Why do you want to leave your current job?”

To answer this, don’t disparage your current employer or boss. Doing so will make you seem ungrateful or difficult. Instead, tell the hiring manager that you feel you aren’t quite challenged enough at your job. Then, follow this by telling them what you believe you would enjoy about the job for which you’re interviewing.

3. “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

This question is an inquiry about your priorities and goals. To answer this one, spend some time preparing a short list of personal career goals before you go in to interview. Make sure your list relates to the job you’re seeking.

4. “What is your biggest weakness?”

To answer this question satisfactorily, never admit to a major flaw. The employer will eliminate you if you list a deal-breaking weakness, such as “I have a hard time getting along with my co-workers.” The key is to turn your weakness into an asset. For example, say something like, “I’m a worrier. I’m always overly conscientious about meeting deadlines,” or “I have trouble saying ‘no.’ At my last job I served on three committees while also meeting productivity levels.”

5. “Are you going to require maternity leave?”

This is one of several illegal questions that interviewers should know not to ask, but it does happen. According to a Charlotte NC Employment Law Attorney, if you do encounter questions that pry into your personal life, marital status, religious affiliation, or other factors that cannot legally be considered in employment decisions, the best response is “There is nothing in my personal life that will negatively affect my ability to perform this job.”
The key to answering these tough questions is to prepare answers in advance. Pay careful attention to the job posting, and learn as much as you can about the hiring organization beforehand.

Rachael Murphey is a recent graduate from the University of Colorado Boulder. She writes on entrepreneurship, finance, and personal success. She currently lives in Denver with her dog Charlie.

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One response to “How to Respond to Five of the Most Difficult Interview Questions”

  1. Pam Lassila says:

    I would really like to have an interview coach! I feel like that would take so much stress off of the interview. If you got to practice a few times with your coach then you would feel so much more prepared and less nervous.