Don't Get Thrown for a Loop

How to Answer Five Difficult Interview Questions

Don't Get Thrown for a Loop

While some interview questions are easy to answer, others can make or break you. Here are some tips for getting through the more difficult (and sometimes bizarre) ones.

Tell Me a Story.

Huh? Before you launch into Alice in Wonderland, find out what kind of story the interviewer wants to hear. Asking for clarification shows you are thoughtful and won't go on wild goose chases in the office if difficult projects aren't spelled out for you in advance.

Once you learn the type of story requested, create your very short tale around a time that you accomplished something great. Keep it short and sweet, and remember: Always make yourself look good. Think of this as the interviewer, "What don't I know about you that I should?" or "What skills do you have that could make you do this job well?"

What Do You Think of Your Last Boss?

Be careful. Respond concisely in a way that indicates your respect for authority and your ability to get along with superiors.

How Would You Deal with a High-Strung Personality?

If asked a question that relates to how you'd deal with a difficult personality, answer and then ask why the interviewer is asking. It's best to find out early if you're interviewing for a job with a lunatic so you can quit pursuing it.

Tell Me a Little About Yourself.

Always be prepared for this question, or you'll end up droning on and on. Make your answer short and sweet. Also, feel free to get clarification from the interviewer: Any area you'd prefer to hear about? My education? Experience?

Generally, you want to tie your answer into a professional attribute or two. For example: "I work well with others," "My strong organizational skills end up making me the leader in most projects I'm on," or "I approach anything I do with gusto and put in 150 percent." Or if you're a great communicator, say so and state how that attribute has helped you in your career. It doesn't have to be a difficult question if you think of it as, "Tell me something great about yourself." But you should be prepared.

How Do I Rate as an Interviewer?

Even if you think the interviewer belongs in the Clown Hall of Fame, don't voice an ounce of criticism. You could say it's been a tough interview (if it has), and that you hope you are providing enough information for the person to make an informed decision. You could toss this back at the interviewer and ask, "How well do you think I would fit the job?" But be careful -- you might not like what the person has to say.