They say success is where opportunity and preparation meet.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve secured an awesome opportunity that you’re excited about. If you can just ace this interview, you could turn this opportunity into a successful move in your career.
We’re here to help you with the preparation part!
Generally speaking, if you’re stumped in an interview because you either don’t really understand the question or its relevance to the job, take a few seconds to regroup.
Try Laura Rose’s method of handling tough interview questions.
I bring much to the table, both as an individual and team contributor. Which are you most interested in hearing about?
Here’s where you can focus on highlighting accomplishments from both camps without rambling on all over the place. Try to be succinct and answer questions in about 2 minutes. Any longer, and you might be orchestrating a snooze fest. Practice is key here!
Here are five tough questions you can start practicing right now:
Scott Vedder, author of Signs of a Great Resume, and former Fortune 100 recruiter who has conducted over 5,000 interviews, finds that this question is the toughest for most people.
Some rookie mistakes:
“When you open with a statement about why you want to join the company and you state that you possess valuable skills and experiences listed in the job posting, you’re already starting the interview on the right foot. The interviewer is then likely to ask follow-up questions relating to your best skills and you’re a lot more likely to get the job,” Vedder says.
This can be really intimidating. Why should they choose you out of hundreds of applicants?
Here’s what they’re looking for, according to Tim Toterhi, an HR professional with over 15 years of experience, and founder of Plotline Leadership.
“Here, it’s important to provide a logical career story line that provides a logical rationale for your decision making,” Toterhi says.
For instance, if you’ve had quite a few jobs in the past few years, you might discuss changes in personal goals, your desire to nail down your passion or something as simple as frequent location moves. Whatever your story may be, be sure to highlight how you're excited to see through a permanent position and help the company do XYZ. Drive this point home!
Likewise, if there seems to be a few holes in your experience, explain why you were out of work for a period of time. Shift the light back onto the skills you gained during your unemployment time. E.g.: “Even though I may have resume gaps due to layoffs, I still wrote daily, took classes or worked on side projects to keep my skills sharp.”
At the very least, talk about how you spent that time really digging into your industry and researched companies at which you’d truly perform and help succeed long-term.
E.g.: “In the past, I used to be way too stressed out when I had really tight deadlines. But a couple years ago, I came up with a way to manage tough deadlines by dividing up the task in chunks and writing down goals for each half of the day. Now, this system has helped me never miss a deadline!”
“Strategic honesty is always the best policy,” says Clayburn Griffin, who has worked at some top NYC media agencies for five years on both sides of the interview.
Remember, with most technical tests like this, “Every programmer makes mistakes,” says Julie Desmond at George Konik Associates. “The interviewer doesn’t care that it happens; he or she wants to know if you can review your own code, find the error and explain it.”