A lifetime career with a single company has disappeared in many parts of our world.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports found that the Baby Boomer generation held an average of 11.3 jobs between the ages of 18 to 44. In 2016, the BLS also reported that young adults born in the early 1980s held an average of 7.2 jobs from age 18 to 28.

Although more frequent job changes have become the norm in certain areas, job interviews can still make the most seasoned applicants nervous.  

Based on these statistics, you may be wondering how to prepare for that important interview and remain calm.  If so, follow along as best-selling author, Vicky Oliver and Adam Grant, Wharton’s top-rated professor, share their wisdom on how to capture your next job.

We also take a closer look at answers to five of today’s tough job interview questions.   

Before The Questions Begin


Be the professional job hunter who understands that the interview begins when you arrive at the office building or interview destination. “You are being watched as soon as you step off the elevator,” shares Vicky Oliver, recognized author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions’.It’s important to be engaging and friendly to anyone you meet, whether it’s the receptionist or the assistant who escorts you down the hallway.”

Classic Challenges


Q: Tell Me A Little About Yourself

People tend to ramble through their entire resume and mention personal or trivial information in answering – which is a serious mistake. Instead, keep your answers to a minute or two at the most. Cover four topics: early career, higher education/certifications, work history, and recent career experience/success.

Emphasize this last subject (e.g., improved ROI, increased profits, managed a team, et al.) Remember that this is likely to be a warm-up question. Don’t waste your best points on it and keep it clear of personal trivia such as day to day activities or vacations.

Pro tip: Author Vicky Oliver reminds us that a common job interview mistake is talking too much. The good news is that by spending time really listening during your interview – you will avoid disengaging your audience and it is likely that you will gather important information.

Q: Tell Me One Thing You Would Change About Your Last Role  

Minimize over sharing or making unflattering comments about former coworkers or managers, as you might be burning bridges. An additional area to avoid in answering this question is accidently being viewed as someone who can’t vocalize their problems as they arise.

As an example: Why didn’t you correct the issue at the time? Be prepared with an answer that doesn’t criticize a colleague or paint you into a corner. What would be a safe option to pick?

Try: outdated technology.


Group Dynamics


Q: Describe a Time When Your Group Was Not In Agreement

Inquiries pertaining to past challenges are one way for employers to anticipate your future behavior. It helps them by understanding how you behaved in the past and what you learned.

Clarify the situation concisely and explain what specific action you took to come to a consensus with the group. Then describe the results of that action. By wrapping up your answer and assigning specific numbers or targets – it will be a winning response.  

Q: Have You Ever Had A Leader Challenge A Decision?

Potential employers are looking for an answer that shows humility – together with the ability to follow direction.

Remember your answer should be telling, but it is the lesson learned, not necessarily the situation, that can land you the job.

Setting Yourself Apart


Q: Why Should I Hire You?

Although this may be one of the most overlooked questions – it is the one to get right. Unfortunately, it is also the one most candidates are unprepared to answer. This is often because the job applicants don’t do their homework on the role they are applying for. Your job is to articulate why you are the most qualified candidate.

Do your homework: review the job description and qualifications very carefully to identify the skills and knowledge that are critical to the role, then identify experiences from your past that demonstrate those skills and knowledge. The bottom line: Interviewers are not just looking to fill roles. They are looking for the right people.

Lasting Impression


If you have only one question to ask before wrapping up your job interview, remember to ask the one that Professor Adam Grant shares with Susie Poppick during his recent Money Magazine interview.


Bringing Everything Together

Have you had a recent job interview that you would like to share with our readers?

If so, take a moment to add one of your best answers to a tough job interview question in the comments section that follows.



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Kelly Isley is an international strategist, business leader, columnist, author, and pilot with more than 21 years of experience in the aerospace, finance, engineering, and healthcare industries. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and covers global workforce, workplace and leadership topics. If you have any suggestions for future articles please contact Kelly via email or twitter.