Interviews are tough for most people at the best of time, and even those who have no problems with them probably did at some point in their career. But a bad situation can be made worse when your interviewer throws a curveball at you in the form of a difficult question. So how do you deal with it?
As best you can, really. That’s kind of the point with most of these questions – your answers aren’t important – it’s how you answer them that will make or break your interview. This article will look at some tough questions that might come your way and discuss your approach to dealing with them.
Describe a time when a co-worker wasn’t pulling their weight in the office and how did you deal with the situation?
This isn’t opening the door for you to bitch about your colleagues! In fact, if you do, you fail. The interviewer wants to know how you deal with potentially volatile situations, so take the opportunity to sell yourself – it doesn’t really matter if what you say is a true story or not – it’s more of a theoretical exercise (I’m not saying lie outright – but your answer should be more about what you would do in an ideal situation, not necessarily what you did in the past).
Think along the lines of; “I made an effort to establish a schedule for delivery of work and politely enforced it by asking for the work as the deadline approached”.
How would you deal with someone you didn’t like?
Loaded gun alert! This is exploring your ability to draw a line between your personal life and business life – allowing emotions to control your career path can be a very risky situation, particularly when someone gets on your nerves. They don’t want to hear, “I just ignored the bitch”.
In most cases, it’s possible to be non-committal, although for certain job roles (particularly involving people management) this could be a sign of weakness.
However a somewhat vague answer may still be fine; “Well, obviously it would depend on the individual situation. I try to get on with everyone I meet, but should a situation arise, I would try to subtly establish boundaries to prevent the situation escalating out of control”.
Describe a time you found yourself outside your comfort zone and how did you deal with the situation?
I loathe this question. It was on an application form for a graduate program I applied for back in 1999. I can’t remember my exact answer, but it was in the ballpark of dealing with lazy co-workers. See above answers.
If you had an unlimited supply of broken glass, how would you make money from it?
This is basically a problem solving question aimed at finding out how you would deal with an unexpected situation under pressure. Usually thrown at you by pretentious marketing agency recruiters because they think they are being cool. Avoid the temptation to say you would auction off the chance for people to drop the aforementioned pretentious recruiter in a giant pit of broken glass.
Be creative, think of people you could sell it to (craft shops perhaps). My advice on this one would be to answer quickly and fire it back to the recruiter to see how they cope!
What bad habits have you picked up during your career?
Stealing from work isn’t the answer you want to go for here. This is trying to see if you are capable of self assessment as this is a solid skill that is very difficult for recruiters to see in candidates from a CV. This is actually a really great opportunity and one of the best ways you can make or break your interview.
Think: “Well, when I was younger, I did have pretty poor time keeping. I know this isn’t great to say at an interview, but it’s true. I was in a junior position and found it very hard to keep motivated. However, as time progressed I realised I had to make the most of the opportunities that were in front of me and over time I was able to adjust my attitude towards work and progress my career further.”
Potentially a loaded answer, but employers do like honesty and importantly this response shows that you have reflected on your own performance and made improvements as a result.
photo by: simply shutter