- 17th September 2014
The 5 toughest interview questions and how to answer them
When it comes to a job interview there’s no such thing as being over-prepared.
However, interviews are unfortunately one of those things that you just can’t predict. It’s impossible to know exactly what questions will be asked, and what sort of interview style the hiring manager will prefer.
To help minimise the stress of unexpected questions, here are some of the toughest interview questions that repeatedly trip up job candidates:
What is your biggest weakness / what skills are you lacking?
How you explain your biggest weakness is one of the most telling interview questions of all. Everyone has a weakness so don’t answer this question thinking you can convince the interviewer you have none. However, you should never draw negative attention to yourself by choosing a weakness that could lead an employer to believe you’re not right for the job. An honest but positive answer works well. Try something like “I find it hard to say no and sometimes take on to much” – finish this with a positive example of how you are improving on this weakness to better yourself, you want the focus of the interview to be on your strengths.
Why did you leave your previous employer, or why are you leaving your present job?
Avoid negativity with this question. Don’t moan about past employers, it doesn’t make you look good. Instead, talk about the frustration of your previous role that this job could fix. A good answer would be “I have enjoyed my time at my current job and I have learnt a lot that I can take to a new position, however, there was no opportunity for progression or promotion and I feel I am more than ready to take the next step with my career”. It is important to turn negative situations positive!
Tell me about yourself
Not a question, but a common phrase in interviews. Interviewers don’t want to know every detail of your life, keep your answer to a minute or two at most. Tailor your answer to cover relevant aspects of your life, such as education, work history and recent career experience. Your favourite TV show and where you’re going on your next holiday is not what they’re looking for, but mentioning hobbies can help portray your personality.
Where do you hope to be in 3 to 5 years’ time?
Whatever you do, do not answer this question with “I’m not sure”, even though it’s quite likely that’s the truth. You want your answer to show your determination and ambition in a way that is realistic to the company you are interviewing for. An answer similar to “I’d like to be in a position of responsibility doing a job that challenges and excites me’, is sure to impress – but don’t forget to tailor it to the job you’re being interviewed for.
Do you have any questions? Anything else you would like to add?
Do your homework for this question, research the company beforehand and see if there is anything you need clarification on. Maybe you want to know what the progression in the role is like or even a bit about the other staff there. Show a genuine interest in the company and they’re sure to be impressed.