How to Answer Frustrating Interview Questions

Preparing for an interview is similar to how a team practices for a game; you can never be too prepared. This includes figuring out the best route to the office, learning all about the company and studying up on some common interview questions and how to answer them.

Depending on the interview stage, employers might try to throw you a curve ball or two. While they might not place as much emphasis on the answer to the question, they could be looking to see how you handle adversity. These questions may be important to the hiring manager, but are often frustrating to the interviewee for a variety of reasons: they may be poorly worded, have no right answer or irrelevant to the job itself.

In the preparation for your next interview, it is important to be wary of these questions and how to answer them. In an article for CNBC’s Make It, HR professional Debby Carreau has seven examples of the most “annoying” and commonly asked interview questions.

“What is your biggest weakness?”

This is one of the most commonly asked interview questions, regardless of the job you applied to. The interviewer is actually asking how self-aware you are. Instead of saying one of the classic responses, “I have no weaknesses,” “I work too hard,” or “I care too much,” you can provide a fact-based answer. There are a variety of personality and career assessments out there including the DiSC and  MBTI that you can take in order to better understand yourself and be prepared for future interviews.

Next time you’re asked this question, you can show the interviewer how self-aware you are and provide a fact-based answer based on the results from your assessment. In addition, this will show that you’re interested in further developing yourself and took the initiative to take the next step. You can also use your results to delve into what your strengths are without sounding pompous.

“Are you planning on having children or getting married?”

These questions are most often asked when engaging in small talk before the interview, or the “getting to know each other” phase. Believe it or not, this question is actually illegal to ask during an interview so you don’t have to answer it. However, if you decide to NOT answer it, you are likely hurting your hiring chances, so it becomes a tricky situation to navigate. Interviewers usually ask this question to find out how committed you are to the job.

If you choose to answer this question, Carreau recommends being direct and honest. On the other end of the spectrum, if you deem this question inappropriate and decide not to answer, pivot the conversation by saying something like “my career is my main focus.”

“Tell me about a time you faced an extraordinary challenge. How did you address it?”

You are almost guaranteed to get a question where you have to rely on your past experience. Interviewers want to see how you handled a time that you stepped out of your comfort zone. The tip for answering this question is to use the STAR method. If you’re unfamiliar, STAR stands for:

  • Situation: Explain when and where did this take place.
  • Task: Share what was your role in this example.
  • Action: Share the steps you took to address this issue.
  • Result: Describe the outcome and what you learned as a result.

The problem people encounter when answering this question is not being able to come up with an example right off the bat. This is where your pre-interview preparation comes into play.

For the rest of the most frustrating interview questions, check out the full article here.

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