You’ve done all of your research, you’re wearing your best outfit and are radiating confidence for your job interview later on today. From the opening handshake, you feel like you’re in control and think that this is going to be a piece of cake. That is until the interviewer asks one question which is rather awkward and super tricky to answer. What do you do now? How do you answer without making yourself look bad? Can all of your hard work so far be completely shattered by one bad answer?
Unfortunately, yes. It can. Interviewers like to ask such questions to throw you off balance and see how you would handle it. These questions could seem very insignificant and harmless until it’s too late and you have headed down a bad path with your answer.
So how does one answer such questions and still present themselves in a positive light while sidestepping those little traps? Not too worry though! We have you covered. Here are four common & tricky interview questions and our advice on how to handle them.
1. How would you describe yourself / Tell me more about yourself?
A chance to talk about yourself? Awesome! Actually, wait a second. Could this possibly be a trap? Congratulations, it is a trap!
Unfortunately, as much as we want it to be, this is not an invitation to brag all of your amazing professional successes etc. In the process of trying too hard to make yourself look good, you might just end up looking arrogant, and nobody likes that.
At this stage, the interviewer is neither interested in how cute your pets are or how good your grandmother’s cooking is. Stick to answers geared towards your professional life, but in a realistic and positive way.
Do try and avoid clichés such as, “I’m a people person” or “I’m a team player.” They have been used and overused so many times that they have lost their meaning.
When crafting your answer, what is important to remember is to keep the focus on the position and the company. What are the trends they are following at the moment and how would you help them? What do they put emphasis on? Try to connect the things that you care about and do well with the values of the particular company and position you want. Make the interviewer see you as a perfectly suitable candidate for the job. They say, “Tell me more about yourself,” but what they most probably want to hear is “What makes you a great fit for this job?”
2. What’s your biggest weakness?
This one is a popular one. The question about your strengths is great as that is when you have the green light to go ahead and brag a little. You go on to tell them how you would be a Rockstar in their company. Then you realise what question comes next and a little bead of sweat starts to form on your forehead.
Struggling with punctuality or you not really the team player your CV portrays you to be? Truth be told, never actually bring those up (work on bettering those things). Don’t highlight any flaws that could take you out of the running for the job.
When answering this type of question, what is good to keep in mind is to mention things you want to do instead of things you do poorly. There must be some particular skills you’d like to improve upon, mention that. Present yourself as fully qualified for this job, but think about the things you would like to take to the next level and present them as your weaknesses while showing you are eager and have the desire to learn and improve.
3. How have you handled a difficult situation?
Chances are you’ve probably faced some awkward, difficult, and maybe even dangerous situations on the job. How you handle them says a lot about you not only as an employee but as a person in general.
The key to acing this tricky interview question is making sure you talk about a situation which wasn’t your fault. If you do otherwise, obviously it would not look good so save yourself the embarrassment. The aim of this question is for the interviewer to see how you handle & overcome difficulties and see if you can think outside the box while keeping the company’s big picture in mind.
The best way to answer this is to try and think of a time when outside forces like weather or clients created a frustrating situation. You would then describe how you stepped in and explain the solution you were able to provide. This is the time to show them your excellent problem-solving skills.
4. Why would you like this job? / Why do you want to work here?
There are so many different reasons that drive people to apply for the jobs they are applying; better commute, upward career move, attracted to the salary, benefits or even the company’s public image. All of these are valid reasons for wanting that new job. However, with your answer to this question, you will end up prioritising some of these things. Obviously, it would be preferred if you could avoid making it seem that you’re in just for the money or the prestige and most certainly don’t mention if you hate your current job. Try to put yourself on the other side of the desk; if you were the interviewer, what would you want the candidate to tell you?
When answering, it is best to put the focus on the company. You did your homework, right? Talk about some of the great things that the company has done or achieved. Then, go into the specific position and what excites you about it. This would be a good time to discuss what you would bring to the company and how that would help them move forward. In reality what they are actually asking you with this is why should we hire you? Give them some good reasons.
Tricky interview questions could be a part of any job interview for any kind of position. If you want to come across as intelligent and well-prepared, do some research on common job interview questions and have some answers ready at the top of your head. If you were to get a surprise question, stay calm and remember to keep the focus on the positive. If each of your answers helps portray how well you fit the particular job, the interviewer will see it too.
If you’ve got any tricky interview questions you struggle with answering, let us know in a comment or an email and we can help you out!