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Many companies are notorious for asking job interview questions like, “Estimate the total number of cars in the UK.” (Barclays) or “How many calories are in a grocery store?” (Google). When applying for internships or jobs, you are not necessarily going to be asked these questions, but some of what you’re asked may seem tough to answer. We’ve compiled a list of the seven toughest interview questions — and how to answer them — to help you prepare.
1. What do people most often criticize about you?
Though this seems to trap you into sharing something negative about yourself, there are great ways to answer this. There are many character traits which can be seen as bad in some contexts, but good in others. Before the interview, think of any traditionally negative traits you have that you could word as positive.
A possible answer: “People say I’m impatient. I get frustrated when projects are moving slowly, and I double my efforts to speed up progress so that it meets the deadline.”
2. What is your biggest weakness?
Interviewers don’t ask this to make you look bad, they genuinely want to know so they can manage you well (and maybe give you training to improve). Answer honestly, phrasing it so you still look good.
For example, saying you’re shy and have trouble speaking in meetings puts you in a bad light. Instead, say that you “get nervous when speaking to large groups of people,” and then go on to say how you are currently working on this so you are more confident. This shows that you can admit a shortcoming and are addressing it, which shows that you put effort into learning and growing.
3. What salary do you think you deserve?
Research this before the interview. You want to go in with a realistic expectation of what people in this role, at this level, in this size organization are typically paid. You need to be clear about what you’re worth, how much value you will be adding to the organization, how much your work will add to their bottom line, and therefore, how much you deserve to earn.
Many struggle to negotiate their salaries, accepting what their employer first offers. But you’re not going to lose the job by asking for slightly higher pay — if they’re not willing to pay you more they will say so, and then it’s your choice to accept the job or not.
4. Why should I hire you?
Rehearse your answer before the interview. Look over your CV, think back to past work you’ve done, and list the qualities and skills you can add to an organization. The general rule is that past performance is always the best indicator of future performance, so think of specific examples you can talk about that showcase your skills.
5. How would you handle it if your boss was wrong?
The best way to answer this is to say that it depends on the situation and the personality of your boss. Give an example of what the context might be and how you would then handle that situation. Be confident while answering, showing respect for your boss, as well as the ability to stand up and communicate what is necessary.
6. Describe the color yellow to a blind person.
This question is designed for the interviewer to test your communication skills. Communication is all about understanding the other person’s perspective and communicating in a way that makes sense to them. A blind person can’t compare yellow to any color, except maybe black. So talking about the opposite of black, white, and saying yellow is closer to white than black is a start.
Blind people live in a world of sounds and textures, so relating yellow to sounds and textures and describing how the color makes you feel all show the interviewer that you know that communicating is about talking in a way that makes sense to how someone else sees the world.
7. What is it about this job you would least look forward to?
Like with every answer, be honest, and find a way to frame it in a positive light. It’s OK to not look forward to a specific, small aspect of the role. Considering you’re applying for the position, the majority of the role must excite you, so be honest about a small aspect you may be not as keen about. Or, if you take a moment in the interview to think of something and can’t, say so. This shows the interviewer that you really have thought about it and are genuinely looking forward to it all.
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