Job interviews can be very daunting and anxiety triggering, especially if you’re new to them or haven’t experienced one in a while.

The obvious advice that everyone will give you is to make sure that you’re prepared, whether that be scouring the company’s website and making notes or stalking your potential new boss on LinkedIn.

However, sometimes this won’t help you when you get side-swiped by a horrible question that you have no immediate response for.

This article is here to help and will go through 10 common tricky questions and how you should answer them.

1. What are your weaknesses?

As easy as it is to discuss your strengths in an interview it is the complete opposite when talking about your weaknesses. This question will crop up in nearly every interview you do and is a very hard one to answer as you want to be honest without ruining your chances of getting the role.

The best way to prepare for this question is by writing down a couple of weaknesses in your notes but also thinking about how you’ve been working to turn these into strengths.

Have you been undertaking CPD hours or watching videos to improve these weaknesses? If yes, make sure you mention this in the interview as the employer will want to know how you are working on your skill set.

2. Why do you want to work here?

Employers often use this question to find out who’s done their research and who hasn’t. It is important to really understand the business to answer this successfully.

Before the interview, you should ask yourself: have you read their vision, mission and value statements? Can you name their clients? Have they appeared in the news lately due to expansion, community projects etc?

Having any of the above in your back pocket and being able to say why this was important to swaying you into applying for the job whilst also understanding their core business activities could boost your odds of getting the role.

3. Why are you leaving your current role?

It is very important not to speak too negatively of your former employer when asked this question. However, you should be honest and open about what they weren’t providing you that led you to apply for the opening.

This will give you and the interviewer more insight into whether what you are looking for matches what they are looking for.

4. Tell me a bit about yourself?

This is normally the first question you will be asked in an interview and can leave your mind going blank due to the openness of the question.

Don’t panic! To answer this simply give a little background about yourself and how you ended up where you are now.

This could include things such as:

  • Where you’re originally from
  • Why you became interested in the line of work
  • Any qualifications you have

5. Why should we hire you?

You will be asked this to find out how the skills that you have make you different from other candidates and is vital to you being successful.

Before answering this, make sure that you have read the job description and highlighted how the skills you have developed apply to the different tasks within the job role. This will show that you’ve thoroughly researched the role and show added interest over other candidates.

6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This question crops up a lot and is essentially asked to make sure that your future goals align with the company that you are interviewing for.

You should prepare for this by thinking about your short- and long-term goals. If you don’t see yourself wanting to grow in the position or company you are applying for, don’t mention it in the interview as they will want candidates who are committed to the business.

If you do see yourself growing in the company and role, make sure you communicate this in the interview as it shows that you will be dedicated and work hard to want to achieve the goals you have set.

7. Describe a time you have worked with a difficult person

This is a competency-based question and is used to find out how you deal with conflict. You should prepare for this answer carefully. Don’t say that you’ve never dealt with difficult people, as this could appear dishonest.

You should pick a scenario where you come across as the bigger person and describe how you managed the situation.

You could also use the STAR technique (situation, task, action, result) to shape your answer to this as this will show that you have prepared.

8. What motivates you?

This is a hard question to answer due to it being very broad. Make sure that you tailor your answer to the job role you are applying for and don’t just give a broad answer such as money.

For example, if the job description lists certain things that you have never done before, you could give an answer such as learning new skills or, if you want to go down the culture route, you could say working well in a team.

It’s important to remember that interviews are based on how you come across as a person as well as the skills you possess so make sure your motivations make you out in a positive light.

9. How would your former employer describe you?

Here you should think about the positive attributes that your former employer might highlight. You might want to think back to a performance review and write down the positive things that they said about you.

You could also be very specific here and give an example of something that you did well at work and the positive feedback you received from your employer.

10. What are you like working under pressure?

This is another tricky competency-based question, and you should give an example when answering this question. Employers will want to see that you can deal with the unexpected and make the right decisions whilst also staying calm.

Again, you could use the STAR (situation, task, action, result) framework to shape your answer to this. You should be honest, and you could even mention a time that you have made a mistake and how you worked to correct it to get the best possible result as this shows you stayed calm rather than panicking.

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