Personnel Selection: Answering Difficult Interview Questions

Tell me about yourself.

This is usually one of the first questions asked in an interview. Try to focus on your knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs).
Briefly explain your educational credentials (when/where/what). Then talk about your work history. Refrain from talking
about jobs you had years ago. The employer is more interested in your skills relate to the current job opening.
You can briefly mention some things you were particularly proud of accomplishing in your most recent job.
This will get the interviewer interested in inquiring further about these accomplishments.
Allow the interviewer to gather their thoughts and prepare for the next questions.

What do you know about our company?

It is good to have some understanding about the organization you are applying to work for.
The interviewer will feel that you are interested in working for them if you at least show some prior interest in who they are and what they do.
You don't need to explain every detail about their company. Try to avoid dwelling too much on their weaknesses (if any).
You may want to end your answer to this question by mentioning how you can be an asset/benefit to them.

Why do you want to work for us?

You can discuss how you feel your knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) fill the job for which they are hiring.
Explain how you are looking forward to performing that job/role and how you are prepared for this task.
Make sure you understand what the job requires. Do you "really" want to do that job? If so, then explain it.
If you are just desperate for any job, then you may want to avoid elaborating on your answer here.

Why are you leaving your current employer?

If the circumstances for leaving your current employer are not something you feel comfortable talking about, then try to
just answer this question with the basic facts. Remember, your interviewer will probably call your current/former supervisor
for information regarding your work style, history, and abilities. If you have only been with your current employer a
short time, be sure you can explain why and re-assure the interviewer that you are seeking a more permanent role/position.

Why should we offer you the job instead of offering it to someone else?

It is important for you to promote yourself to the interview. Explain how you can benefit the company.
Avoid giving an answer that is not related to the job. Make sure your answer explains to the interviewer why you
are best able to meet the needs of the company at this time.

You seem overqualified for this position. Why do you want to work at this level?

Explain that you are seeking a long-term relationship with the company and that you feel there will be opportunities to advance in the future.
Explain also that you will be a productive employee early in your employment and will not need a lot of on-the-job training.

What is your greatest weakness?

While you can try saying something like: "I have no weaknesses.", I don't think the interviewer will believe it.
If you have to give an answer for this, try explaining that you are a workaholic (i.e., you can't get enough work).
But if you say that, make sure your work history can reflect that attitude. If you have a lot of experience, you can
say that over the years you have learned to address your weaknesses and they do not affect you as much now.
You can possibly explain that you used to have certain weaknesses in the past and explain how you have learned to deal with them.

What did you dislike about your supervisor?

Wow. This is a tricky question. You definately want to avoid being seen as disloyal. While there may be some things
that you dislike about your supervisor, you probably should avoid saying anything that may be related to your potential new supervisor.
It's OK to say that there isn't anything you disliked about your supervisor. Try instead to focus on the job such as:
You generally liked your former supervisor but need to focus on increasing your career options.

What mistakes might we make in hiring you?

This is a trap and don't fall for it. Often there may be many good candidates applying for the same job.
One way of narrowing the field is to get the candidates to eliminate themselves from consideration.
If you say that you are not qualified or cannot work at their location, then you are basically eliminating yourself from consideration.
If you want the job and you are qualified, then there should be no mistake in hiring you.

What are your pet peeves? What types of things make you angry?

Try to focus your answer on what you feel the interviewer would also find annoying. Don't say that you are annoyed by
co-workers who try to do everything right. All employers want their employees to do the right thing.

Why haven't you been hired yet? Why have you been out of work so long?

Try not to focus on any failings you may have had. For example, don't say that you are terrible at interviewing or that you
require a higher pay than other companies were willing to offer. State that you have been selective in who you are
applying to and that you are trying to seek a good match between your skills and a new job..