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If it hasn’t happened to you when interviewing for internships or I summer jobs, it is bound to happen soon … you’re going to get hit with tricky interview questions. We’ve all heard the horror stories : people caught off guard during a great interview with a question like, “If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? ” A very common interview fear is sitting there at a loss for words . So why do interviewers ask such tricky questions? And how can you avoid muttering “ Ummm” and “ Ahhh” when they do?
Outlined in this article are five simple steps for acing an interview and suggestions for answering those tough questions.
1. Calm down and don’t get flustered. Interviewers ask tough or silly questions to see how you’ll react. They really don’t care if you like cats or dogs or even elephants! They’re trying to see if they can catch you off guard or fluster you to see how you handle unexpected situations in the workplace.
2. Take a second to compose yourself and don’t speak too soon. For any question you are asked, you can say “I need a moment to think about it.” When you do answer, you can say something along the lines of, “I like horses. They’re sturdy and they’re quick! I feel that I would be a dependable, stable employee who can work in a fast paced environment.” That will definitely do the trick.
Never in your job will you have to “be an animal” so it’s not a relevant question — make it relevant. Relate your answer back to the job and your work ethic. Fortunately, questions like these aren’t as common as some other tricky questions.
A very common style of interviewing is through behavioral based questions. They force you to give a real life example while thinking on the spot — you really have to dig deeper to give a good answer. The interviewer will give you a situation like: “Tell me about a time, in a work setting, where you had to take a strong stand for something you believe in.” Then you will be asked what the specific situation was, why it was so important to you, how you took a stand, and what the results or consequences were.
This can be a very difficult and complex question to answer. Make sure you answer all of the parts of the question and don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer if you answered all of the points at the end of your response just to be sure.
3. Be honest and not negative. If you are asked about a difficult situation, whether you were “right” or “wrong” in the situation, you can put a positive spin on it. You can talk about issues you had with a previous job, but do not beat on it. That would send up red flags — interviewers do not want to hire someone who, down the road, might be in a similar position saying the same thing about their company.
The bottom line is, employers want to know if you:
In knowing that these are the things employers want in a candidate, you can be confident and assured before you go into your interview, which will lead to easy communication and professionalism.
4. From the earlier research you did on the company in preparaton for your interview, demonstrate how your values and what the organization stands for align. Show your intereviewers that you would be a good fit because you stand for the same things, you have interest in the company and you are eager to learn more!
5. Now for the final step: At the end of your interview, summarize what you have gone over. Show the employer why there could be a mutual benefit of you being hired for the position — you would be a great addition to their company! Tell them that you look forward to a potential job offer, and thank them for their time. And remember: follow up with a thank you note or email!
“What have you done to prepare yourself for a job of this type?”
“Tell me about a time when you succeeded in getting someone to go along with something he or she was originally opposed to doing. How did you go about influencing this person?”
“Tell me about a time that you had difficulty with a particular task or project because you lacked the necessary skills.”
“Describe yourself in one word.”
“Is work the most important thing in your life?”
So when you are interviewing for that dream job, just relax. Do some research before-hand, get a good rest the night before, put your best clothes on, and ace that interview! Remember to stay positive, be honest, and give yourself time to think before answering those tricky questions!