Tough interview questions and how to answer them

You’re going to make a success of that interview. That’s because you’ve practiced every imaginable question they could throw at you – including the curly ones. To prepare, practice answers to these five tough interview questions:

  1. If your colleagues were here how would they describe you? Employers want to know about your interpersonal skills. Are you a people person? Make sure you include both your communication skills and also other strengths and above all sound sure. You could say: “colleagues tell me that I’m a great listener and good team builder. They would also say that I’m a tireless worker, I plan well and am flexible and tolerant.” Remember to be professional. Your new employer really doesn’t need to know that you’ve downed a yard glass with colleagues or danced on the tables.
  2. Your CV contains several gaps. Can you explain why? Are there gaps in your CV? If so, you need to consider before the interview how you are going to explain them. It’s best to tell the truth – but add a positive spin if you can.  If, for example, you took a year out to travel the world, then tell your employer that. Present it in a positive light. “I needed to get the wanderlust urge out of my blood and my experiences gave me perspective on my career. Now I’m ready to knuckle down and put my heart and soul into this job.” If you were made redundant, explain that it was a last in first out policy and you weren’t singled out or that your entire department was closed. While discussing your gaps try to avoid the words “unemployed” or “ill”. It’s better to say that you were a full-time parent, studying, or looking after a relative during the gap in your employment. Did you do an online course in that time? Or were you consulting or running your own business – however small - in that time?
  3. What are the key trends in this industry? Job hunters who do their homework are more likely to land the role. It’s easy to answer this question – by reading up in advance about the organisation. You’ll earn Brownie points if you know what the trends and the challenges in the industry are. You can find this out by Googling the organisation, reading newspaper articles, and digesting the annual report.
  4. What do you think the greatest challenges of this job you’re applying for are? This is one of those questions where you draw the interviewer off the scent and highlight some of your best qualities. For example, you could say: “the biggest challenge will be getting to know the members of the team. I’m used to working with a large and diverse team and thrive on finding the best in my colleagues.” Or: “the biggest challenge in this job is keeping pace with technological change in this industry. This is also the most rewarding aspect of this industry for me.”
  5. What’s your real weakness? You’ve just given a veiled strength when asked what your weaknesses are. But your interviewer calls your bluff and says: “but what are your real weaknesses”. Be prepared with a weakness that you have a workaround for. “My weakness is that I’m new in this field and have a lot to learn. I’m dealing with this by signing up for the industry exams and I have found myself a mentor.”

Got those sorted? Now click here for five even tougher interview questions. 

You've just given a veiled strength when asked what your weaknesses are. But your interviewer calls your bluff and says: “but what are your real weaknesses”.