Some of the hardest questions you’ll have to answer in interviews are also the most common ones. Understanding how to tackle them without hesitation will put you leagues ahead of every other applicant.
To help prepare you, here are some of the most difficult interview questions that you’ll come across, and the best ways to approach them.
Tell me about yourself
Not strictly a question, but tricky to answer nonetheless. Usually, an applicant will hear this and begin rambling about their personality or non-relevant hobbies and interests - this is to be avoided at all costs. Instead, try wording your response as a slightly more detailed version of your CV - elaborating a bit more on your early life, education, work history and recent relevant work experience. Don’t get carried away though, keep your response to about one or two minutes in length. This is usually an opening question, so you’ll have the chance to provide more detail as the interview progresses.
What are your weaknesses?
The best way to tackle this one is to always give a positive side to your weakness. Being self-deprecating in an interview situation may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s valuable information for the interviewer to understand how you deal with your own shortcomings. Explain what you struggle with and then go on to detail the steps you’re taking to overcome your weakness. This suggests that you have an ability to improve and grow within the company you’re applying for.
What was wrong with your last employer?
The interviewer wants to know why you’re leaving behind a perfectly good job to come and join their company. Your answer will help them to understand what you expect from the job role and, whether or not that’s something their company could provide.
No matter what, do not use this as an excuse to bad-mouth your old job. Diplomacy is essential – nothing is less attractive to an employer than someone who shifts blame onto others and is very negative. Instead, express a desire to move on, evolve and take up bigger challenges. Spin your response to reflect the positive aspects of the job you’re applying for, and how it will help you develop your career.
Have you ever had to work with a difficult person?
The response you give to this says a lot about what kind of person you are to work with.
Similarly to the question about your weaknesses, this tests your ability to overcome adversity, so once you’ve recalled a specific time; you should elaborate on how you dealt with it. Say what you learnt from the experience, and how it has improved your interpersonal skills. You will be expected to work alongside different people within your role, so it’s important that you can demonstrate how well you work as part of a team with different people.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
This is a very popular question among interviewers as it tests your research abilities and your general knowledge of the career path you’ve chosen. They won’t want to hear about how much you love the company and want to work there forever, but neither do they want to hear something completely unrelated to the job itself.
Make sure your response incorporates your own skills and experience with your career aspirations, and relate this to what the company does and how you could thrive within it. This will make you look enthusiastic and well-versed in your chosen industry.
Why should I hire you?
This is an invitation for you to pitch yourself as the absolute best choice for the role – so it is crucial that you rehearse what you’re going to say. Often, this question catches people out because they don’t read the job description carefully enough and fail to go into any relevant detail about why they are the best person to choose for the job.
Make sure that you carry out research on the position – nail down the responsibilities and link them to your own expertise and past experiences to prove you are the best candidate, as opposed to just vaguely passionate.
Being confident, honest and doing a bit of research will take you far in any interview. There’s no reason you couldn’t answer these questions as long as you do your homework on the business and know exactly why you’re the best possible candidate for the job.