After applying for a position that you really wanted, you’re thrilled when you get the call to come in for a job interview. But job interviews can be challenging, depending on who is interviewing you and what questions they ask.
The truth is that some hiring managers count on asking those tough interview questions that can potentially trip up any candidate—and cost you the job. Check out some of the most challenging interview questions you may come across, along with strategies for what (and what not) to say.
As Medium’s Head of People, Pema Lin-Moore typically asks this question in the career history portion of the interview. “It gives me a glimpse into how a person responds to feedback that’s out of line with how they see themselves or how they wish to be seen,” she says. “You get a sense of how self-reflective a person can be, how resilient they are, and the type of environment theyve been operating in.”
When interviewing candidates for LendingHome, co-founder and CEO Matt Humphrey is on the lookout for a keen understanding of the difference between A+ performance and what he calls “A+++”.
On its face, this question might not seem to be designed to uncover motivations. But that’s exactly what Jules Walter is digging for when he asks it in interviews.
When he asks this question, Jonah Greenberger is testing for three things: proactiveness, resourcefulness and passion.
The work to overcome other misunderstandings about the role and the hiring manager’s expectations doesn’t stop once a candidate officially joins the team. To continue strengthening relationships and getting to know each other, Desai relies on an incredibly tactical framework that provides a bedrock for productive employee/manager relationships — read more about it here.
Possible answer to “What’s your work style?”
“I tend to do my best work when I’m collaborating with colleagues and we’re working together toward a common goal. I was that rare student who loved group projects and now I still get a rush of excitement when I’m planning marketing campaigns with a team and bringing new and different voices into the fold. When I was working at XYZ Agency, I made it a habit to extend invitations to folks in different departments to join certain brainstorming and feedback sessions. Some of our most successful campaigns grew out of the ideas we generated together with coworkers in IT, HR, product, and customer success. That’s why I was so excited to learn that this role would have me working closely with the product and sales teams as well as with a talented marketing team. The other thing I find is crucial to making these collaborations successful is organization and documentation, so I’m also really big on creating one central home for all materials related to a project, including meeting notes, action items, drafts of campaign copy and visuals, and timelines.”
The best managers are strong but flexible, and that’s exactly what you want to show off in your answer. (Think something like, “While every situation and every team member requires a bit of a different strategy, I tend to approach my employee relationships as a coach…”) Then share a couple of your best managerial moments, like when you grew your team from five to 15 or coached an underperforming employee to become the company’s top salesperson.
How do you stay organized?
Would you want to work with a hot mess? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Neither does anyone else. A disorganized worker doesn’t just struggle in their own role, they can also create chaos for peers, managers, direct reports, clients, customers, and anyone else they interact with. So interviewers will often ask about how you keep yourself organized to make sure you’d be able to handle the workload and gauge what you’d be like to work with. In your answer, you’ll want to reassure them you’d have things under control (both in what you say and how you say it), describe a specific system or method you’ve used (bonus points if you can tie it to the role you’re interviewing for), and explain how it benefited you and your team. Just make sure your answer is succinct and, well, organized.