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Interviews are the screening process that companies use to determine whom to hire. Are there other considerations other than the job interview? Yes. However, effective interviewing is vitally important to success in your job search.

Since the interview is pivotal to a company’s decision, someone seeking a new position would be wise to think about, rehearse, and perhaps even role play answers to interview questions.

Other than rehearsing typical job interview questions, those related directly to the position for which one is being interviewed, job search candidates should prepare themselves to answer some of the toughest interview questions ever developed.

Below are some of the most critically tough interview questions that I have encountered. If you are in the process of conducting a job search, you may wish to develop some intelligent answers to the following questions. By thinking through answers to these questions, one would be better prepared to handle a huge variety of questions that clever interviewers pitch to interviewees.

“Values” Questions:

• How do you perceive your early background and experience to have affected your career?

• How has your personal background, upbringing, schooling, influenced what you are today, your career progression, your management and people style?

• What are the values you were taught in your family?

“Professional Relationship” Questions:

• Where do you relate the best? Up one level, down one level, or with peers?

• What is the best way to manage you?

• How do you build a team under you?

• What qualities have you liked and disliked in your bosses? Why?

• How do you evaluate the performance of people that report to you?

• How do you show anger and frustration? (How a candidate answers is equally important as to what he or she says.)

“Priorities” Questions:

• Discuss the importance of your job as it relates to your family.

• How do you reward yourself for working hard, and how would you spend more free time if you had it?

“Career Success” Questions:

• What are your career prospects with your current company (assuming one is still working)?

• Tell me about your most recent interview.

• According to your definition of success, how successful have you been?

“Negative” Questions:

• When and why have you fired people?

• Have you made any mistakes during your career? If so, what are they? How did you fix them?

• Tell me about your setbacks. How have they affected you?

• What critical feedback do you tend to receive from others?

• What is the most adverse situation with which you have had to deal in your personal or professional life? How did you deal with it? What was the outcome?

“Probing” Questions:

• If you were speaking tonight before the leading association in your industry, what subject would you select that would enable the audience to see what is special about you as a business person?

• What is the most difficult ethical decision you have had to make, and what was the outcome?

• What is the difference between a good position and an excellent one?

• Where do you see yourself on a continuum between growing people vs. getting the job done?

• If we hired you next week, what unfinished business would you leave in your current work?

• It makes sense to think in terms of the questions you will be asked so that you can organize your thoughts, and how you might formulate your answers. When developing your answers, keep them positive and upbeat. Avoid negatives whenever possible.

It is also important to look at answers from the standpoint of what the interviewer is seeking. One question can have more than one answer depending on one’s point of view. For example, if the interviewer asks you the above question, “What qualities have you liked or disliked in your bosses?” choose some positive leadership qualities rather than negative personality dislikes. If you are probed to answer what you disliked in a former boss, you may wish to verbalize unreasonable requests, such as: “When my boss set an unrealistic deadline that he / she admitted was unrealistic when it was set.”

Keep in mind that you are in a “selling” situation. You are selling your attributes to a potential employer. Rather than blurt out an answer, take a moment to develop an answer that enhances your desirability as a potential employee.

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