Tips & Tricks for Answering Tough Interview Questions
When you're interviewing for a new job, it's a given that you'll get some tough questions. The tough questions are what the hiring company wants to identify the really great candidates. But don't be nervous. Instead, use all of the resources at your disposal to ace the tough questions and land the job.
The single most important tip for facing tough questions is to prepare ahead of time. Make a list of the nastiest questions you can imagine, and then ask friends in the same industry for their lists of the toughest questions they've ever faced. Then prepare and rehearse an answer for each of them. That way, you don't have to think on your feet at an interview -- you've already worked out what you're going to say ahead of time.
Another key piece of preparation you can do is to spend time in the days leading up to your interview recalling stories from your professional life so that you can use them as examples during the interview. Come up with as many positive scenarios as you can, and then think which questions you can use them to illustrate. For instance, if you ever had to step into a leadership role unexpectedly, you can relate this experience when you're asked how well you manage change.
Even after all of that preparation, it's possible you'll face a question you didn't think of. If this happens, you must remain calm. If you give in to panic, your mind is much more likely to go blank. You have more time than you think you do to come up with an answer. As you're formulating the best way to start, roll your shoulders back, relax your muscles and take a deep breath. Smile at the interviewer so that you retain an air of confidence, and continue to make eye contact.
Stall for Time
If nothing will come to you immediately, ask for a repeat of the question, or say it over aloud yourself. This allows you to focus on it, and to find a way into the question. You can also ask for clarification of exactly what the interviewer is looking for.
Don't Go On Forever
When answering a difficult question, don't waffle. Say what you have to say succinctly and then smile and wait for the next question. More is not necessarily better in an interview -- if you talk around a question and add unnecessary verbiage you'll just look nervous.
Steer the Discussion
If something comes up that you're genuinely stuck on, or that you don't want to discuss because it doesn't put you in the best light, try steering away from the topic. Do this sparingly and carefully -- you don't want to come across as patronizing or overbearing, but if you steer onto something about your professional life that's genuinely compelling, you'll get away with it.