As someone who’s been both interviewer and interviewee, I know how daunting it can be when you’re asked a killer question and you just don’t know how to answer it. You freeze, feel like it’s all over… yep, we’ve all been there, and it can be scary! So, I’m here today to give you some advice on what to do when you get asked that brutal question. Let’s get into it!
Finding The Answers Before You Arrive
Before we get into this; of course, some interviews may be unpredictable and you might have questions thrown at you that you weren't expecting. But, there is a possibility that you can prep answers beforehand for questions that you will probably be asked!
For example, if you check out the job description and requirements in detail, try to remember all the key skills and responsibilities so you can incorporate them into your answers. This’ll really impress the employer and show them that you take this seriously.
Classic questions may be things such as ‘what do you understand the job role to be?’ If you’ve checked it out before and familiarise yourself with it, it’s likely you’ll answer with confidence! If you look hard enough, the answers will be there.
However - in contrast, it is worth noting that sometimes, too much prep can be counter-productive. Don’t stress yourself out over this - taking time out is also very important.
Tough Questions You May Be Asked & How To Answer Them
Most interviews do tend to follow a similar format of questions, but it totally depends on the company and who’s interviewing you! Sometimes, employers will mix it up and ‘test’ you with more challenging questions that may take you by surprise. Let’s talk about it…
1 - Give an example of a time you’ve… helped someone/saved the day/sorted a tricky situation etc.
This is always a really awkward question, especially if you’re lacking work experience. Do I mention something that happened with my mates? At school? In the workplace? As this is such a broad question, it doesn’t really matter the situation or who it was with, as long as you can link the situation to skills that would be valued on the job - i.e. patience, initiative or confidence etc.
You can take something small but make it sound absolutely brilliant, such as helping your Nan set up her new phone or running a passport to your friend at the airport who forgot it. You are more amazing than you think!
2- If you could be an animal/chocolate bar/colour what would you be?
These sort of questions can certainly throw someone off, as they’re so unexpected - especially in a more formal setting! If this happens, just go with the flow and try to think of an answer as creative and fun as the question. These aren’t usually serious tests (I’m sure the interviewer won’t hate you if you say you’d prefer to be a dog over a cat) but they’re more to get a feel for your personality. Just enjoy it!
3 - Tell me about yourself...
Such a vague question, as it can be difficult deciding what to actually answer with. Avoid rambling or waffling, and highlight relevant things such as your work experience or qualifications to date. Talking about your ambitions is a good idea too, as it shows determination and dedication in your personality. Aim high!
4 - Why should I hire you?
Gaaah! How do you answer this dreaded question? Firstly, if you have the correct qualifications for the job, point this out. If you’ve had relevant work experience, chat about this and how it prepared you for the new job. If neither, then focus on what you can bring to the team and how your qualities will benefit the business.
Don’t give up or panic here -if you really can’t think of anything to sell yourself with, highlight how enthusiastic and keen you are to learn more and further your career with this specific business.
5 - Why do you want to work here?
This is your chance to show off some of the prior research you *should* have done on the company before your interview. Tapping in to the companies values and linking them to your own will really impress and show that you’ve prepped well. Explain that the company connects you to your passions, or that they have a great opportunity that’s suited perfectly to you.
Avoid answers that involve pay, or simply just needing a job - you want the employer to know that you’re motivated to work there, not anywhere.
6 - Where do you see yourself 1/5/10 years from now?
If you’re a young person, answering this question can be tough, because, well, most of us don’t have our lives planned out! They’re probably not interested in how many children you’d like, or what dog breed you want to own, so instead focus on career ambitions. Think about your goals for the next few years - explain you want to progress and move up the ladder, as this’ll show you’re ambitious and motivated. Don’t be shy with your goals - aim high. Bosses love this!
There we have some nasty questions you might get asked. These are usually asked to A) see how you think ‘outside the box’ and get a sense of your ‘spark’, and B) to see how you handle pressure - don’t start panicking or have a bad reaction. Take a moment to relax and have a good think before answering anything.
Golden rules for coping with difficult questions
Breathe! You’re not in a rush, so take your time.
Think! They’re not expecting instant, incredible answers. Showing them you can think about the question and not get flustered will show you can use your initiative.
Authenticity - remain ‘you’ at all times - it’s the best anyone can ask for. Don’t make things up just to impress employers - be honest, always.
Control - this is your interview: own it. You’re there to sell yourself, so be confident! You’ve got this!
What Questions Can You Ask?
It’s worth remembering that just because you’re the one being interviewed, it doesn’t mean you can’t ask your fair share of questions either. It’s a two way street - you’re being assessed for the job, but you’re also assessing the company to see if it would be a good fit for you.
In fact, it goes down well if you do ask questions, because it reflects your interest and shows that you genuinely want to learn more about what the company can offer you. Having absolutely nothing to ask after your interview may come across disinterested or unbothered, and you certainly don’t want that. Don’t be shy! Things you could ask are:
Tell me about your company values/culture?
Who do you consider your top competitors to be?
Where do you think the company will be at in 5 years time?
What do you like best about working here?
What are the biggest challenges in the position/business?
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