16 Difficult Interview Questions And Answers

Being prepared is half the battle. If you
are one of those executive types
unhappy at your present post and
embarking on a New Year's resolution
to find a new one, here's a helping
hand. The job interview is considered to be the most critical aspect of every
expedition that brings you face-to-
face with the future boss. One must
prepare for it with the same tenacity
and quickness as one does for a
fencing tournament or a chess match. This article has been excerpted from
"PARTING COMPANY: How to Survive
the Loss of a Job and Find Another
Successfully" by William J. Morin and
James C. Cabrera. Copyright by Drake
Beam Morin, inc. Published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Morin is chairman
and Cabrera is president of New York-
based Drake Beam Morin, nation's
major outplacement firm, which has
opened offices in Philadelphia.
1. Tell me about yourself. Since this is often the opening
question in an interview, be
extracareful that you don't run off at
the mouth. Keep your answer to a
minute or two at most. Cover four
topics: early years, education,work history, and recent career experience.
Emphasize this last subject. Remember
that this is likely to be a warm-up
question. Don't waste your best points
on it.
2. What do you know about our organization?
You should be able to discuss
products or services, revenues,
reputation, image, goals, problems,
management style, people, history and
philosophy. But don't act as if you know everything about the place. Let
your answer show that you have
taken the time to do some research,
but don't overwhelm the interviewer,
and make it clear that you wish to
learn more. You might start your answer in this manner: "In my job
search, I've investigated a number of
companies. Yours is one of the few
that interests me, for these
reasons..."Give your answer a positive
tone. Don't say, "Well,everyone tells me that you're in all sorts of trouble,
and that's why I'm here", even if that is
why you're there.
3. Why do you want to work for us?
The deadliest answer you can give is
"Because I like people." What else would you like-animals? Here, and
throughout the interview, a good
answer comes from having done your
homework so that you can speak in
terms of the company's needs. You
might say that your research has shown that the company is doing
things you would like to be involved
with, and that it's doing them in ways
that greatly interest you. For example,
if the organization is known for strong
management, your answer should mention that fact and show that you
would like to be a part of that team. If
the company places a great deal of
emphasis on research and
development, emphasize the fact that
you want to create new things and that you know this is a place in which
such activity is encouraged. If the
organization stresses financial
controls, your answer should mention
a reverence for numbers. If you feel
that you have to concocts an answer to this question - if, for example, the
company stresses research, and you
feel that you should mention it even
though it really doesn't interest you-
then you probably should not be
taking that interview, because you probably shouldn't be considering a
job with that organization. Your
homework should include learning
enough about the company to avoid
approaching places where you
wouldn't be able -or wouldn't want- to function. Since most of us are poor
liars, it's difficult to con anyone in an
interview. But even if you should
succeed at it, your prize is a job you
don't really want.
4. What can you do for us that someone else can't?
Here you have every right, and
perhaps an obligation, to toot your
own horn and be a bit egotistical. Talk
about your record of getting things
done, and mention specifics from your resume or list of career
accomplishments. Say that your skills
and interests, combined with this
history of getting results, make you
valuable. Mention your ability to set
priorities, identify problems, and use your experience and energy to solve
5. What do you find most attractive
about this position? What seems least
attractive about it?
List three or four attractive factors of the job, and mention a single, minor,
unattractive item.
6. Why should we hire you?
Create your answer by thinking in
terms of your ability, your experience,
and your energy. (See question 4.) 7. What do you look for in a job?
Keep your answer oriented to
opportunities at this organization. Talk
about your desire to perform and be
recognized for your contributions.
Make your answer oriented toward opportunity rather than personal
8. Please give me your defintion of [the
position for which you are being
Keep your answer brief and task oriented. Think in in terms of
responsibilities and accountability.
Make sure that you really do
understand what the position involves
before you attempt an answer. If you
are not certain. ask the interviewer; he or she may answer the question for
9. How long would it take you to make
a meaningful contribution to our firm?
Be realistic. Say that, while you would
expect to meet pressing demands and pull your own weight from the first
day, it might take six months to a year
before you could expect to know the
organization and its needs well
enough to make a major contribution.
10. How long would you stay with us? Say that you are interested in a career
with the organization, but admit that
you would have to continue to feel
challenged to remain with any
organization. Think in terms of, "As
long as we both feel achievement- oriented."
11. Your resume suggests that you
may be over-qualified or too
experienced for this position. What's
Your opinion?
Emphasize your interest in establishing a long-term association with the
organization, and say that you assume
that if you perform well in his job, new
opportunities will open up for you.
Mention that a strong company needs
a strong staff. Observe that experienced executives are always at
a premium. Suggest that since you are
so well qualified, the employer will get
a fast return on his investment. Say
that a growing, energetic company
can never have too much talent. 12. What is your management style?
You should know enough about the
company's style to know that your
management style will complement it.
Possible styles include: task oriented
(I'll enjoy problem-solving identifying what's wrong, choosing a solution
and implementing it" , results-oriented
("Every management decision I make
is determined by how it will affect the
bottom line" , or even paternalistic
("I'm committed to taking care of my subordinates and pointing them in the
right direction" . A participative style is
currently quite popular: an open-door
method of managing in which you get
things done by motivating people and
delegating responsibility. As you consider this question, think about
whether your style will let you work
happily and effectively within the
13. Are you a good manager? Can you
give me some examples? Do you feel that you have top managerial
Keep your answer achievement and
ask-oriented. Rely on examples from
your career to buttress your
argument. Stress your experience and your energy.
14. What do you look for when You
hire people?
Think in terms of skills. initiative, and
the adaptability to be able to work
comfortably and effectively with others. Mention that you like to hire
people who appear capable of moving
up in the organization.
15. Have you ever had to fire people?
What were the reasons, and how did
you handle the situation? Admit that the situation was not easy,
but say that it worked out well, both
for the company and,you think, for the
individual. Show that, like anyone else,
you don't enjoy unpleasant tasks but
that you can resolve them efficiently and -in the case of firing someone-
16. What do you think is the most
difficult thing about being a manager
or executive?
Mention planning, execution, and cost-control. The most difficult task is
to motivate and manage employees to
get something planned and completed
on time and within the budget.