How to ace an interview nailing the 10 most tricky questions

How to ace an interview nailing the 10 most tricky questions

No two interviews are ever the same. Every hiring manager will ask different questions and conduct the interview in different ways. But, some questions are nearly ubiquitous to the interview process. To help prepare, Alison Doyle has compiled a list of the 10 most common interview questions which we’ve collected for you below. All servicemembers know the importance of planning, and job interviews are no different – know the questions, practice your answers, and you’ll be more likely to succeed.

What is your greatest strength?

Related: For the latest veteran jobs postings around the country, visit the Military.com Job Search section.

This might seem like a no-brainer question to answer, but be careful. Don’t use this as an opportunity to soapbox about how wonderful you are; pick a specific ability or skill that relates to the job you’re applying for and talk about it. This is one of the easiest times during an interview to sell yourself, so hit the sweet spot of playing up your strengths without boasting. Describe what your greatest skill is, and then pick two or three examples that depict it in action.

What is your greatest weakness?

This question can trip up a lot of people, but not for the reason you might think. While it’s never a good idea to let your heart bleed out as you describe your greatest failings in life, this also isn’t the time to practice Orwellian doublespeak. The trick is to talk about a genuine work-related weakness, then explain how you handled it. Don’t say that your greatest weakness is perfectionism or being too early – those are strengths, and the interviewer won’t be impressed. What really stands out is the ability to accurately self-analyze and change accordingly. It shows maturity, insight, and translates well in your work.

How do you handle stress and pressure?

Stress and pressure are ubiquitous in the working world. No matter how easy-going your workplace might be, there are always problems, snags, and emergencies that interrupt plans. They key to answering this question is acknowledging how you overcome personal feelings and solve problems. Whether your first response is to take 60 seconds to breathe and clear your head or write down solutions on a scrap of paper, emphasize your ability to focus on solutions, self-motivate through adversity, and sidestep panic.

Describe a difficult work situation or project and how you overcame it.

Similar to answering “how do you handle stress and pressure,” this is an opportunity to talk about your problem solving abilities. This question is best answered with a focus on a single example since that’s what the question is asking for. Start by setting up the situation, then talk about how you solved it. Cap off your answer with a short and sweet explanation of your thought process, goals, and problem-solving method.

How do you evaluate success?

Your answer to this question will tell employers whether or not you fit the office culture and if you would be a motivated employee. It’s a broad, nebulous question, but don’t let that scare you. Pick a few measures of success that relate to the job you’re applying for; success can mean fostering good communication, completing projects ahead of schedule, or finding innovative solutions to certain problems.

Why are you leaving or have left your job?

If you left on unfriendly terms with your previous employer, your gut reaction might to be to pick apart every single thing that was wrong with them. Do not, at any time for any reason, do this. Unless you were laid off, focus on your inspired need to find new opportunities. You might want to focus on a different kind of work, or perhaps there wasn’t any room to grow at your old company. Whatever the reason, the best answers to this question will focus on personal and professional growth.

Why do you want this job?

The answer to this question will be similar to the one above, except instead of explaining why you want to grow, target your answer to the job and company you’re applying for. Talk about opportunities the prospective employer will give you and how you will benefit them as a company. No matter the type of job or pay, communicate your interest with specific examples and short plugs about your abilities.

Why should we hire you?

Don’t just answer this question by saying, “because I’m awesome,” or a wordy, detailed version thereof. This is an opportunity to talk about what makes you the right candidate for the position. This requires knowing what the employer is looking for, and then matching your skills and experience to it.

What are your goals for the future?

This question hones in on your ambition: an interviewer who asks this wants to know what you’re attempting to achieve. Discuss your plans for the future so that your personal ambition benefits the company.

Tell me about yourself.

Arguably, this is the broadest possible question an interviewer can ask, so it’s important to be prepared. If you’re not good at coming up with answers on the fly, then you may begin to ramble and trail off into personal anecdotes. Answer this question by talking about your professional self: what you can do, and what you’ve accomplished. This is an opportunity to create a well-defined snapshot that will give the employer a good impression.

Related: Does your resume pass the 6-second test? Get a FREE assessment.

Problem solver. Creative. Works well under pressure.

These are key personality traits employers will be seeking no matter what position they’re hiring for—and chances are, your resume probably already showcases them in some way. But these days, hiring managers from some firms aren’t content to take job seekers at their word—they want to see it to believe it.

And that’s why some companies have turned the interview process on its head. Instead of the traditional questions you might expect in an interview, they’re giving candidates problems to solve—problems which, at first glance, might seem totally random.

Google, for example, has been known to ask, “How many people are using Facebook in San Francisco at 2:30 PM on a Friday?” Hewlett-Packard asks, “If Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it?”

What? Where do you even begin?

Here’s the secret (yes, there’s a secret): Your interviewer isn’t necessarily looking for a right answer. He wants to determine how quickly you can think on your feet, how you’ll approach a difficult situation, and, most importantly, whether you can remain positive and proactive and make progress in the face of a challenge.

So, if one of these “problem-solving” questions gets thrown your way—relax, be yourself, and tackle it calmly. Talk the interviewer through your internal thought process, so he can gain insight into the way you think and analyze information.

Below are some of the toughest types of questions employers are known to ask—and your guide for how to ace them.

1. Design an Evacuation Plan for This Office Building

(Inspired by Google)

As with any complex on-the-job challenge, the first step to answering a question like this is to clearly identify the problem. If designing an evacuation plan was really your task on the job, you definitely wouldn’t be able to solve it in an hour-long meeting—you’d need a lot more information. So, when an employer asks these types of questions, the idea is actually to see if you can pinpoint and explain the key challenges involved.

For example, in the question of an evacuation plan, you’ll have to know the nature of the disaster before you can answer it. A fire would have a different plan than a hurricane or earthquake, right? You’d also need to know how many staircases, elevators, and people are in the building.

When you’re presented with a complicated question like this, don’t be afraid to answer it with more questions. What the interviewer is really looking for is that you can think through the information you’ll need to reach a solution, and then ask for it—or explain how you’d seek it out—in a structured, logical way.

2. How Many Tennis Balls Can You Fit into a Limousine?

(Inspired by Monitor Group)

1,000? 10,000? 100,000? In these types of questions, the interviewer doesn’t necessarily want an exact number—he wants to make sure that you understand what’s being asked of you, and that you can set into motion a systematic and logical way to respond.

So, just take a deep breath and start thinking through the math. (Yes, it’s OK to ask for a pen and paper!)

For example, start by estimating the cubic inches of a limo and the volume of a tennis ball (also in cubic inches). Pretend the limo is a box to simplify things for yourself, and just make a note out loud that you’re approximating. Divide one into the other, make allowances for the seats in the limo, and move from there. Even if you don’t know the exact measurements, the real goal is to impress your potential employers with your ability to get to the heart of the problem quickly and with purpose.

3. How Much Should You Charge to Wash All of the Windows in Montana?

(Inspired by Google)

Remember that not all questions must have a complicated answer. As a matter of fact, with a question like this, most candidates don’t even provide a correct answer. Employers are simply asking the question because it is difficult to prepare for, and they want to see firsthand how quickly you can think on your feet.

Prepared responses may cut it for open-ended questions such as “Tell me about yourself,” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” But, employers want to see that you remain calm when you feel uncertain—and that you are able to think outside of the box if they take you “off-script.”

Yes, this question is especially broad—but you could get around that by naming what you consider to be a fair price per window rather trying to figure out the number of windows in the area. Talk it out. You both know that there’s not enough information to get a completely accurate answer, so relax and see where your mind goes.

4. Explain the Internet to an 8-Year Old in 3 Sentences

(Inspired by Microsoft)

The point of questions like this is to test your ability to communicate complex ideas in simple language.

Whether you describe the Internet as a “complex series of tubes” or as “the cloud,” the key here is to back up your explanation with easy-to-understand logic and facts. What you say doesn’t matter as much as how you can clarify and defend it by answering the most important questions that the employer is looking for: What? How? Why?

For example, try this:

What? Use your first sentence to establish a basic premise: “The Internet is a series of tubes.”

How? Your second sentence can describe the first: “The tubes connect information that is stored on computers throughout the world.”

Why? Finally, close by summing up the purpose of the Internet: “It helps people to access global information quickly and easily.”

Yes, interview questions like these four can be more than a little intimidating. But, they can also give you a chance to show an employer who you are, how you think, and if your work style is a match for the position.

Popular interview questions you may be asked while interviewing for a job

Updated January 2016 | Comments: 0

How to ace an interview nailing the 10 most tricky questions

Don’t sweat tough interview questions. Be prepared.

En español | You’ve landed an interview with your ideal employer — congratulations! Now it’s time to prepare for the interview.

The 10 questions below provide opportunities to present your best self and place the focus on your skills, your energy and the value you would bring to the employer.

It’s a good idea to practice your responses, either with friends or family or by yourself in front of a mirror. It will help put you at ease during the actual interview.

AARP’s Work page, www.aarp.org/Work has great tools and tips on managing your job search. In the meantime, read on for tips on handling tough interview questions.

1. Tell me about yourself. Make your answer short and sweet. Stick to skills and experience that relate to the specific job for which you’re applying. Resist the impulse to stress your years of experience. It’s more important to talk about your skills and achievements that show you can deliver. Emphasize your flexibility and positive, work-related attitude.

2. Why are you looking for a job? Keep it brief. A straightforward answer is best. For example, “My organization was forced to downsize.” Avoid negative statements about yourself, your work or your ability to get along with others. Never criticize former employers or coworkers.

3. You haven’t worked for a long time. Why not? You may have gaps in employment for many reasons. Be honest. Speak confidently about the experience you gained during the gaps that could transfer to on-the-job skills. For instance, if you were a caregiver, you likely managed complex personal finance issues. As a volunteer, you might have worked with diverse groups and managed challenging schedules.

4. What are you looking for? It takes a lot of thinking to be ready for this question. Avoid speaking in generalities. Be prepared to talk about the kind of work you’re interested in doing and how your skills translate to the employer’s needs.

5. Aren’t you overqualified for this position? Even though overqualified can be shorthand for “old” or “expensive”, it’s important to stay positive. Express your enthusiasm for the job and pride in your qualifications. Explain what makes you interested in this position at this point in your career — such as wanting to apply your skills to a new field, not wanting any management responsibilities, or to achieve more flexibility and work-life balance.

6. We have state-of-the-art technology. Would you be able to jump right in? Show you are adaptable and tech-savvy. Provide specific examples of projects you’ve done that required computer skills, computer programs you know, and your familiarity with social media. Emphasize any training you’ve had to keep your skills up to date.

7. We don’t have many employees who are your age. Would that bother you? Explain that you believe your age would be an asset, you are eager to learn and it doesn’t matter who helps you. Describe recent experiences, whether at work or in other situations, where age diversity has been an asset.

Federal law bars employers from considering age in employment decisions. Though it’s not illegal to be asked your age, the question could be a red flag about the employer’s commitment to age diversity. Know your rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Also, read the AARP Age Discrimination Fact Sheet.

8. What’s your biggest weakness? This is a reverse invitation to promote your skills. Do it with an answer that puts you in a good light. For example, I tend to be too detail-oriented, but I work hard to control that. Keep it simple — and smile.

9. What are your salary requirements? Try to postpone this question until you receive a job offer. Prepare by knowing the going rate in your area. A good resource is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you don’t know the range and the interviewer persists, reply, What salary range are you working with? The interviewer may very well tell you.

10. Do you have any questions? Show your interest and initiative by asking specific questions about the organization and what you can expect in the job. Use your questions to demonstrate how your skills can contribute to the organization. Answering no to this question says you’re not really interested in the job.

When your candidate reaches interview stage, it’s easy to think your work is done. How things go from here is solely down to them, right?

This is not the case, and thinking like that could cost you the placement.

Your knowledge and experience is invaluable to your candidates, and it’s in both your interests to help them out.

Here are some things you can do to help your candidate nail that dream role (and secure your fee!).

Show them the S.T.A.R Method

How to ace an interview nailing the 10 most tricky questionsThere is a strong chance some competency-based interview questions will come up during your candidate’s interview (e.g. questions that begin with “Tell me about a time…”).

These are the kinds of questions that candidates find difficult to answer – especially if they’re unprepared.

Introducing your candidate to the S.T.A.R method will give them a useful framework for these types of questions.

S.T.A.R is an acronym for:

Situation: Describe the situation that you were in – provide some context around your example if necessary but keep it concise

Task: Explain the task that this challenge presented to you

Action: Describe the actions you took to complete the task

Result: Share the outcome you achieved (always good to share numbers at this point).

Introduce them to this method and your candidates will become interview super S.T.A.Rs (see what I did there?) and they’ll also see you more as a recruitment expert – the key to earning candidate loyalty points!

Prepare them for abstract interview questions

How to ace an interview nailing the 10 most tricky questionsInterviewers love to throw abstract questions at candidates to gauge honesty.

Our Chief Fish Wendy is a bit of an expert at this, and has been known to ask interviewees things like: “What 3 words would your Mum use to describe you?”- one that throws many a candidate off!

The good thing about abstract questions like these is that employers tend to ask the same ones, so you can give your candidate a list of a few humdingers to practice!

But the real trick to giving a good answer to an abstract interview question is to be entirely honest, show their personality and try not to give the answer they think will get them the job.

Abstract questions are about getting under the candidate’s skin, so the best way to pass the test is give the interviewer the insights they’re digging for.

Run through their weaknesses

The one question everyone dreads at an interview is this: “What is your biggest weakness?”

But it’s easy to coach your candidates to answer this. The important thing is that they understand that the interviewer isn’t asking this fishing for a reason not to hire them – it’s an opportunity for them to demonstrate important qualities like self-awareness, accountability and the desire to always improve.

Running through weakness prior to interview will mean they’re totally prepared and also gives you some insight to pre-empt any potential post-interview objections from the interviewer too.

Make sure they know their CV inside out

How to ace an interview nailing the 10 most tricky questionsThere’s nothing worse than a candidate who doesn’t know their own CV. All this does is scream out to the interviewer that they’ve embellished their CV or thrown it together quickly to get an interview.

But really, the candidate should be able to talk through their employment history without looking at their CV. They should also be prepared to elaborate on areas such as projects, achievements, duration of employment and the reasons they left a job.

Interviews can be stressful, so it’s easy for your candidate’s mind to go blank. Running through your candidate’s CV with them to jog their memory before an interview will avoid any embarrassing moments where they forget the last few jobs they’ve had!

Perform a mock interview

They say that practice makes perfect and this is definitely the case when it comes to job interviews.

If a candidate is nervous or the interview process particularly intense, performing a mock interview in advance is a brilliant way to get them ready and iron out any stumbling blocks.

The whole point of the mock interview is to help build your candidate’s confidence before the real event, so make sure you give them plenty of time to absorb your feedback and don’t be too hard on them. You can leave that to the interviewer!

Download the eBook below to learn how to prep your candidates for interview and increase their chances of landing the job.

How to ace an interview nailing the 10 most tricky questions

How to ace an interview nailing the 10 most tricky questions

About the Author: David is a Senior Growth Outreach Specialist at Firefish. After working as a 360 recruiter, he loves innovating recruitment with Firefish Software.

If you are actively looking for work, you know the importance of adequately preparing for a job interview. These meetings, more than any other components of your search, are the events that will determine your success.

You can prepare yourself by gaining a thorough knowledge of the company, how the organization is positioned in the marketplace, their major competitors and both the long and short-term goals they hope to accomplish. You can, hopefully, also research the hiring manager and identify his or her immediate concerns. Moreover, you can practice your responses to frequently asked questions so that you feel well prepared to list your skills and accomplishments with confidence.

But how can you prepare for the tricky behavioral style questions that will likely be asked? Such questions seem impossible to anticipate, as they require event-specific answers. The good news is, preparing for behavioral style questions is easier than you think. For information and tips, please see my earlier article, 3 Key Tips to Help You Ace the Behavioral Style Interview.

Nevertheless, there is one additional wrinkle to be added to your interview preparation . and it is a big one. Many times interviewers will ask you to provide examples of times when you were disappointed with your performance: you fell short of your goals, had a conflict with a boss or coworker or failed your team. Obviously, these types of negatively focused questions can be tricky!

It is helpful to realize that the goal of the interviewer is not to embarrass you. Rather, they want to determine your self-awareness, your attitude and your ability to take direction when needed. Therefore, you need to frame your responses to underscore what you have learned from the experience and how you grew from your earlier mistakes.

These types of questions will generally fall into three categories:

Your interpersonal skills (or lack thereof)
Typical question: Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a boss/team member/customer or client.

How best to respond : This is when a “sandwich” response will come in handy. Begin with a positive, give an example of the difficult situation (briefly so as not to dwell on the unpleasant event) and end with a key learning experience.

Example: I pride myself on my personality and my ability to get along with most anyone. So it initially threw me when I had to work closely with a coworker who constantly criticized my work. After trying my best to get along with this person, I realized that he was feeling threatened by me as I had been assigned some projects that had formerly been under his control. Once I figured this out, I turned to him for advice and suggestions, and his criticism soon softened. He even became an advocate for my work in various managerial meetings. This experience taught me that, when these types of situations arise, you can generally resolve most any conflicts by taking the time to understand the other person’s motives and needs.

Your personal weaknesses that have led to making professional mistakes
Typical question: Give me an example of a time when your actions caused your team to fall short of their goals.

How best to respond: The weaknesses questions are particularly challenging. They open the door to exposing not only mistakes you’ve made, but character flaws as well. This is the time to remember that brevity is best! You don’t want to give a laundry list of your shortcomings: lack of personal responsibility, overlooking important details, failure to follow through, etc. Also, make sure the example you cite is not a weakness that would have a major impact on the position you want.

It is helpful to frame your response in the past tense, let the interviewer know you are aware of your weakness and the steps you are taking to overcome your flaw. Remember your interviewer is looking for attitude and awareness.

Example: When I was new to this field, I didn’t anticipate the lead-time that was necessary to market our products effectively. I had assumed that, once the widgets hit the stores, they would garner ample word of mouth to fly off of the shelves. It didn’t take me long, however, to realize that sufficient pre-production marketing was necessary to alert the public to the benefits of buying XYZ widgets. So I learned two valuable lessons: (1) thorough planning, research and adequate lead-time are important and (2) uneducated assumptions lead to mistakes.

How you bounce back from setbacks and failures
Typical question: Tell me about a time when you were disappointed in your performance.

How best to respond: Your response to these types of questions should be similar to how you would reply to a question about your weaknesses. You want to briefly state the situation but focus mainly on how you recovered and what you learned from the experience.

Example: When I first became team lead, I felt somewhat overwhelmed by competing obligations. In addition to my added responsibilities, the company was in the middle of launching a major new product. Unfortunately, my team missed one of the deadlines we were supposed to meet. Although this wasn’t critical to the success of the product launch, I did recognize the importance of effective prioritizing in a leadership position. I’m proud to say that, since that experience, I’ve always given my projects the planning and time they need to be successful. In fact, although I’ve now been a team lead for years, I have never missed another deadline.

Like the examples above, with sufficient forethought and planning, you can handle even the trickiest of behavioral style interview questions. Use the job description as your guide, anticipate questions they might ask based on the required skills and experience in the posting and remember to focus on what you learned from any negative experiences you have encountered.

With thorough preparation and a confident attitude, you are well positioned to ace the interview . no matter how difficult the questions. Better yet, you just might make a good enough impression to land that job you really want!

Gearing up for your RN job search? The interview may be the make-it-or-break-it moment in your nursing job search.

Luckily, with a little preparation, you can be ready to face the toughest nurse interview questions out there.

To help prepare you to answer the most difficult nursing interview questions, we spoke with Summer Bryant, MSN CMSRN, who serves on the board of directors for Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses.

In addition, Bryant serves as a nurse manager at an academic medical center in the Midwest, where she manages a staff that includes 40-45 nurses and typically interviews around 10-20 nurse candidates each year.

Bryant spoke with us about the hardest nurse interview questions she asks in an interview and what she’s looking for in a great answer.

10 Toughest Nursing Interview Questions and Answers

1. Why do you want to work for this hospital/organization?

In this nurse interview question, which is often her first, Bryant is looking to find out not only that nurses have taken the time to learn about the organization, but what is particularly attractive to them.

“Sometimes people won’t have an answer to this question and if other parts of the interview are great, I will still hire them. But I am looking for people who particularly want to work at this hospital.”

2. What are your values?

“This is one of my newest favorites [among nurse interview questions],” she explained.

“While there aren’t exactly right and wrong answers to this question, I am looking for someone with values that are either shared by our current team or which will augment our current team. If their values are really different, they wouldn’t enjoy the team any more than we would enjoy working with them.”

Bryant reflected that if the candidate answered this nurse interview question by only mentioning superficial things, it could sway her opinion.

She also noted that candidates should have the same concerns about what values are promoted and upheld in the workplace of their potential employer.

“I would suggest that candidates ask this question of the people interviewing them, to find out if they think the team is a good fit for them,” she added.

3. What drew you to the nursing profession?

Some nurse managers might ask this common nursing interview question in place of the one about values, or as a follow-up question. It also gives the candidate the opportunity to tell more of their personal story.

The hardest part about answering this nurse interview question is that you want to be honest, without sounding trite. “I just want to help people” is a phrase that has been heard too often in nurse job interviews.

So think about the real motivators in your own life, practice what you want to say, and keep it relatively short.

4. Tell me about a time when you inadvertently caused conflict?

These types of nursing interview questions and answers may make some candidates uncomfortable, but they are asked for a purpose.

“I follow this question up with, ‘What would you do differently if you had to do it over?’” Bryant remarked. “A great answer to this question shows self-reflection and a willingness to improve.”

5. What can you bring to our team?

“I ask this question because it provides them with an opportunity to share their unique strengths that may not have already come up in the interview,” she explained.

Nurses might want to provide specific examples of how they contributed to their current or previous team as part of their answer.

6. What are your weaknesses?/What is your area of greatest opportunity?

“I actually don’t like this question all that much and only use it when necessary. It might actually signal to the interviewee that the interview isn’t going that well,” Bryant commented.

But how should you respond if you are asked this question?

“Of course you want to spin your weakness into a positive and/or show that you are willing to invest in your own self-improvement.”

7. If I called your previous supervisor, what would they tell me about you?

“I get all kinds of good stuff out of this question because applicants know that I can verify their response,” she noted. “To answer this appropriately you need to be very honest. Hopefully there are positive things and the supervisor will substantiate that.”

“But they may have also had a difficult relationship with a prior supervisor and this gives them a chance to speak to that and to explain what steps they did to try to improve the relationship,” Bryant continued.

8. How would you define a leader?

“This is an important question because all nurses are leaders. Even if they aren’t formally leading their peers, they are advocating for their patients and looking for ways to improve the practice,” she said. “I want to know how a nurse thinks about leadership.”

The worst answers to this nurse interview question, in Bryant’s opinion, would be those that show an attitude that the manager should be fixing all their problems.

9. What are your career goals?

“For many nurses, working in med-surg is a starting point—and that is fine. But I want to know where it is that they want to go. Is there another specialty they are hoping to move to? Are they interested in getting certified, or being involved with the unit or joining professional organizations?” Bryant explained.

You don’t have to have your entire nursing career goals planned out, but a little thought and self-reflection can help you be ready for these types of nursing interview questions and answers.

10. What questions would you like to ask me/us?

Bryant offered this tip: be prepared to be interviewed not just by the nurse manager, but by other members of the unit.

“When you meet with other staff nurses, this is a great time to ask questions like how they work together as a team or how many patients they have each shift,” she stated. “You will spend more time with the other staff nurses than the nurse manager so you want to make sure it is a good fit for you.”

Nurse managers and staff will expect that you have done some research, so be prepared with a few relevant questions about the facility, unit and/or job.

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Job interviews are nerve-racking at the best of times – but if you get thrown this curly question, chances are you won’t nail the answer.

How to ace an interview nailing the 10 most tricky questions

June 9, 2020 9:04am

They can be a nerve-racking experiences, but there are several easy ways to appear more confident and successful when attending job interviews.

They can be a nerve-racking experiences, but there are several easy ways to appear more confident and successful when attending job interviews.

Face-to-face interviews are increasingly being replaced by virtual ones. Picture: iStock Source:istock

Like death and taxes, job interviews are an inevitable – and often dreaded – part of life.

And as the coronavirus crisis continues to wreak havoc on the economy and job market, the stakes are even higher than usual as more workers compete for fewer roles.

On top of all that pressure, social distancing and COVID-19 lockdowns mean more and more employers are ditching traditional face-to-face interviews in favour of virtual ones, which bring a raft of new challenges.

That’s why Aussie recruitment firm Talent Web has just launched a virtual interview program, In Focus, which is designed to help jobseekers put their best virtual foot forward.

Talent Web’s Jason Ajai told news.com.au a recent jump in job interview-related online searches showed Aussies were facing an uncertain job market at the moment.

In fact, he said there had been a recent spike of around 30,000 searches for general interview tips per month and an 80 per cent increase in searches for common interview questions in the past month, while other internet users were after information on redundancy packages and CV advice as well as specific online interview tips.

“This is a forced, new medium for jobseekers – whether you like it or not, jobseekers will have to improve their online, virtual interview skills to ensure they’re better prepared than the next person who applied for the role – and the challenge is that with more jobseekers in the marketplace and less roles, it’s even more important to get it right,” he said.

TOP MISTAKES

Mr Ajai said in his 30-year career he had seen many blunders, and estimated around 60 per cent of people were “poorly prepared” for job interviews.

And when it comes to online interview slip-ups, he said most related to tech problems.

“Tech can be tricky sometimes – if you forget to charge your device and it fails halfway through the interview, it is a disaster that could absolutely cost you the job,” he said.

“Especially when you take into account the fact that there are now more people to choose from, if you stuff up, they might just go straight to the next person.”

Another mishap was poor setups.

“Poor lighting means people can’t really see your face on their device – and if they can’t see your face, they can’t see your eyes, they can’t engage and they can’t get a sense of whether you’re smiling or using any mannerisms – that’s a big trip-me-up,” Mr Ajai said.

“Another problem is poor camera angles – if people are setting up their phone on their desk five inches below their face, it means the interviewer gets a view of up their nose.

“And then there’s poor framing – if your face is not squarely in the frame your head will be cut off,” he said.

How to ace an interview nailing the 10 most tricky questions

Traditional job interviews are becoming less and less common. Source:Getty Images

He said the best advice was to prepare thoroughly and be ready 10 minutes before the interview starts to troubleshoot any issues that arose.

“Make sure you’re fully charged, turn your notifications to silent and make sure you’re in a quiet room – and if you’re in a place that doesn’t lend itself well to an interview, such as in the kitchen or laundry, choose a virtual background that’s appropriate for an interview,” he advised.

“Virtual interviews require different skills than you would need in-person.”

Finally – and perhaps most critical of all – was the challenge of establishing a connection.

“Many people can’t engage and find it difficult to be open, warm and to show their softer side,” Mr Ajai said.

It’s a problem that’s especially important to rectify in virtual interviews, as jobseekers have less opportunity to strike up a rapport with their potential boss-to-be.

“With in-person interviews, we used to use the walk from reception to the interview room as a chance for a bit of an icebreaker – you’d ask, ‘How are you, how is your day?’ – but that doesn’t exist virtually, so you need to try and engage and build rapport in other ways,” he said.

Another challenge is that virtual interviews typically last half the time of an in-person one, leaving the interviewer with the challenge of “forming crisp, concise responses and delivering them in no more than a couple of minutes”.

“Body language is another hurdle – as we only get to see the person’s face, we miss the opportunity to see their overall body language,” Mr Ajai said.

“Visual cues are harder to pick up on and so concentration, an appropriate posture and a focus on not fidgeting are also things interviewees must consider.

“Lag times also pose an issue – in person you can clearly see when someone ends a question or comment and seeks a response, but in a virtual setting this is harder to pick up and so talking over people can be an issue.”

One trick to creating warmth and connection virtually with a complete stranger is to stick something personal – such as holiday or family photos or a note from your kids – on your computer out of view which will help you to “tap into your emotions” and come across better on-camera.

It’s also essential to maintain eye contact – and not to fall into the trap of looking at the interviewer’s face on the screen instead of at your laptop camera.

“Many of us do interviews while looking at our screen – but in order to engage (with the interviewer) you need to look at the camera. Your eyes are the portal to who you are, but if you’re looking away I won’t get that,” he said.

‘TRICKIEST’ INTERVIEW QUESTION

Mr Ajai also shared two notoriously difficult interview questions that most jobseekers consistently failed to nail.

The “trickiest” one asks interviewees to “Describe a significant achievement you have been responsible for?” followed closely by “Can you describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way?”

Mr Ajai said the questions regularly tripped people up as employers were looking for three separate parts to a response, which many people ignored.

“People find these tricky because they miss critical elements of the answer,” he said.

“These questions should have a Challenge, Action and Outcome as part of the answer and the response needs to be delivered crisply within just a couple of minutes.”

In other words, to ace these questions you’ll need to succinctly explain a problem you faced, your course of action and how that decision solved the issue.

Job interviews are nerve-racking at the best of times – but if you get thrown this curly question, chances are you won’t nail the answer.

How to ace an interview nailing the 10 most tricky questions

June 9, 2020 9:04am

They can be a nerve-racking experiences, but there are several easy ways to appear more confident and successful when attending job interviews.

They can be a nerve-racking experiences, but there are several easy ways to appear more confident and successful when attending job interviews.

Face-to-face interviews are increasingly being replaced by virtual ones. Picture: iStock Source:istock

Like death and taxes, job interviews are an inevitable – and often dreaded – part of life.

And as the coronavirus crisis continues to wreak havoc on the economy and job market, the stakes are even higher than usual as more workers compete for fewer roles.

On top of all that pressure, social distancing and COVID-19 lockdowns mean more and more employers are ditching traditional face-to-face interviews in favour of virtual ones, which bring a raft of new challenges.

That’s why Aussie recruitment firm Talent Web has just launched a virtual interview program, In Focus, which is designed to help jobseekers put their best virtual foot forward.

Talent Web’s Jason Ajai told news.com.au a recent jump in job interview-related online searches showed Aussies were facing an uncertain job market at the moment.

In fact, he said there had been a recent spike of around 30,000 searches for general interview tips per month and an 80 per cent increase in searches for common interview questions in the past month, while other internet users were after information on redundancy packages and CV advice as well as specific online interview tips.

“This is a forced, new medium for jobseekers – whether you like it or not, jobseekers will have to improve their online, virtual interview skills to ensure they’re better prepared than the next person who applied for the role – and the challenge is that with more jobseekers in the marketplace and less roles, it’s even more important to get it right,” he said.

TOP MISTAKES

Mr Ajai said in his 30-year career he had seen many blunders, and estimated around 60 per cent of people were “poorly prepared” for job interviews.

And when it comes to online interview slip-ups, he said most related to tech problems.

“Tech can be tricky sometimes – if you forget to charge your device and it fails halfway through the interview, it is a disaster that could absolutely cost you the job,” he said.

“Especially when you take into account the fact that there are now more people to choose from, if you stuff up, they might just go straight to the next person.”

Another mishap was poor setups.

“Poor lighting means people can’t really see your face on their device – and if they can’t see your face, they can’t see your eyes, they can’t engage and they can’t get a sense of whether you’re smiling or using any mannerisms – that’s a big trip-me-up,” Mr Ajai said.

“Another problem is poor camera angles – if people are setting up their phone on their desk five inches below their face, it means the interviewer gets a view of up their nose.

“And then there’s poor framing – if your face is not squarely in the frame your head will be cut off,” he said.

How to ace an interview nailing the 10 most tricky questions

Traditional job interviews are becoming less and less common. Source:Getty Images

He said the best advice was to prepare thoroughly and be ready 10 minutes before the interview starts to troubleshoot any issues that arose.

“Make sure you’re fully charged, turn your notifications to silent and make sure you’re in a quiet room – and if you’re in a place that doesn’t lend itself well to an interview, such as in the kitchen or laundry, choose a virtual background that’s appropriate for an interview,” he advised.

“Virtual interviews require different skills than you would need in-person.”

Finally – and perhaps most critical of all – was the challenge of establishing a connection.

“Many people can’t engage and find it difficult to be open, warm and to show their softer side,” Mr Ajai said.

It’s a problem that’s especially important to rectify in virtual interviews, as jobseekers have less opportunity to strike up a rapport with their potential boss-to-be.

“With in-person interviews, we used to use the walk from reception to the interview room as a chance for a bit of an icebreaker – you’d ask, ‘How are you, how is your day?’ – but that doesn’t exist virtually, so you need to try and engage and build rapport in other ways,” he said.

Another challenge is that virtual interviews typically last half the time of an in-person one, leaving the interviewer with the challenge of “forming crisp, concise responses and delivering them in no more than a couple of minutes”.

“Body language is another hurdle – as we only get to see the person’s face, we miss the opportunity to see their overall body language,” Mr Ajai said.

“Visual cues are harder to pick up on and so concentration, an appropriate posture and a focus on not fidgeting are also things interviewees must consider.

“Lag times also pose an issue – in person you can clearly see when someone ends a question or comment and seeks a response, but in a virtual setting this is harder to pick up and so talking over people can be an issue.”

One trick to creating warmth and connection virtually with a complete stranger is to stick something personal – such as holiday or family photos or a note from your kids – on your computer out of view which will help you to “tap into your emotions” and come across better on-camera.

It’s also essential to maintain eye contact – and not to fall into the trap of looking at the interviewer’s face on the screen instead of at your laptop camera.

“Many of us do interviews while looking at our screen – but in order to engage (with the interviewer) you need to look at the camera. Your eyes are the portal to who you are, but if you’re looking away I won’t get that,” he said.

‘TRICKIEST’ INTERVIEW QUESTION

Mr Ajai also shared two notoriously difficult interview questions that most jobseekers consistently failed to nail.

The “trickiest” one asks interviewees to “Describe a significant achievement you have been responsible for?” followed closely by “Can you describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way?”

Mr Ajai said the questions regularly tripped people up as employers were looking for three separate parts to a response, which many people ignored.

“People find these tricky because they miss critical elements of the answer,” he said.

“These questions should have a Challenge, Action and Outcome as part of the answer and the response needs to be delivered crisply within just a couple of minutes.”

In other words, to ace these questions you’ll need to succinctly explain a problem you faced, your course of action and how that decision solved the issue.

Employers love using tough questions to challenge prospective hires. Have a strategy for responding to them. Start with these classic tricky questions and prepare to ace them anytime they come up.

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