There are many interview questions that can be confusing if you take them too literally.

Here are a few examples:

  • What is your most recent example of conflict resolution?
  • What was the biggest problem you faced, and how did you solve it?
  • What’s your greatest weakness?

The key to answering these interview questions is understanding why the interviewer is asking the question and what they’re really looking for.  Focusing on the superlatives (most recent, biggest, greatest) will make these questions quite difficult to answer.  If you’re unsure of what the interviewer wants to know, ask them to rephrase the question, or ask for clarification.

Does the interviewer actually want to know your MOST RECENT example of resolving conflict? Or the BIGGEST problem you faced? Or your GREATEST weakness?  Not likely.

It is far more likely that the interviewer simply wants you to provide an example to illustrate HOW you handle conflict resolution, or HOW you approach a big problem.  Or, for the third question, the interviewer wants to know if you’re aware of the gap between your experience and the job requirements.

Before diving into your answer, take a moment to think about what the interviewer REALLY wants to know. Try not to get thrown off by the phrasing of the question.

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