How to Answer These Hard-Hitting Interview Questions

When interviewing for a new job, you’ll likely run into an interviewer or two who will ask you some hard-hitting questions. The best way you can answer these is calmly and with a little preparation. This guide will help you know which questions might come up during an interview and how to answer them gracefully.

1 What are your strengths?

This question is designed to asses your character and how well you align with company values. It’s important that you take time before the interview to really think about which of your skills you consider your strongest.

Answer this question with two or three skills that describe you specifically. Avoid broad terms that nearly every candidate uses in their cover letter such as having “problem solving skills” or being “creative”. 

Know that, according to TransUnion ShareAble for Hires, 73% of hiring managers look for a candidate with a strong work ethic and 72% of hiring manager look for a candidate with a positive attitude. Therefore, if a large majority of hiring managers look for these specific qualities, it could be good to mention how you have a proven track record of these important attributes. Additionally, it’s important to answer with analytical strengths as well as a behavioral strength. Be sure to elaborate and explain your answer.

Sample answer: I believe I am incredibly detail oriented. I make sure to keep a running log of all the tasks I must do in a day to better delegate my time and to ensure I don’t miss anything. I meticulously read over each document 3 times before I send it out to a client to make sure quality is up to par. Also, I am really resourceful. If I am given little direction on a project due to time constraints or something else that might have arisen, I use all of my devices to find the information needed to complete the task. I keep a bookmark on my browser with helpful Google search queries in order to better scrape the web for information I need. I always explore all options on how to do something before asking for help.

Recruiters and hiring managers find the above characteristics important.

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2 What are your biggest weaknesses?

The key to answering this question in a way that it is well-received by interviewers is to be sincere. A big red flag for interviewers is if you can’t come up with anything negative to say about yourself. Everyone has weaknesses. If you think you don’t, this could mean you have trouble receiving negative feedback and are unable to learn from others.

Instead, answer the question with sincere weaknesses you face along with how you plan to combat them or improve them. Also, remember that interviewers are interested in your business weaknesses as a professional, so they don’t really care if you are messy at home.

Sample answer: My biggest weaknesses are Excel and being very forgetful. I wasn’t formally trained in school or in my previous positions on Excel and it intimidates me. However, I recently signed up for a free online Excel basics course that I believe will help me to feel more confident making pivot tables and analyzing data. I also am a very forgetful person, but like I said in my previous answer I write absolutely everything down to ensure I don’t let a task slip through the cracks. I make sure I am on top of my forgetfulness by documenting everything, setting alarms, and starting and ending everyday going over my to-do list.

3 Can you explain the gaps in your employment?

If you’ve been out of work for a while, it’s likely you’ll be asked this question. The reason interviewers will ask this is to inquire if you had been fired from your previous position and this is the reason for the gap in employment.

Here, honesty is the best way to answer this question. It’s normal for people to take time off work for whatever reason. You don’t have to apologize about it or be overly personal with your answer but do give a brief reason for your absence.

Sample answer: I left my previous employer because I needed to move home to take care of a sick family member. It was an unfortunate situation but taking care of my father took precedence at that time. I was sad to leave my previous employer as I liked my job a lot, however this was just more important. That situation has been resolved and now I’m ready to jump back into my career full-time.

4 Why should we hire you?

This hard-hitting question can be really nerve-wracking for interviewees. Know why interviewers ask this question. This question gives valuable insight to hiring managers as they only have a very small window to get to know each candidate. 

Asking a direct question gives them a chance to hear why you think you’re the best fit and gives you a chance to sell yourself as the best candidate for the job in a quick elevator pitch-like answer. Really sell yourself here.

Sample answer: You should hire me because I believe I am a great fit for both the position and the company. I meet all the required qualifications for the position as well as have additional skills I believe would help me to execute the duties of the role. I also feel that I would fit in well here. On your website I read that you are a very open and collaborative team. I thrive in an environment where I can work with and learn from others. Additionally, your company works with veteran groups which I really admire. I’d love to work in a place that values veterans as I think they are so important to this country and because I have several family members who serve and have served. 

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Ace the Interview

Now that you’ve learned the reason behind why interviewers ask these hard-hitting questions, you can begin to understand how to go about answering them. Above all, remain confident in yourself, answer questions thoroughly, and remember to follow up with any end of interview questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to refer back to this list of tips before heading into your next job interview.

Author Bio

Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is a contributing editor for 365BusinessTips.com as well as a marketing expert for a fleet tracking company. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.

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