5 Tough Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
In our line of work, we spend a lot of time prepping candidates for interviews and getting feedback on questions & answers from both sides of the coin. Naturally, some questions are trickier to navigate than others, and often these more “difficult” questions are designed to test how we operate under pressure.
Preparation is key
The way in which we answer such questions can make or break our chance of success, and so it’s imperative that we anticipate and prepare for them adequately if we want to get ahead of the competition and walk into the interview feeling calm and ready for anything.
If you have an interview coming up and you want to impress, consider how you might answer the 5 notoriously tough interview questions below that we see coming up time and time again. You can thank us later.
Question 1 “What are your weaknesses?”
This is a common question employers ask to determine a candidate’s sense of self-awareness and drive for self-improvement, so it’s important to be honest but tactful here. Avoid predictable, overused answers such as “I’m a perfectionist” and clear red flags like “lazy” and “always late”. Instead, expand a truthful answer in a positive way by illustrating practices you’re putting into place to improve, e.g. “I’m not a natural presenter, however doing X, Y and Z is really helping me develop my skills, and I’m confident I can continue to grow in this area”.
Question 2 “How do you respond to pressure at work?”
Employers want reassurance that you will be able to handle the inevitable stresses and setbacks that come with the job. Using real examples of times you have successfully met tight deadlines or dealt with difficulties in an effective way is a great way to illustrate your ability to navigate problems at work with a calm and “can do” attitude.
Question 3 “Why you?”
This question (or some version of it) is almost guaranteed to come up in your next interview, and it’s your opportunity to stand out from the competition by demonstrating, with examples, how you are uniquely suited to the job. Try to touch on specific experiences and skills that link directly to points listed in the job spec, as well as your personal traits (attitudes, interests etc.) that will help you to succeed in the role. Not only will this give credibility to your answers, but it will illustrate to the interviewer that you have done your research and have really considered your compatibility with the role.
Question 4 “What did you dislike about your previous role?”
Avoid speaking negatively or moaning about your previous company here, and instead focus on the aspects this new opportunity is offering you that your previous company lacked i.e. “My company was great at X and Y, however I disliked that there were no progression plans in place, which is something that really drew me to this role”. This is a great way to show the interviewer that you’ve researched the company, acknowledged what it can offer you, and have ambitions to grow and succeed beyond the realms of your previous role.
Question 5 “How would you deal with conflict with a co-worker?”
A fundamental aspect of the success of an employee is the ability to build and maintain healthy working relationships. Answering this question in the right way is a great opportunity to demonstrate your listening, communication, reasoning and problem-solving skills. Try to use examples of times you have dealt with issues with respect, discretion, openness to different points of view and strong teamworking skills to reach effective solutions
The key theme to take away here is the power of optimism, and the ability put a positive spin on what is posed to elicit a potentially negative response. Everyone loves an optimist, so by framing your answer to demonstrate your can-do attitude, enthusiasm to excel and willingness to learn, you’re bound to make a great impression.
Give yourself time to think
It’s important to note, however, that no matter how much we prepare for an interview, sometimes questions will catch us off guard. If you need to some time to think, that’s OK. Often we are in such a rush to say anything at all, that we don’t give ourselves adequate time to consider what we really want to say. Ask for a moment’s respite to reflect on the question, take a deep breath before responding, and when you’re ready – give it your best shot.