How to Handle Tricky Job Interview Questions…
If an interviewer really wants to put you through your paces, they might ask you some of the following typically tricky questions. Forewarned is forearmed, so make sure you do your homework before getting to the interview and being faced with these:
"Tell us more about yourself"
If asked, don't swamp the interviewer with reams of information and intricate personal details that can quickly become irrelevant. Condense your response so it lasts about one to two minutes and is based on your education, work and most recent job, placing particular emphasis on the latter and if appropriate, a little about you outside of work. This type of question is usually an ice-breaker, so don't get too carried away with your answer but don’t be afraid to let your personality shine.
"Why should we employ you?"
This question requires you to really know about the job you're applying for to enable you to match your skills, qualifications and experience to the right criteria. Essentially, you need to sell yourself and explain why you are the most qualified candidate. Before the interview, make sure you have read the job description in real detail and try to prepare an answer for this question based on your past work history, demonstrating how perfectly you fit the requirements. Do not underestimate the appeal of fitting in with the work culture- do your research on the company, find out if they have employee bios on their website, read them and sense the tone- it should give you a decent insight into the working environment.
"Please explain the gap(s) in your CV/career"
Whilst it's not uncommon for people to have career breaks, prospective employers are usually asking this question to ensure there are no nasty surprises (such as a dismissal for gross misconduct or gulp, criminal activity) that explain a gap in your CV.
Honesty is the best policy so always answer truthfully but make sure to highlight the constructive things you did while you were having a career break, e.g. volunteering or freelancing. This will give the interviewers peace of mind that you're a productive person with an entrepreneurial spirit and nothing negative in the background. This is your opportunity to demonstrate to a potential employer your career intentions and ambitions for the future. If you have had multiple roles with different employers in the past, make sure you explain this has brought you diverse and varied experience which you intend to use moving forward.
"What is your biggest weakness?"
This is certainly a clichéd question but for the most part don't fall into the trap of going over all your bad habits or worst personality traits, instead use one aspect of your personality that some could see as negative and turn it around into a positive. For example, an 'obsessive' personality trait can be that you're overbearing in the wrong situation, but stress the fact that it helps give you a strong eye for detail. By talking about sometimes being frustrated when others lack your passion for projects, you can portray this as a challenge but also hopefully a positive quality.
"Are you a risk taker? If so, what's the biggest risk you have ever taken?"
This question could be looking for an answer that shows you're willing to take risks and recover from the consequences, especially if the job requires a hard skin and tenacity. If you can, give examples of risks you've taken in a career context, showing your ability to take independent decisions and subsequently succeed. On the other hand, beware of this question if the job you are interviewing for involves avoiding risks e.g. safety-related jobs such as driving, machine operation and health and safety roles!
Again, this is a great opportunity to let your personality show- if you love extreme sports here is the chance to tell an employer. In a competitive job market, you need to do whatever you can to be remembered by potential employers!
How can you be prepared for tricky interview questions?
- Do your research on the company and the job and you will feel confident answering questions about both
- Take a deep breath before you answer- it gives your brain an extra second or two to think of the most appropriate response
- Prepare for the most obvious questions you will be asked then you won’t panic on the day!
Happy job hunting!
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