Responding to Challenging Questions

During the interview, expect to be asked the following questions. These questions are challenging in that there are a variety of methods and strategies for how to effectively respond. We strongly recommend that you schedule an appointment with a career advisor for assistance with these and other questions.

“Tell me about yourself.”

You can expect to hear this at the beginning of your interview. Prepare a thoughtful response which provides an overview of your skills, educational background and experience related to the position for which you are interviewing. Prepare for this question in advance.

“What is your major weakness?”

There are several strategies for dealing with this question.

Strategy 1: Identify a weakness that will not significantly hinder you in the job for which you are interviewing. Then highlight a strength that compensates for the weakness and/or you can describe steps you are taking to overcome the weakness.

Strategy 2: Identify a “weakness” that may also be viewed as a strength. (Be careful with this one. The “I have a tendency to take on too much” weakness gets overused, and employers get tired of hearing it.)

Strategy 3: Point out something that they already know but does not appear to be a stumbling block (a low G.P.A., or a lack of certain technical skills, and then explain why this would not impact your success).

“Why do you want to work for this company?”

The employer expects you to show knowledge of and interest in the company. Refer to the research you conducted before the interview.

“Why did you leave your last job?”

The employer is trying to find out if you had any problems on your last job. Never say anything negative about yourself or your previous employer. Some common reasons for leaving might be: general layoff, job was temporary, moved to a new area, company went out of business, no room for advancement, wanted a job more aligned with your skills, looking for more challenges.

“What are your future career plans?”

The employer wants to know if you are ambitious, plan ahead and set goals for yourself. It’s acceptable to communicate you are considering several options as opposed to describing specific details.  In the case of an internship, the employer may also want to know if you would consider working for them full time after graduation.

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