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How to answer those tricky interview questions

May 20, 2019

We all get anxious over interviews, reasons for this are often shared but always personal, but one way to help overcome nerves and fears is to prepare.  We can usually second guess typical questions, and some tend to be tricker than others.  So let's take advantage of this and turn our pain into power.  Below you'll find some tips on how to tackle those hard to answer questions.

Tell me about yourself.

Answer this in 5 minutes. Think of it as your elevator pitch.  What are your strengths, how do you meet their requirements? Why should they consider picking you? Do you have shared values? Do you love what they do?  Speak passionately and from the heart. This isn't your life story, this is your introduction; you can expand on topics with more detail throughout the interview.

 

What is Your Greatest Weakness?

Know who you are and be honest.  Do not give them a weakness that’s a strength, that is not good advice and is vomit-inducing and predictable. Tell them a genuine weakness that you have taken ownership of and it's OK if you are still working on improving it – just make sure it doesn’t impact on the role.  Plan this question in advance.

 

Here's an example:

 

"I have always struggled saying no.  It's because I am a naturally helpful person although sometimes I help when I don't really have the time.  I discussed this with my manager and they suggested I attend a course to help me in this area, which I did and it was fantastic.  I have learnt that it is OK to say no and the benefits that come with it for both parties.  It gave me some really useful techniques that ensures people know that I am not being unhelpful, but genuinely don't have the time. I still struggle, but I am getting so much better, in fact last week, my colleague asked if I could help them proof read some work, but due to my own work deadlines, I had to say no.  I found out they were able to ask someone else and made me realise that others can help to."

 

Why do you want to work here?

This shows them you have spent time researching who they are and what they do.  Know them inside out.  Who are their customers, what have they achieved, what are their values?  What is it that excites you about working there? Why do you want to be a part of their team?  Conclude by letting them know you are a great match and that you look forward to showing them this throughout the interview

 

How would your friends describe you?

They want to know what are your values, strengths and behaviours. Ask colleagues and friends you trust enough to give you honest feedback before you go to interview. Ask them to describe you in 3 words.  Ask a variety of people. Make sure that you match the requirements of the recruiter.

 

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? What is your greatest achievement? 

Very similar questions – your achievement might be the challenge. Be genuine, be honest, use an example that shows how you match their skills, or shows your resilience or determination.  Draw on any experience, it might be:

  • work-related such as getting great customer feedback, exceeding targets, successful projects or an award 

  • completing a fun run after not exercising forever,

  • returning to work after maternity leave

  • raising money for charity

Whatever it is, tell them why it was a challenge to you and give a detailed and honest answer.  Try and keep it recent, tell them what YOU did to overcome the challenge, or why your achievement is significant to you.

 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Put emphasis is on growing with the company (this shows you have done your research and you know the paths within the organisation) and taking on new challenges, not on a specific title or job description to show you are flexible.  Think about where this position could realistically take you, and think about how that aligns with some of your broader professional goals.

 

Curveball questions

There is no right are wrong answer.  These question types are designed to see how you manage under pressure, or to see your problem-solving skills/ your logical thinking.  So, next time someone asks you who would win in a fight: Batman or Wonder Woman, take a breath, smile, think through your response, tell them your answer and explain your reasoning.

So there we have it.  I hope they help you.  Just remember that interviews are just a conversation and an opportunity to talk about you.  Know your value and be confident in your abilities and you'll smash it.  

 

 

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