Spinning the Negative
One way that interviewers can catch you off guard is asking seemingly negative questions. You spend so much time preparing to sell yourself in the most positive light possible- it can be unsettling when you’re taken off this track of thinking.
What is your biggest weakness?
Give an honest answer- being too committed to doing quality work isn’t a weakness and you know it. The best way to approach this question is to provide the interviewer with a very teachable skill. Don’t give them personality traits to worry about, and focus on what is relevant to your interviewer. If you don’t have industry experience- tell them this instead of letting them know that you have a difficult time working with others.
What is the biggest misconception that people have about you?
This is a tricky question- because it does address non-tangible aspects of your background. The best advice we can offer here is to avoid extremes. Use this opportunity to humanize the interview process- let them know that people think you’re shy but when in reality it just takes a little bit of time for you to develop relationships with your peers.
What is a recent mistake you made, and how did you handle it?
This is a great question- but is framed in such a way that it can catch you off guard. The interviewer is looking for the way that you problem solve and the way that you work with others. Find a small-medium mistake that you made (avoid letting them know that one of your recent blunders cost the company $100k) and focus on how you handled the problem. They want to know that you can admit to your mistakes and have good follow-through skills.
When have you worked with someone difficult and how have you overcome it?
Again, your interviewer is looking for the way that you work with others. They don’t actually want to hear about all of the jerks that always seem to pop-up in your life (if everyone around you is incompetent and negative it might actually just be you). They want to know that you have the ability to achieve your professional goals, deadlines, projects, etc. when working with a wide variety of people. Outline a time that you and another person had different ideas- how you worked around this, and what your ultimate (very positive) outcome was.
What is your least favorite part about your job?
This is tricky- because it really depends on the job that you’re interviewing for. You can’t list anything that can be applied to the position that you want. Find something that won’t relate- like disliking the erratic hours or wanting to find something more nearby.
Why do you want to leave your current job?
Never ever speak ill of a previous employer- this will reflect poorly on you and not on them. Talk about restructuring, commute, or that you’re looking for a more challenging position. Similarly to the last question- find any reason that can’t be applied to the position that you’re interviewing for, because the interviewer will apply it to the job at hand.