How to Answer Tricky Interview Questions

While in an interview, you are bound to come across questions, which are very tricky and can leave you speechless. The questions can be related to anything, it may be something personal about you, it may be something about the organization; it may be a situation in which your reaction will be judged or could be something simple but practical. You have to be very quick-witted in these situations and with a calm sense analyze the question from all angles. If they find any kind of weakness, there is a high risk that the rest of the interview can fall into the pit.

There are a few guidelines for every question, which provides a base for every question. Using these guidelines, one can easily create a possibly strong answer. Guidelines for most asked interview questions are given below.

Tell me Something About Yourself

Most of the interviews begin with this question. Obviously, every candidate is prepared for this question and answers this question in the most confident manner. However, it is necessary to keep in mind here that the HR manager only wants to know the relevant details that are actually necessary, if you go on about telling your life story from the time you grew up, there is no doubt that you will soon be hunting for another job opening in some other firm.

There are many different cases observed, where the candidate talks about his or her complex past situations and how there is no peace and harmony at his or her home. There should be nothing negative in your answer as these things are not meant to be brought up in an interview voluntarily. It creates a bad image; moreover, you should only be talking about your education, qualifications, and career. There is no point in speaking more than needed. Restrict your answer to only details that are relevant. Ideally one should restrict the answer to this question in five sentences.

  • My name is [First Name] [Last Name]
  • I stay in [area name]
  • I have completed [highest qualification… instead of M. Com. Say Masters in Commerce] in [Year] from [Institute Name].
  • Overall I have [x] years of experience and am currently working as [current designation] with [company name] since [start of the current job e.g. March 2016]
  • My manager and colleagues have always appreciated my [top two qualities that you have and are relevant to the job you are applying for – e.g. Communication Skills, Quick Learner, Positive Approach, Attention to Detail, Teamwork, Leadership, Focus on Numbers, Accuracy, Quick Turnaround Time, Multi-task, Creativity, Dedication, Research oriented, etc]

The interviewer will then have an opportunity to ask questions based on these points and decide the course of the interview. If there is anything else that the interviewer wishes to know about you, then he or she will ask you about it. I have provided an answer to this question below, which I explained to one of my students during the “Interview Success Workshop” that I conducted in Mumbai at one of our training centers.

What was the reason for leaving your last job?

This is one of the trickiest questions asked in an interview. Remember; do not bad mouth your previous employer in any scenario. You have to present yourself in an utmost positive manner and there should not be any negative signs from your side. Talking bad about your old boss, company or peers is considered as extremely unprofessional and can decrease your chances of getting the job by a large margin. The best way to answer this question is to talk about career advancement and the new company which you are applying for is the right choice for you. Answering this question can be a bit different for the ones who were fired from their previous job. If you were fired, please do not try to cover it up or lie about it in the interview. There are great chances that the company will check your background anyway, so it is better to come clean from the start.

The best way to answer this question if you were fired is to keep it brief and simple. Turn your negative points into positive points by talking about how it was a learning experience for you and what did you do to make up for the mistakes then. Talking about moving on with good confidence can give you extra points. For example,

My skills were not too useful in my previous post. Also, my boss and I had a very different way of thinking and we decided that I should move on to a job where my skills were better used.”

Which other companies have you applied for?

I suggest that you be relaxed when this question is asked. The main motive behind asking this question is to ensure that you are quite serious about finding a new job. If you have applied for a job in many different companies, remember not to give out the entire details, you don’t want to sound too desperate and give them the idea that you will take any job available.

You need to sound professional and confident, mention one or two good companies, offering a decent salary to give them an idea that you have capabilities and you aim high. More importantly, convince them that you actually are very serious in getting a new job.

What are your strengths?

If you think of it, this question is one of the easiest questions that you might have come across. The mistake that most people make while answering this question is that many people give very common answers. Now, what does a very common answer mean? It means an answer that many or everyone usually gives- for example, “I’m pretty hard working” or “I am very loyal to the company I work for” and so on. Your answer depends on the kind of job you’re applying for. Like, if you are applying for an accountancy position, you cannot say that you are good at clerical work.

The answer that you give should ring a bell in the interviewer’s mind and make him or her think that you have something that the other applicants might not have. Use words that show that you have skills which are useful for the job that you are applying for. Avoid words and behavior that may look or feel very generic. Let us take an example of a graphic designer answering this question:

As a graphic designer, my greatest strength is that I understand the need of various people and turn it into the final design work. My passion for creativity and mastery over most features of Photoshop add glitter to gold. Moreover, I can blend in with people easily and so I have great compatibility of working in a team.”

What are your weaknesses?

Where strengths may feel like the easiest questions to answer, undoubtedly one would say that answering questions related to weaknesses is also pretty easy. No. The questions related to weaknesses are the hardest to answer. At the same time, if you think that saying you have little to none weaknesses might give you a stand in the interview, you are extremely wrong. If you say that you have nothing that you must work on, you will come out as being very much arrogant. Speak of a weakness that will not ruin your chances of getting selected, and that can also maintain a very good impression in front of the interviewer. When they are asking your weaknesses, it is one hundred percent work-related, so do not talk of domestic weaknesses, such as helping in chores around the house and baking cakes.

These answers will sound extremely absurd and the interviewer will think that you cannot comprehend the questions and tasks given to you. The best advice would be to tell a work-related weakness and then follow it up by giving examples that you can work on it. If you admit your real weakness and convince the person in front of you that you can work on it, the interviewer can trust you more.

Again, the job that you are applying for will determine the answer you give. I would like to provide an answer that I gave to one of my students Sheetal Sharma during the “Interview Success Workshop” conducted in Hyderabad a few months ago.

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