The Toughest Interview Question…

Today\’s guest post comes from Benjamin McCall. He runs (subscribe to the RSS) and specializes in OD, T&D and business strategy. You can follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenjaminMcCall. He’s a fantastic guy with a lot of great ideas. He also contributed a piece to the HR Ninja series a while back, and I’m glad he decided to let me share this post!

‘The’ toughest interview question… Is the one you have not prepared for or have never answered!

I could also say that the toughest interview question would be all of them.

Toughest Interview QuestionYou could argue that there is one or two that could specifically be mentioned a article such as this. If you want to break my arm I would say

  • Salary? Any salary question is difficult. Whether you are asked in the beginning of your interview process or at the end. Unless you are seasoned and comfortable, this question can be very hard to gauge. Past salary studies are not especially accurate in this market.
  • Tell me about yourself? Not one that I personally feel is difficult but from talking to many job seekers, like myself, if you do not know how to frame it, talking about “you” professionally can be a disaster. But when you have practiced, you can define to the employer your essential strengths as well as allow them to learn about who you are and what makes you the best candidate for the job. The biggest difficulty is framing it around the role you are interviewing for while adding a little of your own personality and style. There are many that need a lot of practice.
  • Do you have any questions for me? This all comes down to research. Everyone says this but I would like to drive the point on a few items.
    • Make sure you research the company as a whole.
    • Understand its activity within the region you will be working.
    • Find out about the essential products and services that you will be working with. Even if you are not directly working with the products you are still supporting the activity of those services and products within the company. If you are lucky enough to have know of the people that will be interviewing you.
    • Look the person who is interviewing you up and see the roles they have had within the company and what they do. This may give you some insight into the culture of the organization and how flexible the company if to employee growth, advancement, etc.
  • What would be your perfect job? We all know that this is a tough question, namely because of the fact that many individuals have not decided what type of job they want much less the perfect role or job for them. No job is perfect! There are times you will hate it and other times you will love it. For the 1% of people that can attest to having the perfect job, bravo. I applaud you. For those that have a hard time defining it… Good luck!

I still believe that every question can make or break whether you are selected or denied. Whether justified or not, mind your P’s and Q’s and always prepare. The 5 P’s are important. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!

Tell me, what do you feel are the toughest interview questions? Are there any that you never want to answer? Comment below.

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7 thoughts on “The Toughest Interview Question…

  1. Tom Franke

    One of the toughest and most insightful interview questions I ask candidates is, “Have your ethics ever been challenged at work?” I usually get a long pause after I ask the question and the responses have varied greatly! This question is a great tool to learn about a candidate’s loyalty to a company, initiative, ability to understand how their daily actions impact the overall organization, and the judgment of how to communicate a sensitive subject in a professional manner.

    1. Ben Post author

      @Tom I love that question! It covers so many potential topics with a relatively simple sounding request. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Randi Sandlin

    Hi Ben – nice post!
    When interviewing internal candidates at my last company I liked to ask “if you were the CEO, what would you change about our company”. Always gave me insight into their big picture thinking.
    Have a great weekend.

  3. Kerry Dexter

    one of the questions I often asked was ‘how do you handle criticism of your work?’ and following up with ‘what if the criticism is unjustified?’ it was relevant to situations in the work I was hiring for, and it gave me insight into a candidate’s maturity and creativity — and ability to think on his/her feet.
    .-= Kerry Dexter´s last blog ..national drum month- bodhran =-.

  4. Pingback: Land a New Position: Best Practices for Jobseekers « I-CareerSearch

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