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Difficult Interview Questions & How to Answer Them

By Morgan Miller, AgCareers.com Intern

 

                   As a job candidate, an interview is your opportunity to share your personality, skills, and experiences in hopes of proving to be a good fit for aposition. It is important to prepare and practice for an interview even if you are well-acquainted with the process. Each interviewer is different, so it is important to be ready to answer a variety of difficult questions.

                   Lexie Lee, lead counselor at Texas Tech University Career Center (UCC), has worked with numerous students prior to important interviews. One of the questions she sees students struggle with often is “tell me about yourself.” Even though this seems like a no-brainer, many interviewees struggle with these three thought processes –

 

  • How in depth do I go?
  • Do I include personal information?
  • What do I reiterate from my resume?

 

                  There is a big difference between knowing who you are and being able to effectively convey that to potential employers. Counselors at the Texas Tech UCC advise students to answer this question in 60 seconds or less and use it to guide the interview. They encourage students to select information the interviewer would be interested in knowing such as –

 

  • A brief personal background; avoid illegal interview topics
  • Educational experience
  • Related experience
  • Top relevant skills and qualities
  • Your interest in the position

 

Do not repeat your entire resume or produce your whole life story. It takes practice to figure out the right “formula” and what feels most natural to you.

Now let’s talk about weaknesses. Everyone loves to openly discuss what they aren’t as good at, right? Doubtful. Many interviewees struggle to answer the oh-so-common “what are your weaknesses?” question because it feels a little like a trap. At Texas Tech UCC, students are told to view a weakness as a strength taken a little too far. When answering this question, be honest but don’t overshare and paint yourself in a negative way.To frame yourself positively -

 

  • Always answer this question even if you are uncomfortable
  • Explain how you are working to overcome your weakness (don’t offer more than one unless they ask)
  • Mention how you’ve seen your life or productivity change for the bettersince addressing the problem

 

                  If you’ve ever practiced for an interview, you may be familiar with the STAR method for answering behavioral questions. Interviewers like to ask questions about past situations and your reaction at that time. They generally want to hear specific stories in response, and this can be difficult. To help answer this question, include the following –

 

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

 

                  According to Lexie Lee,lead counselor,unexpected questions are always difficult to answer. These questions may be something you’ve never had to think about or put into words.

                  “I inform my students that you will never know exactly what the interviewer will ask,” Lee said.“If you are thrown off - ask the interviewer for a second to think, gather your thoughts, drink some water, take a moment and then answer the question to your best ability.”

                  Interviews are not supposed to be a walk in the park. They are intended to test you and your compatibility with a position or company. You will never be able to practice every possible interview question but knowing how to stay calm under pressure, break down and effectively process questions, and prepare despite a certain level of uncertainty will set you up for success.