How to Handle Tricky Interview Questions

The key to a good interview is being prepared for tricky questions

Tricky interview questions are part of every job interview. But they needn't cause you too many problems if you are prepared. Here are some of the common questions that are often asked at an interview:

Tell Me About Yourself

This is one of the toughest questions for a lot of people. For the most part, the interviewer wants to know a little bit about your career so far and what you aim to achieve, but they also want to know a little bit about what you are like as a person and what other interests you have outside of work. Before you attend an interview, write down approximately ten bullet points that would fall in to this category, then turn that list in to a short description you can easily remember and recite when asked the question. You may need to practice to make your answer sound natural. Remember, preparation is the key to a good interview.

What Are Your Strengths?

It is a good idea to skip the standard cliché answers such as: "I'm a fast learner" or "I am really passionate about what I do", and focus on specific tasks you are genuinely strong in. It helps if you can embellish the points you raise with examples and try to explain why you are good at something and what your unique approach is. This will help to distinguish you from most of the other applicants and will show you have give careful consideration to your answers.

What Are Your Weaknesses?

There are so many wrong answers to this question. Try to avoid the obvious pitfalls such as: "I find it hard to get out of bed in the morning" or "I drink too much at weekends". Also avoid answers that make it sound like you are sucking up to the interviewer, such as: "I work too hard" or "I spend too much time working after hours". The best answers to give are genuine answers, so find an area you are not so strong in and explain how you are working to improve in that areas and highlight any training or self-study you are undertaking. This will show you are keen to improve and will make a good impression.

Do You Have Any Questions About Our Company?

The answer should always be yes. Ask about the company structure, how the company plans to grow, the opportunities for promotion, or what training is provided etc. It is important to show that you are genuinely interested in the company you might be working for.

Where do you expect your career to be in 10 years?

The best way of answering this question is look ahead to possible promotions within the company and explain how you would like to progress from the position you are applying for. State that you would also like to have been trained in relevant disciplines or the undertaken learning required to get you there.

Why did you leave your last job?

If you are currently unemployed, this question will arise. At all costs, avoid the temptation to speak badly of your former employers. The best approach to take with this question is show that you have left to work on progressing with your career and that you take your career seriously and are dedicated to working hard, learning the skills required, and are prepared to make tough decisions to help you progress. If it is true, you could highlight the lack of upward mobility offered by your last employer. If you were fired, it is usually better to tell the truth and explain what you have learned from the experience.

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