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Tough Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

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Think of words and responses that reflect the positive qualities you hope to bring to the position.   Words that work well here include honest, dependable, hardworking, dedicated and outgoing.  Prepare specific examples that show how you reflect these traits.

Conflict Questions

Most employers will want to know how you deal with conflict, so you can usually expect at least one question that asks you to elaborate on an interpersonal issue and how it was resolved.  Examples include:

  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult customer.
  • Have you ever had a conflict with a manager or supervisor? How did you resolve it?
  • What types of people do you find difficult to work with? Why?
  • Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with a co-worker. How did you resolve it?

These questions are aimed at determining how well you get along with others, and whether you can manage conflict in a mature way.  Give examples of how you have behaved professionally and diffused conflict.  Keep the details to a minimum and try to move away from these questions quickly.

Experience Questions

Interviewers often want to see examples of how you have done the exact same work that this position requires in your previous positions.  If you are coming from a different role, you'll want to spend some time coming up with good examples of how the work you did elsewhere is just like what you will be expected to do here. This is where your pre-interview research can really pay off. Examples of this type of question include:

  • What kind of experience do you have performing this kind of task?
  • Give me an example of when you have used this technology.
  • Have you ever had this type of responsibility before?

If you have the relevant experience professionally, be prepared to elaborate. If you haven't had that exact experience professionally, try to prepare examples of similar experience you have through a different job role, your volunteer work, in an academic environment, or on your own.

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