Tough Interview Questions and Answers
So, you’ve made it through to interview and are getting on famously with the interviewer. All seems great and then they throw you the curve ball that is the really tough interview question. Your mouth goes dry, palms start to sweat and you fidget uncomfortably in your seat. This is where I fail, right? Wrong!
Why do interviewers ask really tough questions?
Remember that the interviewer is trying to appoint someone. They aren’t necessarily looking for more than one person so they can’t magic up a job so they have to find a way to differentiate between candidates, all of whom could probably do the job (or they wouldn’t be being interviewed). The person they appoint has to be someone, why not you? You deserve success every bit as much as the next person.
Interviews are a process that nobody really likes
There are (probably) a few people that really like carrying out interviews. The truth is that the interviewer is often as nervous as the interviewee. Try and relax, they are just as nervous as you are so in all probability.
Some interviewers are tougher than others. It helps a great deal to know some of the questions that you are likely to be asked. This article details some of the most difficult and some tips that will help you to answer them. Fail to plan and plan to fail- more than just a buzz phrase- really good advice to get you through that tricky interview.
Tell me a little bit about yourself. An old question but one designed to start to open you up. Find out if they want to know about your career or you as a person- try and keep control of the interview if possible. If you can’t bring yourself to ask for clarification, start talking about your recent achievements in a job role appropriate to the company that you are sitting in front of. Be prepared to answer this one- it’s almost certain that you’ll get asked this.
What particularly makes you interested about in this role? Talk about the challenges it presents, the way it will give you an opportunity to use skills from past job roles. Show what you can do for the company, focus on your past achievements and you won’t go far wrong with this potential banana skin.
Tell me about the company that you used to work for. Flashing lights here right now- they are looking to see if you will bad mouth them. No matter what happened at that company, you must come across as positively as possible. Any negativity on your part will be seized upon as they are looking for the real reason why you left them. They are also looking to see if you can be trusted. Watch out for this question, it could trip you up.
What sort of salary package are you expecting? Never answer this one directly- ask back what sort of salary that they were looking to pay. They are fishing, trying to see if they can get you at a cheap price. It isn’t a good idea to discuss salary at an interview but in this case, they started the debate. Stay positive, ignore the churning in your stomach- they are interested in you or they wouldn’t be asking.
Do you always have to tell the truth in business? What a great question- the answer is that of course you do. They are trying to see if you will lie. At times, you cannot tell everyone the full story- for example if the company is considering redundancies, however, you never have to lie. I would never work for anyone who forced me to lie, period.
What is your worst characteristic? Oh dear, a flashing red light- this is a trap. The answer is to focus on something non-incriminating- for example, I can be a bit of a perfectionist- I like to get things right and sometimes this can annoy people whose work is less than satisfactory.
Interview Answer Techniques
When someone asks you a difficult question, don’t panic! They know it’s difficult as well and will expect you to take your time answering. If it helps, ask a clarifying question back to give yourself some more time. Saying something like: “What exactly did you want to know about the company where I worked at last?” is a great way to buy time, give yourself time to think and put the ball back in the interviewer’s court.
In general, whoever asks the questions controls the conversation. Being assertive (not aggressive) in the interview situation is a great way to show your leadership and managerial qualities. It also shows you aren’t a pushover.
Answer the question that is asked!
Nothing infuriates interviewers more than someone evading or skirting around their question. Listen attentively to what is being asked and try and determine what is behind the question. In other words, why are they really asking that question? What are they trying to find out? When you fully understand exactly what they want to know, answer it honestly and completely.
Know when to stop talking
Pregnant pauses in interviews are difficult for everyone. The interviewer knows that they should be controlling the situation but there are times when an inexperienced or nervous interviewer can make things difficult. Instead of sitting there and revelling in their discomfort, help them out! Ask them something like: “Does that answer your question or would you like me to elaborate?”.
Interviews are as much about finding out if you can get along together as being the best person for the job. Being nice and polite costs nothing and may just be that deciding factor that makes the difference in landing that role.
Author: Glenn Hughes
I’m a professional CV writer who also writes website content, LinkedIn profiles, helps people with bespoke job applications and more. I’ve been writing for the internet since 2009 and have many published articles.