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It can be frustrating to be skilled and ready to work but yet unemployed. In countries like Canada, often the key issue is not the employer or the job market but rather how much time the individual has invested in updating their resume, re-aligning their language and understanding basic interview strategies and norms. The passion and preparedness displayed by the individual matters too, no one would hire someone who doesn’t act or portray themselves like they are best for the role. We have prepared a few materials on this page that can be downloaded. If you can spend sometime on these materials and use the links provided for your job search, we are confident you would get a job shortly. We can also email our clients any updated or new information from “Skills To Get Hired Inc.“, our affiliate job and training company.

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Job Interview Strategies

Interview Tips

  1. Do a research about the company you want to work, especially if you are called for an interview. Know the products, services, markets, competitors, trends, current activities, priorities. Basic knowledge of what they do is good enough. Sometimes you may want to speak to their staff if you know one.
  2. Prepare your answers for the type of questions you will be asked, especially, be able to say why you want the job, what your strengths are, how you will fit into the role, what your best achievements are.
  3. You should come with your own questions, or at least one question. Make sure its a good question to ask the interviewer. 
  4. If you arrive very early, you may request a copy of the company’s employment terms and conditions or employee handbook before the interview.
  5. Be thorough in your communication. Mention how what you’ve achieved in the past, will put your skills ahead of those who merely talk about it.
  6. Try to show you are in high demand. Have at least one other interview lined up, or have a recent job offer, or the possibility of receiving one from a recent job interview, and make sure you mention it to the interviewer. 
  1. Do a research about the company you want to work, especially if you are called for an interview. Know the products, services, markets, competitors, trends, current activities, priorities. Basic knowledge of what they do is good enough. Sometimes you may want to speak to their staff if you know one.
  2. Prepare your answers for the type of questions you will be asked, especially, be able to say why you want the job, what your strengths are, how you will fit into the role, what your best achievements are.
  3. You should come with your own questions, or at least one question. Make sure its a good question to ask the interviewer. 
  4. If you arrive very early, you may request a copy of the company’s employment terms and conditions or employee handbook before the interview.
  5. Be thorough in your communication. Mention how what you’ve achieved in the past, will put your skills ahead of those who merely talk about it.
  6. Try to show you are in high demand. Have at least one other interview lined up, or have a recent job offer, or the possibility of receiving one from a recent job interview, and make sure you mention it to the interviewer. 
  7. Make sure your resume/cv is up to date, looking very good and even if already supplied to the interviewer take three with you (one for the interviewer, one for you and a spare in case the interviewer brings a colleague in to the meeting).
  8. Get hold of the companies brochure or magazine. You could also google about them or read from their website. Make sure you have some information about the company. You should know the companies competition, if they have one.
  9. Review your personal goals and be able to speak openly and honestly about them and how you plan to achieve them.
  10. Ensure you have two or three really good reputable and relevant references, and check if they would be happy to be contacted.
  11. Adopt an enthusiastic, alert, positive mind-set. Your body language matters. Do you show you are scared or uncomfortable.
  12. Particularly think about how to deal positively with any negative aspects – especially from the perspective of telling the truth, instead of evading or distorting facts, which rarely succeeds. 
  13. Try to get some experience of personality tests.  Discover your personality strengths and weaknesses that would be indicated by a test, and be able to answer questions positively about the results. (Do not be intimidated by personality testing – expose yourself to it and learn about yourself.) 
  14. Think about what to wear. Don’t look awkward but safer to look professional. Neutral colors,  gray, black, and brown are the best colors for a job interview. White is also an excellent, neutral color for a blouse or button-down shirt. You can certainly add a pop of color to a neutral interview outfit. Do not wear flip-flops or jeans.
  15. Some jobs invite or offer opportunity to re-define or develop the role itself. It might be a existing role or a new position. If so prepare for this. Most jobs in fact offer this potential, but sometimes it is a stated requirement. 

Job Interview Questions And How To Respond

How would you describe yourself in one word?

You must rehearse this one. Have ready a descriptions of yourself and why you’re like it. Don’t just spout a lot of standard adjectives, say why you are like you are. Don’t ramble on and tail off. make a few clear statements and finish.

Why do they ask this? The question is likely being asked to elicit several data points: your personality type, how confident you are in your self perception, and whether your work style is a good fit for the job.

What makes it tricky? This question can be a challenge, particularly early on in the interview, because you don’t really know what personality type the manager is seeking. There is a fine line between sounding self-congratulatory versus confident, and humble versus timid. And people are multifaceted, so putting a short label on oneself can seem nearly impossible.

What response are they looking for? Proceed cautiously, if you know you’re reliable and dedicated, but love the fact that your friends praise your clever humor, stick with the conservative route. If you’re applying for an accounting job, the one word descriptor should not be “creative,” and if it’s an art director position, you don’t want it to be, “punctual,” for example. “Most employers today are seeking team players that are levelheaded under pressure, upbeat, honest, reliable, and dedicated. However, it would be a mistake to rattle off adjectives that you think will be well received. This is your opportunity to describe how your best attributes are a great match for the job as you see it.”

Why should I hire you?

It’s a straightforward question, but it can make interviewees nervous, especially if they aren’t confident or feel uncomfortable selling themselves. However, the interviewer only has a short time to get to know a potential candidate, so this question can be a valuable opportunity to make sure nothing important is left unsaid. “You should be ready to show why you are the best.”

“Do not mention the other candidates; this is a time to focus on yourself. Have a powerful, concise answer of why the company needs you.”

Sample Response:

  • I can do the work and deliver exceptional results.
  • I will fit in beautifully and be a great addition to the team.
  • I possess a combination of skills and experience that make me stand out from the crowd.

“Honestly, I possess all the skills and experience that you’re looking for. I’m pretty confident that I am the best candidate for this job role. It’s not just my background in the past projects, but also my people skills, which will be applicable in this position.

Why do you want this job?

First things first, this is an excellent opportunity for you to show off what you know about the company. You can talk all day about how excited you are about joining the team, but nothing will trump actually knowing a thing or two about the place you’re interviewing with. So, to prepare, spend some time honing in on what you know about the company and select a few key factors to incorporate into your pitch for why you’re a good fit.

Reflect back the qualities required and job priorities as being the things you do best and enjoy. Say why you think the company is good, and that you want to work for an organisation like it. Align your skills to the role.

Where do you see yourself in X years?

If the interviewer is asking in the two to five year range, it is typically to probe where you see your next role and/or promotion. If the time-frame is further out (ten years), the interviewer is looking for whether your mid-term career interests are more toward being an individual contributor or moving into management.

Candidates often feel they have to say “Hopefully being at your company” or anything very specific.  While specific can be good if you have a clear plan, often candidates are unsure. In that case, focus on the characteristics of the career situation you hope to be in at that point. If you don’t know whether you want to be working in marketing or HR, then talk about how you hope to develop your communication skills into leading a team in the future.

Also, recognize that while employers may be sincerely interested in a candidate’s plans for the future, there’s quite likely another motive. Often the intent behind this question is about longevity, will you stay with the company, or will you leave? Positions are expensive to fill, and if you are planning to leave before you even get the job, that can be a red flag. Pivot the question to the here and now, and your commitment to this position.

Note: When a hiring manager asks you this question, there may be a few things running through your brain. “Moving up the ranks,” “running this place,” or “working for myself,” for example. None of which are necessarily things you should say out loud in an interview.

Sample Response:

“My first and primary goal is to become fully productive in my role. I would like to expand that further to reach a more senior level over time as I develop additional experience and expertise. At some point in my career I realize there may be an opportunity to either follow the individual contributor or management path. I want to develop myself to be ready for either role, should the opportunity arise. Let me tell you about what I am currently doing to prepare myself for taking the industry certification exam”

How would your team describe you?

This question is meant to test a candidate’s self-awareness about their strengths, weaknesses and overall approach. It is best for candidates to provide clarity on the strengths that their colleagues have pointed out as well as their working style.  

The interviewer is looking for two things: 1) your ability to view yourself from an external perspective; and 2) potential insights from others who know you well as a third party objective opinion. In asking the question, the interviewer will likely also probe the source of the answer. So be ready to answer the follow-up question of “Why do you think they would say that?”

Stylistically, these strengths should be noted in an almost matter-of-fact sense instead of in the form of a sales pitch. When preparing for an interview, job-seekers should consider many perspectives:

  • How would their best friend describe them?
  • Their former manager
  • Their mentor? 

Such insights can be valuable not only on this question, but on related queries about personality and abilities.

The interviewer could also be effectively asking for how you were rated or reviewed in your performance by your past manager. If you have done your homework in advance, you have already asked for letters of recommendation by past managers. This provides you with the “show me” validation of your response.

Give me an example of when you’ve produced some poor work and how you’ve dealt with it.

Do not admit to having produced poor work ever. Say you’ve probably made one or two mistakes, everyone does, but that you always do everything you can to put them straight, learn from them and made sure you’ll not make the same mistake again.

Can you name three of your strengths and weaknesses?

Sample Response:
“My strength is that I’m a hard worker. My weakness is that I get stressed when I miss a deadline because someone else dropped the ball.” This answer is unimaginative, a no-brainer.

Why do they ask this? The interviewer is looking for red flags and deal breakers, such as inability to work well with coworkers and/or an inability to meet deadlines. Each job has its unique requirements, so your answers should showcase applicable strengths, and your weaknesses should have a silver lining. At the very least, you should indicate that negative attributes have diminished because of positive actions you’ve taken.

What makes it tricky? You can sabotage yourself addressing either. Exposing your weaknesses can hurt you if not ultimately turned into positives, she says. Your strengths may not align with the skill set or work style required for the job. It’s best to prepare for this question in advance, or risk landing in a minefield.

What response are they looking for? Hiring managers want to know that your strengths will be a direct asset to the new position and none of your weaknesses would hurt your ability to perform. They are also looking for your ability to self assess with maturity and confidence.

Greatest strengths:
The interviewer is attempting to identify your core competencies and whether they align with the needs of the role. The interviewer is also attempting to find out if you have an accurate view of self in relation to what is truly your greatest strength. Most practiced interviewers are aware that candidates often present false strengths in hopes of falsely aligning with the position, so a typical behavioral follow-on question is: “Can you give me an example of how you’ve used that strength in your job?” Or an even tougher question is to time-bound the behavioral question: “Can you give me an example of how you’ve demonstrated that strength in your job in the past week?” So don’t try to fake your way through the answer with a strength you cannot back up with examples. Another experienced interviewer method to get past your practiced answer is to ask: “What is your second greatest strength?” and “What is your third greatest strength?”

Greatest Weaknesses:
The interviewer is exploring three things in this one question: 1) whether you are self-aware; 2) whether you are honest; and 3) whether you seek to improve. This is the question where many interviewees somehow think it is permissible to lie, yet an experienced interviewer can nail someone in their lie pretty quickly. Most interview books say to give a strength, but present it as a weakness, such as: “I work too much. I just work and work and work and don’t know when to stop.” Here’s how a practiced interviewer will pierce through that lie: “So you think working too much is a weakness? So you want to be working less?” There is no good response when you are caught in a lie.


Do you have any questions for me?

This is by far the hardest question for an interviewee, in part because it takes a lot of thought and research to put together questions that are useful and convey genuine interest and effort on the part of the job-seeker. “Always,  have questions ready to go,”  They will usually ask this early or at the end of the interview.

Do not make them answer questions that you could have Googled and gotten the answer. Ask questions about the culture, about the interviewer and how they like their job or the company, how success is measured in this role, ask questions no one but that interviewer can answer for you. If you do not bring questions, that may imply you do not care.

Why do you want to leave your current job?

How you talk about your current employer is a reflection of your character. There is no better way for people to let down their guard than to be asked about a job they hate. Complaining about their former jobs, coworkers or employers won’t put prospective employees in a favorable light, even if the grievances are valid. It’s often suggested that interviewees focus instead on the opportunity they are pursuing. Like, “Looking for career growth’ or “The desire to move to a new level in your career is a common reason for leaving a job”.

The most effective and acceptable reasons for leaving your current job should be positive, not negative, try to relate it to moving forward in your life or career. Some of the most common, and easiest to explain, reasons for leaving a job include:
– Desire to learn.
– Desire to take on more responsibility.

Why do they ask this? Your prospective boss is looking for patterns or anything negative, especially if your positions are many and short-term. They may try to determine if you currently have or had issues working with others leading to termination, if you get bored quickly in a job, or other red flags.

What makes it tricky? No one likes talking about a job they dislike and why. If not answered diplomatically, your answer could raise further questions and doubts, or sink your chances entirely.

What response are they looking for? They are hoping that you’re seeking a more challenging position that is a better fit for your current skill set. Know that hiring managers don’t mind hearing that you’re particularly excited about the growth opportunity at their company.

Sample Response:

  • You are looking for better career prospects, professional growth and work opportunities.
  • You want a change in career direction.
  • You are looking for new challenges at work.
  • I love my role and coworkers, but I’ve come to a point where there are no longer growth opportunities on my team.

What did you achieve in your last job?

This is the best interview question of all time. Why? Because it provides a behavioral foundation for focusing specifically on the top result of the candidate’s career. And it allows the interviewer to drill into detail about each of the behavioral S-T-A-R components: the Situation or Task, the Action you took and the Results achieved. While many candidates answer this question backward (starting with the achievement and/or result and working backward to explain how it was achieved), it allows the interviewer to dig deep into how much of that accomplishment was actually due to the actions of the candidate and how much was from the actions of others.

Make sure you have prepared a number of relevant examples and explain one (two or three if they’re punchy and going down well). Make sure you feature as the instigator, or the factor that made the difference. Examples must lead to significant organisational benefits; making money, saving money/time, improving quality, anticipating or creatively solving problems, winning/keeping customers, improving efficiency.

For most people this can be a tough question which will expose a lack of preparation or relevant experience. The question and answer show whether any achievements have been made, and what values are placed on work.

Points to Emphasize
  • Mention skills that are relevant to the position you are interviewing for.
  • Discuss professional and personal skills you have learned.
  • Spin any negative experiences into positive ones.
  • Align your answer with the values of the company.

Can you tell me about yourself?

Points to Emphasize:
  1. Mention past experiences and proven successes as they relate to the position.
  2. Consider how your current job relates to the job you’re applying for.
  3. Focus on strengths and abilities that you can support with examples.
  4. Highlight your personality to break the ice.

Why do they ask this? They ask to determine how the candidates see themselves as it pertains to the position and how confidently they can communicate their skills. The employer wants to hear that the candidate did their homework. If this opening answer is weak, it can send the remainder of the interview into a tailspin or cut the interview short.

What makes it tricky? It can tempt you to talk about your personal life, which you shouldn’t! Most candidates are not versed in seeing this as a trick question, so they may answer by speaking from a personal perspective: ‘I have three kids, I’m married, etc, although it may not be wise to inject too much of your personal life into the interview, unless it will be helpful to your response.

What response are they looking for? A focused answer conveying your value to the organization and department. The employer wants to hear about your achievements, broken down into two or three succinct bullet answers that will set the tone of the interview.

Sample Response:
“I am known for turning around poor performance teams as a result of my innate skills in analyzing problems and seeing solutions very quickly.”

This above statement tells the interviewer that the candidate has analytical skills, problem-solving ability, and leadership ability that enables them to turn around business performance.

How do you define success?

Sample Response:

  • “I define success as living my true purpose and having a positive impact on the lives of people by uplifting them and inspiring them to think and act in ways that they may not have considered before.”
  • “Applying my brand expertise to the strategic marketing goals you’ve established for XYZ company, building on your existing success.”

The interviewer is looking for both your motivation and your measurement system. In a way, this is a work ethic question, since it is asking about how you define success. But it is more than that. The interviewer is looking beyond the definition for success and actually looking for how you plan to achieve that success. Or if you have a plan at all.

Why do they ask this? Interviewers want insight into your priorities: are you motivated by big paychecks? Being challenged? Learning new skills? Or, do you take a more personal, individualistic approach to success?

What makes it tricky? This one is a minefield, since “success” is highly subjective, and even a perfectly reasonable response can be easily misinterpreted. There’s a fine line between sounding ambitious and appearing as if you’re eyeing the top spot in the office, because you really want to advance and make a difference.

What response are they looking for? When questions are broad and leave a lot of room for a virtual inquisition, experts advise you keep your answers relatively unobjectionable. Try to define success in a way that relates to the prospective employer, based on what you know from the job description and conversation. 

What personal goals do you have and how are you going about achieving them?

Prepare for this, be able to state your personal and career goals, keep them reasonable, achievable and balanced. Explain how you see the steps to reaching your aims. An important part of achieving progress is planning how to do it. Be able to demonstrate that you’ve thought and planned, but also show that you are flexible and adaptable, because it’s impossible to predict the future. The important thing is to learn and develop, and take advantage of opportunities as they come along.

For example, mention how you want to position yourself to have more time to volunteer and put your skills to work to benefit others. This is an opportunity to discuss your leadership skills and people skills in more detail, persuading a potential employer that you’re the best fit for the job.

This exposes those with little or no initiative. People who don’t plan or take steps to achieve their own personal progress will not be pro-active at work either. People who don’t think and plan how to progress will tend to be reactive and passive, which is fine if the role calls for no more, but roles increasingly call for planning and action rather than waiting for instructions.

Sample Response:

  • My personal goal is simply to be successful, and I don’t mean money. Whatever I choose to do I simply want to enjoy it, to be good at it, and to continue bettering myself.

Describe a time when your job conflicted with your ethics?

Sample Response:

“We had a difficult situation in my last job where some information came to light about improper hiring evaluation practices on the part of one of my coworkers. That person asked me not to say anything about it, yet it was a clear violation of our hiring practices, so I reported it to my manager, who then reported it to HR. It was handled per our company policy from that point forward”

How did you handle the situation?

When employers ask this question, they want to know that a candidate will handle uncomfortable situations honorably, discreetly and tactfully. It will be wise to move with caution when asked this question. “Do not overshare and do not throw people under the bus.” Focus on your behavior and response to the situation, and how you attempted to deal with it in the most honest and upstanding way possible.

The interviewer is probing both your ability to discern ethical issues as well as how you react to them. This is a very difficult question for most candidates to answer, since few are prepared in advance with an example and therefore often blurt out a response without fully thinking through the answer.

Use a situation with a clearly unambiguous ethical conflict, ideally one that occurred in your work and where you had a professional responsibility to respond. Do not choose a situation where the ethics violation is questionable nor subjective. The ethics violated should be a clear case in which anyone would agree it was an ethics violation. And if you haven’t encountered this type of situation, simply say so, although a good interviewer may probe further with: “You really have never faced any ethical conflicts in your life?” Clearly we all have, so it is best to have your clearest example selected in advance.

What career regrets do you have?

Why do they ask this? The interviewer is really asking, “Is there something bad about you that I cannot see, and if there is, can I get you to admit it? Do you carry psychological baggage that you don’t need? How readily do you forgive yourself, and others?”

What makes it tricky? “Regret” is a loaded word, try not to point it your way, or show too much emotion.

What response are they looking for? You should be giving the interviewer “a little bit of grit,” but says you should try to avoid using the word “regret.”

Instead, “focus on something positive and say you wished you’d done more of it. Then stop talking.”

Sample Response:

“Rather than feeling sorry for myself because I turned down the XYZ job, I started looking for other opportunities that I knew could lead me to great, and possibly better learning experiences.”

How do you balance work and family commitments?

Say balance is essential. All work and no play isn’t good for anyone, but obviously work must come first if you want to do well and progress. Planning and organising my work well, and getting results, generally means that I have time for my outside interests and there’s no conflict.

This can expose those with outside interests that may prevail over work commitments (keen sports-people, etc., people who cannot put work first.)

Sample Response:

“With my kids in school, it’s really easy to manage my time. I have the full day to myself and I want to be productive by helping a company grow.” “I’m very organized and I plan everything I do. This helps me to easily find a balance between family and work.”

What do you think of your last employer?

Don’t be critical. If possible be generous with praise and say why, giving positive reasons. If there was a conflict don’t lie, but describe fairly and objectively without pointing blame. Your goal is to talk about your skills and the new position you hope to get. Do not derail from your primary objective. This exposes back-biting, bitterness, grudges, inability to handle relationships. Exposes people who can’t accept the company-line.

Points to Emphasize:

  • Round out the evaluation, so that it gives the hiring manager insight into both the positive and the negative traits of your old boss in a rounded way.
  • Focus all criticism, positive and negative, on aspects of the performance that can be measured for improvement or easily cross-referenced in the same way. 
  • Never criticize personal habits when you could be focused on higher-priority aspects of someone’s performance.

Can you give us a reason someone may not like working with you?

Why do they ask this? Prospective bosses want to know if there are any glaring personality issues, and what better way that to go direct to the source? They figure that the worst that can happen is you will lie, and they may feel they’re still adept at detecting mistruths. The negative tone of the question is bound to test the mettle of even the most seasoned business professionals.

What makes it tricky? You can easily shoot yourself in the foot with this question. If you’re flip and say, I can’t think of a reason anyone wouldn’t like working with me, you’re subtly insulting the interviewer by trivializing the question. So you have to frame the question in a way that gets at the intent without being self-effacing. Hiring managers are not seeking job candidates who have self-pity.

What response are they looking for? You don’t want to say, “Well I’m not always the easiest person to be around, particularly when under deadlines. I sometimes lose my temper too easily.” You might as well pack up and look for the nearest exit. Conversely, you can lead with the positive and go from there: Generally I’ve been fortunate to have great relationships at all my jobs. The only times I have been disliked — and it was temporary — was when I needed to challenge my staff to perform better. Sometimes I feel we must make unpopular decisions that are for the larger good of the company.

How much do you expect to get paid?

Be honest about what you’ve been earning and realistic about what you want to earn. This exposes unrealistic people. An opportunity to demonstrate you understand the basic principle that everyone needs to justify their cost. Extra pay should be based on extra performance or productivity.

This can be a tough one,  “You can either clearly give a figure or a range based on what you see as your worth. Too often candidates give a lowball number out of fear, and then get disappointed with the compensation, rather than indexing their compensation to the value they will bring.” It’s also important to discuss the full compensation package, not just salary. Consider the hours you have to work, the amount of time off, health benefits, employee perks and discounts, commute time and other factors. It won’t look good to sound like you don’t have a clue what you should be paid or what you are worth. So, do your homework before the interview. You can use salary from similar postings that may reflect an amount.

The interviewer is testing your money/salary expectations up against the range for the role. If you are outside the allowable range, it may not be worth pursuing you as a candidate. The general rule with money is the person who speaks first loses. So don’t give a number. Instead, turn it back with a question. If the interviewer presses without giving you a number (this can and will happen), you can either ask another question or give a broad general range for the role.

Sample Response:

  • “Well, I would like to earn the maximum amount, since I want to pay off my student loans as quickly as possible. Is $100K doable for you?”

  • “Thanks for asking this question, since I want to make sure we’re in alignment on salary. What salary range do you typically pay other entry level candidates with similar education and experience?” 

Are you a team player?

The interviewer wants to know how well you will perform in a team environment. This is a closed-end question which could be answered yes/no, but the interviewer will typically probe further for specifics. This can be a difficult question for an interviewer to probe, since almost everyone answers yes to the question and then tries to back it up with team results. One of the most difficult aspects of interviewing is understanding what the candidate accomplished vs. what the candidate’s team accomplished.

The best approach to answering this question: Give an example of how you have worked in a positive way with your team. For managers, this can take on a second dimension of managing a team. For most, however, it should be focused on how we interact with and communicate with others at a peer level on a work team and the results achieved, making note of outstanding contributions to the team. Final note: in spite of the temptation, do not answer with sports analogies or sports cliches.

Sample Response:

“I understand and appreciate the fact that a team environment is both productive and efficient. I have the ability to compromise, show respect to others and listen to the needs of my teammates. While I can be a leader when necessary, I can also play an equal role on the team when the situation merits.”

Why do you want to work here?

Why do they ask this? Interviewers ask this because they want to know what drives you the most, how well you’ve researched them, and how much you want the job.

What makes it tricky? Clearly you want to work for the firm for several reasons. But just how you prioritize them reveals a lot about what is important to you. You may be thinking to yourself, “I’m not getting paid what I’m worth,” or, “I have a terrible boss,” or, “All things being equal, this commute is incredibly short”, none of which endears you to the hiring manager. You’re also being tested on your level of interest for the job.”

What response are they looking for? Hiring managers want to see that you’ve taken the time to research the company and understand the industry.

They also want to know that you actually want this job (and not just any job); that you have a can-do attitude; that you are high energy; that you can make a significant contribution; that you understand their mission and goals; and that you want to be part of that mission.

How do you handle tension/stress?

Most jobs involve some amount of pressure or stress. However, by the interviewer asking this question, it is an indicator that the job has some level of pressure or stress. It may have been why a past person has not performed well in the role, so it is being used now as a gating question for potential candidates. The interviewer is looking for your personal assessment of how well you respond to pressure and stress in delivering in your role.

You could respond by saying you tend not to get tense or stressed because you plan head and organise properly. Say you look after the other things that can cause stress – health, fitness, diet, lifestyle, etc. Talk about channeling pressure positively, thinking, planning, keeping a balanced approach.

Other helpful resources, but not all will not be a good response in an interview:

  1. Act Rather Than React. “We experience stress when we feel that situations are out of our control.”
  2. Take A Deep Breath.
  3. Eliminate Interruptions.
  4. Schedule Your Day For Energy And Focus.
  5. Eat Right And Sleep Well. 
  6. Change Your Story, or the topic.
  7. Cool Down Quickly.
  8. Identify Self-Imposed Stress, and plan to manage it.
  9. Develop healthy responses.
  10. Establish boundaries.
  11. Take time to recharge.
  12. Learn how to relax.
  13. Talk to your supervisor.
  14. Get some support.

Why have you been out of work for so long?

Why do they ask this? “Interviewers are skeptical by design.”  “Sometimes you’re guilty until proven innocent, until all the perceived skeletons in the closet have been removed.” This is a daunting question in particular because it can seem offensive. The implication is that you might not be motivated enough to secure a job; you are being distracted by other pursuits; your skills set may not be up to date; there is an issue with your past employers, or a host of other concerns.

What makes it tricky? The way it’s worded is naturally designed to test your resilience.  The key is not to take the bait and just answer the intent of the question in a calm, factual manner.

What response are they looking for? The hiring manager wants be assured that you possess initiative even when unemployed, as this drive and tenacity will translate well in a corporate setting.

Sample Responses:

  • “I’m active in my job search, and I keep my skills current through [courses, volunteering, social media, business networking groups].”
  • “I have been interviewing steadily, but want to find the ideal fit before I jump in and give my typical 110%,”

If you took off time to take care of a personal matter, you can certainly state that without giving a lot of detail. Make sure you’re accountable. Don’t blame the unemployment rate, your market, industry, or anything else. This is about how active and excited you are to be making a contribution to the employer.

What was the last book you read and how did it affect you?

Be honest, as the interviewer might have read it too. There’s no shame in admitting to lightweight reading material if that’s what you like, put it in context, why you read it, and give a positive result, whatever it is. Be able to give an intelligent reaction to what you’ve read. Don’t be too clever or try to impress as nobody likes a smart-ass.

What’s a difficult situation that you turned around? Describe it to us.

What do they ask this? This gives hiring managers a lot of information in one fell swoop. They want to know, not only know how you handle stressful situations, but also how you think through problems, how you define ‘difficult,’ and what courses of action you take when faced with any form of adversity.”

What makes it tricky? It’s easy to interpret this as an invitation to brag about the success of your turnaround. Don’t fall for it. The emphasis is really on how you generally problem-solve under pressure.  Do you illustrate any signs of stress as you describe the event? Were you creative, resourceful and prompt in its resolution? Did you follow a logical path in doing so? Choose your examples extremely carefully, since they’ll give employers a glimpse at what you consider to be “difficult.”

What response are they looking for? Interviewers want to see that you’re a good problem solver, Taylor says. They place a premium on those who can think clearly, remain professional when under the gun, and those who can recover quickly from setbacks. To ace the question, be sure you go into the meeting with a prepared with a few examples of times you successfully overcame significant professional challenges.

Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership?

What makes this prompt difficult is that it is often asked of candidates who have not formally managed others.
“That said, the question is about ‘leadership’, and candidates often forget about common situations where they may have demonstrated leadership by being proactive, and motivating and influencing others.” Candidates don’t have to limit themselves to examples of formal leadership; any well-executed exhibition of leadership qualities will work.

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Discrimination is unlawful but it happens

A Few Things To Know

Unethical Interview Questions

As many most people should know,  it is illegal or unethical in most countries for an employer to use any information regarding your family life to make a hiring decision. In fact, it is illegal to make hiring decisions based on any of the following:

  • Age
  • Race, ethnicity, or color
  • Gender or sex
  • Country of national origin or birth place
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Marital or family status or pregnancy

Nonetheless, often times employers will ask these questions anyway because there is not much a job seeker can do to combat these intrusive questions. Unless you can lawyer up and prove that the employer has systematically discriminated against you (and others) based on one of the above, there is not much repercussion for employers who do slip these questions in. It is unethical and inappropriate by most standards.

Here is how you can answer the question:

  • “I believe I am a great fit for this role because of xyz and am a very committed ________ professional. My performance in my career will never be impacted by whatever decisions I choose to make in my family and personal life.”

As many most people should know,  it is illegal or unethical in most countries for an employer to use any information regarding your family life to make a hiring decision. In fact, it is illegal to make hiring decisions based on any of the following:

  • Age
  • Race, ethnicity, or color
  • Gender or sex
  • Country of national origin or birth place
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Marital or family status or pregnancy

Nonetheless, often times employers will ask these questions anyway because there is not much a job seeker can do to combat these intrusive questions. Unless you can lawyer up and prove that the employer has systematically discriminated against you (and others) based on one of the above, there is not much repercussion for employers who do slip these questions in. It is unethical and inappropriate by most standards.

When you are faced with this situation, the best thing is to just address the question very vaguely and try to steer the conversation away from your family life. Personally, I think it is ineffective to ask “will my answer to this question impact your hiring decision?” or “how does the answer to this question relate to my ability to do the job?”. The employer could always just lie and say “no, your answer does not impact the hiring decision”, and any answer they give to the second question is just going to open a can of worms.

Here is how you can answer the question:

  • “I think that this opportunity aligns very well with my career goals and I have the skills necessary to succeed. In general, I do not let my personal life impact my career. I have always been able to balance both.”
  • “Hmm… kids are about the last thing on my mind right now. Do you have any other question regarding my skills and how they fit the responsibilities of this role?”
  • “I believe I am a great fit for this role because of xyz and am a very committed ________ professional. My performance in my career will never be impacted by whatever decisions I choose to make in my family and personal life.”

Unethical Interview Questions

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Lilia Iyamabo

Lilia Iyamabo is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) with an in-depth understanding of the challenges posed to prospective applicants and the level of detail immigration officers look for when assessing applications. This experience has positioned Resettle In Canada with insightful and valuable tools in representing clients on immigration matters. Lilia prides herself as a diligent, articulate professional and an authorized representative by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Citizenship Act, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and the respective Government Regulations of Canada.

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