Darn those Tough Interview Questions!

by Roselle Pendergast, Head Editor, INALJ Minnesota

Darn those Tough Interview Questions!

Roselle.PendergastWe’ve all had those questions asking us to describe a certain situation or experience and how we handled it.  Time and again, we’ve either sailed through it or froze up and stammered out our answer.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing a ton of sites online discussing this very topic.  Such as this article titled How to Tackle Three of the Toughest Interview Questions from Lifehacker or this article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune by Matt Krumrie titled Ask Matt: How should I answer these interview questions?  Krumrie suggests to use the STAR method: Situation (describe a real-life situation from a past college, work, volunteer or extracurricular activity where you applied the skill in question); Task (describe your task or goal in creating a response to the situation identified); Action (review in detail the action you took, applying the skill in question to address the situation); Result (report the result of your action, providing as much measurable detail as possible).

First, we must ask ourselves, what’s the purpose behind these tough questions?  Lifehacker, again, found a wonderful (huge) image that discusses the reasoning behind the most common interview questions, The Logic Behind 19 Common Interview Questions.  In my opinion, understanding the reasoning behind the interview questions helps us know why the question is being asked and what we can do to answer it appropriately.

After being bombarded by those questions, we often get asked one last question, “Do you have any questions for us?”  Usually I’m so wound up that I burst out with a standard answer, “No, I’m good!”  Lifehacker has a way around that!  The Interview Question That’s Always Asked (and How to Nail It) explains the reason behind the question and gives a nice list of questions you can ask the interviewer.  I always end up having questions later after the interview because it didn’t occur to me to ask them during the interview.  A good way to counteract that is two things, write your questions down before going in for the interview and ask for a business card to contact the interviewer if you have any more questions afterwards.

The main thing we can do when preparing to enter a job interview is to ask ourselves those tough questions and prepare our answers so we’re not caught off guard by unexpected questions.  Plus, the preparation gives us a chance to make our answers as detailed as possible while being clear and precise.  It gives us a better chance of obtaining either the position or another interview later down the road.

Preparation, preparation and more preparation!  It does go a long way.


Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 


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