3 of the trickiest interview questions

3 of the trickiest interview questions… and how to answer them

Every interview is different, so we won’t waste anyone’s time and we’ll just get to it! You’ve already written an impressive CV and get yourself an interview, If you need help with your CV check out this blog too. Although they’re all different we can almost guarantee that these 3 questions will be asked in every interview. If you hate them as much as most, then your palms are probably already sweating at the thought of having to answer them! Well don’t fret, we’re here to help out with some basics of how to answer those terrifying questions…

Interview question: "So, tell me about yourself?"

Woah! We’re diving straight in there… this one is particularly awful – it’s so open ended. What do we want you to say, and what do we really want to know?

Be professional and optimistic

Remember this is your chance to make a first impression so you need to make it count. Dress appropriately and professionally. Unless it’s a telephone interview – just wear what makes you feel most comfortable for those! Remember your basic manners; yes please, no thank you and remember to smile!

Believe it or not, we do loads of interviews. We are human too, so just be honest and natural in your approach. We also know that everybody has down-days, but these don’t come across well during an interview, fake it until you make it. As we said smiling can be key. Did you know recruiters are superhuman? Even if it is a telephone interview, we can hear in your voice whether you’re smiling or not. If you don’t want to do the interview and you don’t want the job – let us know in advance! 

Don’t be… um… hesitant or… uhh… unconfident 

One of the quickest and sure-fire ways to make people question you and your abilities is to not be confident. Know if you are good at something or not. Have you taken the time to think about if you really want this job. More importantly why? Because you want to put food on the table. That might be the truth but if you’re going to spend approximately 2,080 hours there a year, you should probably do something that you enjoy.

We’re writing this blog to help you prepare for these sorts of questions. We don’t want you ‘umm-ing’ your way through your next interview. Take a minute to make a note of all the shit that you do really well and own it. Be confident and before you start trying to tell your interviewers that your good at something… you better believe it first! Filler words are a pet peeve for, like, so many people. You know the ones we mean, like, the ones you notice your colleagues or friends say all the time. They can get on your nerves? It’s likely you still have them yourself. You might even already know them. We suggest asking the people closest to you what your words are so you can be more conscious of them.

Highlight your ambitions and defining moments 

It’s your time to shine, try to avoid getting too cocky though. Especially if it’s an area that you excel in. We mean start by explaining where you are in your career or educational journey and where you want to be in a year and in 5 years’ time. We’d recommend you avoid telling your potential manager that you want to take their job. Also, stay away from telling the managing director that you want to be running the company. Confidence is the key here, not arrogance.

Every day is a school day, even as an adult. You want to learn from this role, as much as you want to be able to teach what you already know! Take pride in your career highlights. Did you beat the competition and win an award? Have you managed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? Briefly tell your interviewer how you achieved such an opportunity and if you have any feedback be sure to pass it on. Always highlight the positive stuff, we’re being optimistic remember? Think of the feedback you receive through your life as somebody reviewing you on TripAdvisor. Those 5-star ratings can really help boost you in these interviews!

Don’t go into too much detail 

It’s so easy to panic when you’re asked this question in an interview. Your interviewer is not pressuring you for every detail of your life, we promise. We really just want to know if your ambitions align with those expected of the job, and get a feel for you and your work ethics. We might be gauging whether you’re going to be a good fit for the team and how we can help you grow even further based on your experiences.

Even if you aren’t completely qualified for the job, we are probably finding what level of help you’re going to need while we get you up to scratch. As we said keep your personal details out of this answer. Once you get the job there will be plenty of time to introduce yourself to your colleagues and share information. Just keep it professional and relevant to you and your career.

Interview question: "Why do you think you’d be right for this position?"

After that last one, this one feels like a bit of a breeze. More often than not we have a genuine reason for applying to a particular role and hoping that this will be ‘the job’ that holds the secret to our internal happiness. However, as recruiters we regularly hear people stumble over their words too often when they get asked this. If you’ve applied because you really do want this job in particular then it shouldn’t feel as though we’ve asked you to explain the wetness of rain.  

Do your research 

This feels obvious, right? Not always. Some people don’t even know what interview they’ve turned up to. You might have spent a week reminding yourself that you have an interview with The Outsourced Recruitment Company. It’s at 11:30 am on Thursday for a job at Company X. But, as soon as we ask you about Company X and what they do or how their values align with yours… you suddenly realise you have no idea about them! We want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you, so how do we avoid it? We do our research.  

Interviewers can use this question to tell us a lot about whether you’re going to fit in their team perfectly. How proactive were you? How autonomous can you be? So, now you’ve nailed that bit do you remember the job description? Revert to why you applied – what skills do you have that they were asking for? Think back to when you sent in your application. What stuck out and made you go “Damn, I’m perfect for this role – I better apply!”. If you don’t take the time to read the job description or do your research – you really don’t want this job. 

Before we put too much pressure on you, we’re here to help you so we’ll point out that you need to keep some attention on your interviewer as well. This is a 2-way process. You might be ticking all of the boxes for them because you’ve read this blog and done your research. But, did you listen to the way they spoke to their own receptionist? or are the staff that you’ve seen since you arrived generally relaxed and happily working away? Did you interrupt a military operation and catch someone crying in the corridor? Make sure you get a feel for the culture and the people that work there already. Ask them questions and break down any corporate walls. You need to be sure this is really the company you want to invest your time into if you’re successful and given the opportunity.

Don’t be carefree 

There can be so many reasons that people leave their previous employment. You should be honest about why you want to join Company X specifically by using our earlier advice. If you are unfortunate enough to be searching due to poor management or underpayment – we suggest not mentioning it. You’re already doing what you can to change that by attending this interview!  Leave any rants about current or previous employers at the door. This is the start of a new journey for you. Bad-mouthing an employer can show a lack of respect, there are 2-sides to every story. In such a short space of time you can leave your interviewer with more ‘niggling’ questions than satisfaction. The key to this question is career growth and how you can help them, and they can help you, so keep any grudges at bay.

Interview question: "What are your biggest weaknesses?"

This is the question that send shivers down the spines of anybody who has ever attended a job interview. If you haven’t prepared your answers to this then you might as well just get up, say thank you and leave. All the possible answers to this are an absolute minefield. Whatever you say might not even mean what you think it means! Let’s clear this up… 

The best weaknesses 

Nobody’s perfect, we’ve already told you that interviewers are human too (recruiters are still superhuman though!). Nobody is asking this to get you to confess your deepest and darkest sins. We simply want to know if you can recognise your own flaws and acknowledge the areas that you may need extra support. The best answers are honest ones, do you push yourself too far before admitting you need help? Maybe you’re quick to criticise yourself and too quiet to constructively criticise others? Don’t push the honesty too far but even being a little disorganised is a good weakness… if you can demonstrate how you intend to improve it. 

The worst weaknesses 

There are some answers you should really avoid if you can. When you say “I’m a perfectionist” you could be saying that you don’t know your flaws, or you don’t believe you have any. Either way maybe try to reword this as “I’m detail orientated” and say it as a strength instead. Try to stay away from anything that indicates arrogance and suggests you’re just generally not a nice person. The most important thing to remember with this question is the job description. Don’t say your biggest weakness is technology if you’re applying for a role such as an IT Technician, avoid attention-to-detail as a weakness for a data analyst.

Well, that’s all for now. We hope that this gives you all the help that you need to be able to hold your head high as you confidently. Not arrogantly. waltz into your next job interview and speak your truth without the umm-ing and the stumbling. Remember to do your research and just be true to yourself. You might be right for them, but they might be wrong for you. I guess all we can say now is just use your common sense, read the room and share this blog with your friends so they can smash their next interview too – GOOD LUCK! 

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