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Cracking the 5 Toughest Interview Questions



Image caption: People interviewing a potential candidate

Congratulations! All of your hard work has paid off! You've spent hours perfecting your resume, having friends review it, generating a strong cover letter and determining the right outfit to impress your interviewer. Now, finally, you're walking into your potential new workplace. All you have to do is knock the interview out of the park. Are you ready?


To better prepare yourself for the dream-job interview, we have put together some of the toughest interview questions and how to conquer them!


The "Warm-Up" Question: "So, tell me about yourself."


Essentially, your interviewer is looking at how well you can communicate. Are you going to talk about your hobbies and adventures or are you going to keep it professional?


How to Respond:


  • Keep your answer short, professional, AND straightforward.

  • Consider integrating your present professional experiences as a starting point. Next, reflect on your past professional experiences to provide a foundation for your skill set. Finally, talk about your professional aspirations and how you feel the company relates to your future goals. 


The "Digging Deeper" Question: "Why did you leave your last job?"


Your answer to this question will communicate multiple things to your interviewer: Are you going to talk bad about the company? Did you leave for a good reason? Are you trustworthy and dependable? Did you leave on good terms?


How to Respond:



  • You can address this question in multiple ways, but you do NOT want to speak poorly about your past company. Keep the interview in a positive direction.

  • Did you feel under-appreciated or not paid well? Leaving a position is a common reason to seek out a new job. Consider going down the "I'm seeking a greater opportunity to grow as a professional" road.

    **Anticipate a follow up regarding what opportunities you are seeking.

  • Were you fired? State that you and your employer "parted ways" and mention a skill that you learned or further developed from this experience.

  • Laid off? For this reason, it is okay to say that it was budget or economy related. It's common for companies to make cuts. It's not personal; it's just business. 


The "Confidence-is-Key" Question: "Why should I hire you?"


Expect to be asked this question in your interview. Your interviewer is testing out the waters of your confidence. Before the conversation even begins, you should have researched the company enough to know their core values and their mission statement.


How to Respond:


  • Answer the questions with your professional skills AND soft skills and how they relate to the company's core values. Remember--your interviewer is asking you to sell yourself with this question.

  • If the interviewer has disclosed information about the culture of the office and you feel you would thrive in the described workplace, be sure to mention it! 


The "Awkward Money Talk" Question: "What are your salary expectations?"


This question can cause you to lose a job even if you have nailed all of the other interview questions. Interviewers ask this question for one reason, to determine if the company can afford you. Be sure to do research on the salary of someone in the position you are applying for in your area!


How to Respond:



  • Be sure to tie in that it is negotiable.

  • Have a range of salaries from your research and mention them. Consider what you will be bringing to the company and the position itself. Higher management positions are going to pay more than a lower end position. Also be sure to consider if you have the experience necessary to justify requesting a salary on the higher end of the range you outline. 


The "Core Interview" Question: "Why do you want to work for our company?"


Essentially, your interviewer wants to know what your career goals are, how the company (and position) fit into your plan, and if you would thrive in the company culture. Be sure to research the company, press involving the company, and philanthropic efforts.


How to Respond:



  • When addressing this question, consider: Why are you interested in the company? Why are you interested in the job?

  • Be sure to integrate what you like about the company with your values and or skillset.

  • It's okay to dive in deeper into this question as it is multi-layered. 


Wish you would have learned interview skills earlier in life? JA is helping today's students get prepared for their futures through JA Career Success! This program equips students with the tools and skills necessary to earn and keep a job in high-growth career industries!

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