The Five Worst Job Interview Questions Ever - And How to Deal With Them

Jobseekers hate interviews. What’s to like? You have to dress up in your most uncomfortable clothes, put on the shoes that pinch your feet, and go somewhere you have never been before to try and impress people that you don’t know—and already don’t like.

What makes it even worse is when you finally get to the interview, you are asked vague and meaningless questions meant to make you trip and stumble. But, you really want and need the job, so you wipe a layer of sweat off your forehead, and grin and bear it.

It’s not an easy process. And we’ve all been there.

To help make your life a little easier, here’s our list of the most common, yet difficult to answer, questions asked during job interviews—and how to deal with them.

1. Tell me about yourself.

The bad: That’s more of a statement than a question. And that’s just the problem. The interviewer is not asking you anything specific; they haven’t set any parameters or given you a starting point.

The good: This is a good opportunity to show the employer that you can take control of any situation. Prepare a pitch of your unique professional accomplishments in advance: you shouldn’t regurgitate what you’ve prepared word for word at the interview, but know roughly what you will be talking about.

2. Where do you see yourself in five year?

The bad: This question is hard to answer because you may not have a clear picture of you will be in that time. Aim too high and you may be perceived as arrogant and overambitious. Aim too low and you may be perceived as unmotivated and small-minded.

The good: You can use this question to create a link between yourself and the company—and help the employer see the connection. For example, your answer might be a more tailored version of: “I’d like to see myself here, learning new things, taking on new responsibilities, and progressing to the next level. I’d like to be making a positive impact here.” Take a minute to think about your response and make it as natural as possible.

3. What are your weaknesses?

The bad: This is a trap. If you really do tell the employer your biggest fault, you’ve just given them perfect excuse to not hire you. If you tell them that you have no weaknesses, they will see you as dishonest and insincere.

The good: There is a solution: turn your negative into a positive. For instance, say “I spend too much time double-checking and triple-checking everything.” This is a positive masked as a negative: what employer will walk away with is that you are a reliable employee who tries hard to perfect his/her work.

4. Why did you leave your last job?

The bad: You left your last job for a reason, and probably not because you loved it too much. This question leaves you between a rock and a hard place, because you have to fault someone—yourself, your employer, or circumstances—for the change. And none of these options will make you look good.

The good: This is your chance to address your wants and needs from the potential employer. One tip is to be honest in your answer, especially if there is an incentive to lie. Whether or not they catch your fib, it’s not the way you want to start off a new professional relationship. The trick is to tell the truth but focus on the positive.

For example, say “the company restructured and my role was eliminated. I really liked my job and was sad to leave. But I believe that I can do really well here and am looking forward to new learning experiences.”

5. What makes you stand out from the other candidates?

The bad: You don’t know anything about the other candidates, not their qualifications or personalities. So, how would you know what makes you stand out? Or even whether or not you do stand out?

The good: You can summarize and reiterate your strengths and achievements here, plus add tidbits that you haven’t yet mentioned. Give concrete examples of your skills and abilities and explain how they would benefit the specific company. This question is typically asked near the end of the interview, so take advantage of what you have observed and learned about the interviewer and company, and customize your response accordingly.