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Say What? Answering Tough Interview Questions like a Pro

Updated on August 23, 2018
S E Hurst PhD profile image

S E Hurst graduated from the University of Tennessee with a PhD in Comparative and Experimental Medicine in 2012.

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You’ve spent countless of hours searching through websites, newspapers, bulletin boards, etc. and you’ve finally landed a job interview. You show up the day of the interview with your suit fresh from the dry cleaners, your shoes sparkling, and your resume printed and ready to go. As you wait for the interviewer, you begin to feel a sense of doom and dread as you begin to anticipate the questions you may be asked that will result in the dreaded awkward silence. Want to avoid such as disaster? Read below and get typical interview questions and suggestions for good responses.

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What are your weaknesses?

Don’t start listing a multitude of all your sins and shortfalls. None of us are perfect. Take a potential weakness and put positive spin on it. For example, “I am very detail oriented and in some situations that may not be a good fit. However, for this position, I think this trait truly will help me excel." See make a negative into a positive!

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Why did you leave your last job?

A positive spin is key here too. You don’t want to burn bridges while trying to cross the river. If you dish the dirt about your previous employer, the interviewer will think you will dish dirt about that company as well. Answer something like this. "The company just wasn't a good fit for me, but I think the people and the dynamics of this company will fit my personality and skill set well.” I think this is the best course of action especially if you left your previous position under bad circumstances. Trust me—been there, done that.

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Why do you want to work here?

Think like a student and do your homework before the interview. Knowing more about them than they know about you is a plus in your favor. Say, “I want to be a part of a company that last year alone gave $1.4 million to various charities in the area”, or “I am very passionate about the cancer research your company is performing and have read many of your publications on the subject.”

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Tell me something interesting about yourself.

Shine like the star your momma thinks you are! This isn’t the place for a biography, but a place to highlight traits and accomplishments you feel are relevant for the position. Don't delve into personal information unless it relates to the position for which you are interviewing. For example, "I am very creative and resourceful. In my previous position, I used my creativity to begin new programs for the company, and inspire my peers. Through my work, I received numerous company awards and promotions."

Last, but certainty not least....

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What are your goals?

Essentially restate why you want to work at the company and brainstorm about what you would like to accomplish while you are there. Don’t mention company take-overs and making millions of dollars here, no matter how much you want those things. Say something like, “I want to work in this position with a growing firm/company that concentrates on XYZ. Ideally, I would like to grow with the company taking advantage of all the opportunities this company has to offer."

This is just a taste, but I hope it helps calm your nerves and land the job of your dreams. Good luck and happy job hunting!

© 2018 Sarah Hurst

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