Inside the Interview: How to Handle Tough Questions

Updating your resume and writing effective cover letters is only half of the battle. Once you land an interview, you need to be preparedfor the next hurdle: selling yourself in person. Despite the importance of the interview, many job applicants fail to plan for success in this crucial step. Don’t make the same mistake. You can be prepared – no matter what questions they may ask – by following these simple steps.

Review your resume.

If it’s been a while since you revisited your career history, take a few moments to look over your resume. Refresh yourself on the dates of your education, any additional training you may have participated in, or the timing of any unexplained career gaps. Keeping this information at the forefront of your memory helps keep the interview flowing smoothly, and prevents any awkward pauses while you try to remember what happened ten years ago.

Prepare for tricky questions.

Interviewers love to put applicants on the spot. It helps them see how well you respond under pressure, and gives them a glimpse into your thought process. Prepare for virtually any question they may ask you by writing down potential interview hazards. Review lists of common interview questions. Ask friends or business associates about hard questions they may have faced in their last interview. Make a list of questions that have stumped you in the past, and write out answers to them. Practice giving answers so that you can handle these questions with ease.

Be honest about annoyances.

A favorite question of interviewers is a variation of ‘How do you work with people who annoy you?’ Be ready with an honest answer. You will encounter people that drive you crazy. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there isn’t anything wrong with admitting it. Trying to pretend otherwise may be a red flag to a potential employer. Use an actual example of something that has annoyed you in the past. “I become irritated when a member of a team misses a deadline that affects the entire project. It can cause delays, and isn’t fair to the others who have completed their work on time.” Don’t focus on trivial grievances (now is not the time to elaborate on the correct way to schedule lunch breaks). Instead, use examples that show your commitment to performing your job, and how you prioritize being part of the company. Offer examples of how you’ve dealt with these annoyances.

Offer solutions that work.

Instead of avoiding tricky questions, reframe the question in a way that showcases your strengths. If you had conflict with your last supervisor, for example, explain how you managed to maintain a working relationship in spite of your differences. “While my supervisor and I did not agree on how to complete a project, I appreciated how she sought input from our entire team on the best way to move forward. I learned from that experience how to manage a team effectively.” This approach can demonstrate your ability to work with others and how you will fit within a new company. It also shows how you can learn from experiences and use them in the future.

A few moments of preparation can give you an edge, no matter what questions are thrown at you during an interview. Collect examples from your employment history of the best and worst moments you’ve experienced, and present them in a way that demonstrates your growth as a person and as an employee. Turn your next interview into the final stepping stone on the way to your next job with a little preparation.

Ready to move forward in your job search? Let Trident Embedded Solutions connect you to opportunities in your field. Contact us today to find out how!

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