Interview Tips for the Tongue-Tied

Job interviews are no walk in the park, and not all interview questions are created equally. Some will be more challenging than others and it may seem like hiring managers are out to trick or stump interviewees. That isn’t usually the case; the process they set up is an opportunity to gain the information they need to evaluate if you, the candidate, is a match for the position and for the company.


To avoid stumbling and stuttering your way through interviews, here are some ways to handle the tougher questions.


Tell me about yourself.

This is your elevator pitch, your opportunity to reference your academic qualifications and how you gained your skills/experience related to the role you are applying for.


What do you know about this company?

Make sure you’ve done your research, looked at their website, and/or even gone as far to reach out to the current and past employees about the company, what it stands for, the culture and why they like working there.


Tell me about any recent developments in the marketplace that may affect our business.

Look at industry news and trends to understand the industry landscape, especially if you’ve been out of work for any length of time.


How would you add value to our company?

Think about the role you are applying for and match your skills, experience, and qualifications to show you have what they want using specific examples. Go the extra mile and include data (“I took over project X at my last company and grew the initiative by 45% in the first quarter”).


Give me an example of when you had to solve a problem, how did you do it and what was the outcome?

You’ll have lots of these. Think of relevant problems that relate to the position you are applying for so you can show how you’ve overcome or handled the situation. Draw on examples from group and individual assignments; work experiences or extra-curricular activities.


What is your biggest achievement in life?

I’m sure you’ve had this question frequently too. Choose sporting, academic, voluntary, charitable or travel related examples. This is a great opportunity to set expectations for work-life balance!


Tell me about a weakness you have.

Everyone dreads this question, but keep in mind, companies often ask about a candidate’s weaknesses to evaluate how you perceive them (in a positive or negative way) and how you’ve addressed the weaknesses in real-life situations. Overall, to assess your self-awareness and sense of humility.


Why should we hire you?

Avoid the obvious answer: Because you’re the best person for the job. Reiterate the skills, experience, and/or academic qualifications you have and how you will add value to the company. Emphasize your interest in the industry and, based on your research, your interest in the position for which you are applying.


Bonus round.

If you are asked a question during an interview that gives you pause, do exactly that. Pause. Don’t look away, put your “thinking face” on, don’t “um” or “er,” and breathe. If the question is unclear, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer for clarification (which also buys you some thinking time) and answer as best as you can. Most recruiters say that it’s perfectly fine to swing and miss a question during an interview, and it’s also better to say “I don’t know” than to babble a few sentences to sound like you know what you’re talking about.


Your ability to prepare for and respond to tough interview questions greatly influences a hiring organization’s decision to continue to pursue your candidacy. Careful preparation before the interview and active listening during the interview will eliminate the possibility of becoming tongue-tied and position you for success!

Last Updated: June 19, 2017
About the author

    Alexandra Hoeflicker

    Alex is a Tucson-raised, Austin-based brunch aficionado. She enjoys a solid cup of coffee and browsing used record stores.