How to Handle Difficult Job Interview Questions You Are Not Prepared For
If job interviews had one standard script, it would be easy to succeed. Simply write out good answers to each interview question and voila, you are ready to wow the interviewer with your amazing preparedness and confidence. Game over. Job is yours.
Unfortunately, job interviews are not designed to be so easy. Employers want to hire the best of the best, and if job interviews were entirely scripted, the only people that get hired would be good writers. So what happens when you face a difficult interview questions that you are not prepared to answer? Here are some tips for answering the question well.
Difficult Interview Questions Tips
- Use Examples
One of the most important tips for successfully answering difficult interview questions is to use examples to substantiate your claims. For example, let’s say you are asked how well you know a program that you do not know. The first response is to lie, but for obvious reasons that does not work. The next most common response is to say “I am not familiar with that program, but I am a fast learner.” This response is not bad given the circumstances, but it can be better.
Look how much better this answer is: “I am not familiar with the program, but I am a fast learner. At my previous place of employment, I was asked to work daily with a development program that I had never used before. But within a week with minimal training I was able to successfully navigate the program, and within a month I was training seasoned workers on ways to utilize it more efficiently.”
Clearly this is going to earn you more points with the interviewer, and easily illustrates how elaborating with specific examples is one of the best ways to prove that you are capable of handling the position.
- Don’t Answer Questions with Questions
Unless the question was poorly worded and you legitimately have no idea what they are asking, don’t try to buy yourself time by responding to difficult questions with questions, such as “could you explain what you mean when you say ‘familiar?’ How familiar?” These will only serve to make you look un-prepared.
- Be Confident and Show Commitment
Many difficult interview questions are challenge questions to judge how much confidence you have in your own ability to do the job, and whether or not you will stay. Questions like “why should we hire you?” are specifically designed to see if you have any doubts or if you are unable to put your strengths into words. As far as the interviewer is concerned, you should always be the best person for the job, and you always plan on staying with the company and growing within it.
- No Question is Too Stupid
Some difficult interview questions are designed to gauge a response. Treat every question like it is important, and don’t laugh or question the motivations behind anything the interviewer asks you.
- Plan Canned Responses
Finally, it is always a good idea to write down your strong points in answer format before your interview, and use those answers as your examples when faced with a question that you find difficult. One difficult question is “Tell us about a time you disagreed with a supervisor.” Unprepared, you may struggle to come up with an answer, but if you have already written a generic answer that makes you look like a great employee, you can pick some small disagreement that occurred and incorporate your amazing work into the answer with ease.
Prepare and Practice
The best way to handle difficult interview questions is to simply practice answering difficult interview questions. The more answers you prepare, the more you can use those answers to confidently respond to any difficult question you are asked, even if the questions are not identical. Still, if you come across a question that you have no idea how to answer, the above tips should help you pass the question adequately.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Use examples to substantiate claims.
- Prepare a number of examples to incorporate into difficult answers.
- Always treat every question as important and answer it thoughtfully and with confidence.