Interviews: tricky, illegal, difficult, standard questions

We chose to summarize another video from the LinkedIn Learning series by Valerie Sutton, an experienced career coach, who shares her experience with tackling popular, standard, tricky, illegal interview questions.

To quote Valerie, “in the end, all questions come down to the point, why should I hire you?”. Interviewers, however, tend to phrase it in thousands of different ways.

First of all, you should know that there are 3 types of questions:

  • behavioural – based on the assumption that your past actions predict your future behaviour. These questions take the form of, “Tell me about a time…” or “Give me an example of…”
  • situational – which evaluate your problem solving, analytical and planning skills. These questions take the form of, “How/what would you do…”
  • resume based – centered around the content of your CV.

Tell me about your strengths / weaknesses”: this is a behavioral question, as interviewers want to hear specific examples of your actions which show your strengths or weaknesses. How should you handle it?

Remember to always stick to the professional field!

  • first, identify core competencies from job requirements and check which ones you possess and which you lack (ideally the least important ones)
  • for strengths: cite specific examples where you displayed those traits
  • for weaknesses: show that you have a realistic view on your weaknesses and ability to see improvement possibilities

An example of a situational question (and a tricky one at the same time): “why did you leave your previous company?”.

It means “show us you have a logical reasoning for your decisions”. Also, recruiters want to know if you are a career-oriented person or just a “jumper”. This is certainly not a place for you to complain about your previous employer! Keep it professional and don’t skip that question either – try to look at the positives of the situation that caused your decision.

Go here to learn even more about:
– Navigating difficult interviews
– Common interview questions and how to master them
– Handling tricky or difficult questions
– Handling illegal questions
– Assessing your performance
– and much more!

Previous posts from the series:
Your brand – purposeful or random mess?
When should you be a job hunter? Spoiler: Always!
How many planes are in the sky?
Transitioning out of job

Are you, an experienced manager, looking for a job or preparing for interviews? Do you need someone to give you feedback on your interview skills? Would you like to talk confidentially to a Career Angel about it? Send an email to Bichl.Sandra (at) or click here. Please note: the Skype call of approx. 45 min is confidential, non-obligatory and free of charge.