Tough interview questions

31 Jan

A student complained to me about a tough question she received at a PR work experience interview. ‘What sector are you hoping to work in?’ she was asked. She’s capable, but still in her first year, and so found it hard to answer. Yet it’s only a variant of the most predictable interview question of all: ‘Why do you want to work for our company?’

The hardest final interview question I ever faced was when I was asked to summarise the strengths and weaknesses of all the colleagues within the same company who had interviewed me previously. It’s hard to remember and analyse the information, thinking on your feet; it’s hard to know how critical or how fawning to be of colleagues you might find yourself working with. In other words, it was a brilliant line of questioning for a senior public relations post. I didn’t get the job.

One Response to “Tough interview questions”

  1. Linda Hamburger 31/01/2005 at 11:58 pm #

    The toughest questions I ever received starting out — I had my many samples and the guy asked, “well, how do I know they were published?” …It took years before I finally hit on the simple and obvious answer — who cares? My samples are just that – they show my writing style and what I am capable of.
    The second toughest question: What reporters do you know? I still get this one and I’ve been in practice over 20 years. The answer still remains — who cares? reporters experience turn-over in positions and it is more important that I know how to contact them and how to write something newsworthy, not something fluffy and spammy.
    Some things just may never change. Educating the interviewer is what I do. But, better still… show them by being a success even if you have to take a few “pro bono” clients to get a reputation started for excellence.

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