Tackling Tough Interview Questions

The interview process for some can be very daunting, but your ability to answer tough questions may set you apart from other talent. 

You never quite know which questions and interviewer may decide to ask. We have the usual questions about your education and background, but to understand the candidate and their career motives further, the interviewer may pose some questions to get you to justify the reason in which you are applying for that position. 

Candidates may find the questions tricky to answer; but it’s not just about answering the questions – it’s about understanding them. In order for you to feel more comfortable with answering questions, here are a few things to think about: 

Remember why you are applying for the position 

During a time where the competition is high and opportunities are becoming limited, only candidates who stand out will be considered. If you’ve been made redundant then you will be eager to get back into work, so that will be self-explanatory. If you feel as if you’ve reached the end of your current role, you’ll have to explain why your previous role didn’t match your ambitions and why the role you’re applying for now will. 

If you are asked why you’re applying for that position, be sure to mention: 

  • Your current situation 
  • Your reason for wanting a new challenge/role 
  • Why that position and company appeals to your ambitions 
  • What you learnt previously and how you will apply those skills 

This will show the interviewer you have given thought over your career; enhancing your chances of being considered. 

Prepare Your Answers

This goes back to our earlier point on not being able to know for sure which questions will come your way, but you can still prepare some answers. They’ll definitely ask you to explain the reasons why you’re applying for the position, which sections of the job description appeals to you most and they’ll also ask about any skills or achievements attained from previous positions. 

If you’re looking for specific answers to such questions, you could say: “due to the size of the company they couldn’t offer required support” or, “there was no room for progression in my position” 

This will outline clearly what you’re looking for going forward. 

Understand the role 

Challenges in answering questions can often come from not understanding them or why they’re being asked. Your interviewer must understand your reasons for wanting change, how your next role can help and plans for your career. If the role you are applying for is similar to your previous role then you’ll have to be specific of the reasons you’re looking for a change. If you’re reasons for leaving were that there wasn’t much training or support, your potential new role may be similar, so your employer may worry you won’t enjoy that role either. 

Look through the job description and identify the tasks you will be working on a daily basis; as well as any projects you will be involved in. If you’re applying for a senior position then see whether you’ll be involved in training for colleagues. 

You may be asked where you see yourself a few years away. It’s ok to not have an exact idea, but if you plan on being at senior level, eg. Marketing Director, you must have the experience to back it up or your potential employer may feel that is not a realistic target, which would lead to not being the right fit. 

Salary can be a key factor to whether a candidate decides to pursue a position. This is a valid reason, however, demands must be realistic. It is a good idea to do some research and analyse previous positions to see if your skills and experience match the requirements you are asking for. 

Defining your characteristics 

During the interview, your interviewer will try and find out as much as possible about your skills and background as possible, but they’ll also want to find out about the person they could be hiring.

Here are some of the questions to look out for during an interview: 

Tell us about yourself 

This is one of the usual questions you’ll be posed with to kick-off the interview. The interviewer will expect a brief overview of your career so far, perhaps your education and what your current working situation is at that point. Take your CV and pick out career or education highlights – try to avoid the mistake of rambling! 

What did you dislike about your last job?

Candidates can often make the mistake of going into detail about what they didn’t like about their last employer, whilst not mentioning their work. Avoid being negative, it will paint a negative picture of you. Speak about frustrations in your last job and how the current position could fix that. For example: “I enjoyed the team collaboration in my last job, however, there wasn’t much investment in training current employees”. 

What are your weaknesses?

This question can be difficult to answer and it almost always comes up! Try to avoid responses such as: often being late or being aggressive. With your answers, try and avoid the response of: “I’m a perfectionist”. Try and stand out. Perhaps use a negative and turn it into a positive. 

For example: “I’m not the best at receiving criticism, but I always learn from my mistakes and hope to avoid them in the future”. 

Why should we hire you? 

This question is the chance for you to sell yourself to your potential employer and stand out from other candidates. Be sure to highlight your skills, but also talk about your personal qualities. It could be good to let your employer know what your interests are away from the office. Sell yourself and make sure your employer finds it difficult turning you down. 

By understanding your motivations for pursuing a new role, you’ll be able to answer these questions comfortably and find a role that suits you.