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Navigating Trick Questions in Your Next Interview

Unpredictability is a constant of the interview process. Some HR managers rely on questions specifically designed to trip you up. Others may simply have interview habits they fall back on. The reality is the intention behind a question isn’t as important as the content of your response. Here are a few classic questions and suggestions of how best to formulate your response with poise and set yourself apart:

  1. What is your greatest weakness? Individuals often answer this classic interview question with a non-answer, such as “I care too much.” Interviewers see straight through a dodge. They asked you a genuine question: respond with a genuine answer. Answer in a way that shows your integrity and growth through a particular situation. “At my last position I initially struggled with the lack of structure. That experience allowed me to grow in developing my own structures that function best with my working style and that of my team.”

  2. How does this position compare with others you are applying for? This question invites you to tip your hand about your job search. Having no other prospects can make you appear desperate. Having too many diverse options can imply that your search is unfocused and haphazard. Your answer should redirect to the present interview and show your engagement with the process. “I’m exploring a number of options right now. I’m glad for this opportunity to learn more about your position and company.”

  3. Why are you looking for another position? The reality is that many job searches are prompted by negative circumstances ranging from being laid off to an insufferable boss. Focusing on the negative will not reflect well on you. Your response should demonstrate forward momentum and a career trajectory. “I am grateful for the ways I’ve developed in my current position and am looking for a new challenge in line with my career goals.”