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How To Face A Challenging Interview

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Job interviews! Well, this gives most of us butterflies in our stomach. Nobody likes them, but you need to cross the barrier to get your dream job. All of us know it’s about demonstrating confidence: standing straight, making eye contact and connecting with a firm handshake. That first nonverbal impression can be a great beginning -- or quick ending -- to your interview.

1.  Control how you react. Be calm!

Your interviewer might try to destabilize you, likely to see how you behave under pressure. To counter the approach, anchor your feet to the floor and take a deep breath before you answer each question slowly and calmly.

The goal is not to let these scare tactics intimidate you, so beware that you’re not playing with your hair, fiddling with your jewelry or shifting from foot to foot, all classic signs of anxiety.

Then, tune into your feelings, and ask yourself if you like the environment or whether you could see yourself working at the company (or for a boss who likes to keep you off-balance).

Remember, job interviews are a two-way street–-it’s also an opportunity to see if the company and the position would be a good fit for you.

2.  “Stress” Interviews

You’re probably thinking, “Aren’t all interviews stressful?”

But stress interviews are a different breed. They could include an interviewer suddenly lobbing an oddball question like, “If you were to get rid of one state in the India, which it would be and why?”

Your interviewer might also start rapid-fire questioning or adopt an aggressive or argumentative attitude. And the degree of stress applied will vary: A mildly stressful question might be: “What makes you think you’re qualified for this job when you’ve had minimal relevant experience?”

What to do?

First, don’t just write off the interviewer as a total jerk. Consider that job candidates can predict most interview questions and have a prepared response for each one; by resorting to bizarre questions and comments like the above, they want to see how the “real” you reacts to something.

And, perhaps more important than what you answer is the fact that you’re being assessed on your creativity, your ability to think on your feet and your capacity for handling criticism.

What should be your mantra? Maintain grace under fire.

If you find yourself in this situation, Relax. Consider it a challenge—and a chance to impress your potential employer. If you get choked up, take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. It’s better to have a moment of silence than rush into an answer. And above all, don’t become defensive; instead, act professional. Your confidence and composure are sure to impress.

3.  What’s your weakness question?

Your best bet is to be honest. The perfect compromise is to put a positive spin on your weakness, without seeming too perfect. “Explain your weakness and how you’ve been able to manage it.”

4.  The Early-Onset Salary Question

Usually the salary question comes later, but sometimes a hiring manager will throw it at you in the first meeting.

How do you keep yourself in the running if the money question comes up early? There are two options you can try, depending on the situation you’re in: Either deflect the question for another time, or name a number in the higher range.

For the first option, ask if you could wait until a later date to discuss salary. Say that you’re incredibly interested in the role, but would rather discuss compensation when you’ve both determined that you’re the right candidate for the job.

5.  Innocent Inquiries About Your Personal Life

“What are your hobbies?” It’s a seemingly innocent question that allows insight into your personality and can help determine if you’re company material. For instance, if you and the interviewee both enjoy table tennis or mountain climbing, that’s a common interest that can make you stand out.

Just don’t be too enthusiastic. We know of a candidate who was passed over for a job because he seemed more excited about his side job than about the job he was interviewing for.

If asked what you like to do in your free time, do feel free to mention a hobby that is entirely separate from work, but shows your creativity (like photography) or persistence (like running marathons).

6.  “Do You Have Any Questions for Me?”

Always, always have questions for your interviewer. And yes, you will be judged on the amount of research you’ve done about them and the company, as well as your thoughtfulness.

A few good rules of thumb: Research your interviewer, and the jobs they’ve held in the past. At a bare minimum, read up on any recent press releases the company has written or new products they’ve launched.

Then, stay present and engaged throughout the interview so you have relevant questions to ask at the end.

There are also some greatest-hits questions to bring. Ask about the biggest challenges the company is currently facing. Their response will give you a sense of how you could be part of the solution.

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Contributed By: Ritu Sanghvi Posted: 9 years ago