500 Questions: Tough Questions, Part Four

Have you ever been asked to leave a company? If so, please describe the situation.

If the answer is yes, be prepared to discuss the situation in detail and answer several follow-up questions. Do not say anything negative about your previous employer. If you were laid off as part of a general workforce reduction, be straightforward and move on to the next topic. If you were terminated with cause, this is a very difficult question to answer. Your aim is to clear the air, so don’t be antagonistic. Reintroduce yourself, explain that you are looking for a new job. Say that you appreciate that the manager had to do what was done, and that you learned from the experience.

Describe an opportunity in which you felt the risks far outweighed the rewards.

The interviewer wants to see that the candidate has an interest in taking reasonable risks without inclining towards foolishness. Demonstrate, with an example, your logic for deciding against some plan and how the outcome was preferable to what might have happened.

Give me proof of your persuasiveness.

This question is about leadership, but try not to use an example in which you were the designated leader. If possible, describe a time when you didn’t really have authority but instead used your powers of persuasion to get people on your side. Describe your goal and the outcome of your efforts. Why did people trust or believe you?

We live in an era of constant change. How do you view change and how do you effectively deal with it?

What a great opportunity to highlight your ability to evolve, develop, and deal with the growth and change in your profession. Elaborate on your strengths, specifically focusing on your adaptability, self-assuredness, and professionalism. Identify that in order to remain competitive in the field, we all have to adapt to changes in technology, personnel, leadership, business structure, and the types of services we provide. Choose an example of change you have faced that resulted in a positive outcome.

Describe a difficult problem you’ve had to deal with.

This is a favorite tough question. It is not so much the difficult problem that’s important. It’s the approach you take to solving problems in general. It is designed to probe your professional profile; specifically, your analytical skills. Take an opportunity in answering it to demonstrate that you have the ability to deal with such situations and the resourcefulness to turn difficult problems into successful solutions.

Why should I hire an outsider when I could fill the job with someone inside the company?

This question is a bit misleading. Obviously the interviewer has already examined its existing employees with an eye toward their promotion or reassignment. Just as obviously, the job cannot be filled from within the company or the interview wouldn’t be taking place. This kind of question is usually an invitation to tell the interviewer why they should hire you. Your answer should include a recitation of your skills and personality strengths tailored to the specific requirements of the job.