5Ws ChecklistFinding good options for good-paying work in these trying economic times is hard enough. However, some would argue that preparing for today’s job interviews is even tougher. Job interviews are notorious for being peppered with verbal traps for interviewees to fall into.

Tough questions abound, your answers to which could make or break whether or not you’re actually seriously considered. Let’s take a look at three of today’s toughest and most commonly asked interview questions, as well as prep you on how you should answer if they’re lobbed your way.

1. Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult co-worker or someone you didn’t like. How did you handle it?

Your first instinct is probably going to be to tell the interviewer that this has never happened. You’re such a team player and a people person that you get along with everyone and never run into this problem. However, the interviewer will also know that you’re lying if you say that. No one gets along with everyone all the time. Every job requires people to work with people they’re not exactly fans of, so be honest, but tactful.

Talk about a time you dealt with someone you didn’t like as a person, but who had other terrific qualities that made them a good worker. Explain how focusing on their strong work ethic and positive qualities helped you find common ground.

2. Can you explain the large gap in your employment history?

If you’re like a lot of people, then it’s certainly possible that you have been unemployed for a while, or that you were for a period in the past. Many potential employers are going to ask about it. While this can understandably be nerve wracking, it is certainly possible to use it to your advantage.

Talk about the organized, structured plan you made to reenter the workforce with a vengeance and explain how, in your free time, you chipped away at your project-in-waiting list at home. Emphasize how much you accomplished, but also mention how ready you are to get back into the fray of employment.

3. What does your ultimate dream job look like?

Some people are tempted to brown-nose a bit and say something like “this one.” However, as with the answer to the first question, a potential employer is already going to know that that’s not necessarily true. However, you also don’t want to give the interviewer the impression you’re going to fly the coop the minute the position you’re really looking for presents itself.

A good way to answer this question is to start by describing a childhood dream job (like baseball pitcher) and explain how as you grew, you realized that you had other talents (marketing, customer care, graphic design, and so forth) and developed a desire to put them to good use out there in the work force. Naturally, the skills you highlight should tie into the position you’re applying for.


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