Ok, so you’ve landed that interview, but now you’re starting to panic about all the difficult questions you might be asked.
Panicking has never led to a person being able to think more clearly and there’s plenty of time to prepare, so you knock every answer straight out of the park.
Make sure you’re confident speaking about your past experience, your skills, how you do your job; and memorise a number of scenarios where you’ve demonstrated these skills in action. For the more general, tricky interview questions, it’s all about having great answers prepared before you go in.
Here are 3 of those tricky question, and 3 ways to answer them with full marks!
“Why did you leave your last job/ Why do you want to leave your current job?”
This will obviously depend on the circumstances of how you left your old job, but what the interviewer is trying to do is to make sure that you didn’t leave on bad terms and to hear how you speak about the company. Most companies will seek a reference from your most recent position, should be successful enough to get to the last stages, so they will be able to identify if what you’re saying is true.
To ace this answer, speak warmly about your company and if you’re still there, say you feel you’ve travelled a long way with the company and they’ve helped you to grow, however it’s the right time for you to look for your next challenge and to start challenging yourself in different areas.
This answer shows you speak well of your old company, that you’re thankful for the opportunities they have given you, but that you’re also ready to move on for reasons that aren’t related to money, and you’re excited to challenge yourself.
“Tell me a little bit about yourself”
This is a question most people dread, as most people hate to talk about themselves. They’re afraid that they’ll come across as big headed if they use praise, so revert to downplaying their achievements. This really isn’t the way to go. What you need here, and what is so useful in a number of networking scenarios, is to develop your very own ‘Elevator Pitch.’
An Elevator Pitch, is the pitch you would give to, say a business investor, that should happen to step onto an elevator with you. You’ve only got one chance to reel them in, as to why they should do business with you (or your company). It’s a 30-60 second (About the time for an elevator to reach the top of the building to the bottom) pitch that is short, punchy and confident.
Your Elevator pitch will take time to get right, but once you do it’s one of the most useful speeches you can have ready to go. It should address the following:
- Your goals
- What you do
- Your unique selling point
- Finish with a question that relates your USP to their business**
* * If your unique selling point is excellent change management, ask how the company has dealt with recent transitions
Now tie it all together, practice saying it in the mirror and you’re good to go whenever you hear this question.
“What are your weaknesses?”
Another tricky one as this question requires you to find ‘Weaknesses’ that aren’t really ‘Weaknesses’, that you can turn around to in fact be strengths – through the efforts you’ve made to address them. Again you’ll need to have this answer well rehearsed and have a number of points prepared. Some ones to consider include:
- “Sometimes, I can give too much of myself to a project” – To remedy this, say you focus on the requirements of the project, you continually check these requirements and tick them off as completed until you have satisfied all criteria and then hand the project over.
This shows you as someone who invests in their work, but also someone who schedules in order to get work finished to high standards, by addressing all requirements and is mindful of deadlines.
- “I get nervous when speaking in front of large groups” – to remedy this, you’ve taken lessons in public speaking and are pushing yourself to do this more.
This shows that you acknowledge a fear, that many people have, but have been proactive about taking steps to tackle this. If you’re confident in the interview as well it’s a good indicator that these methods are working!
The most important thing here is that you acknowledge that you have skills that need to be worked on, that they’re not major skills that will affect your performance in this particular job and that you don’t answer with a ‘significantly weird’ answer that sends people running from the room.
An interview can be a nervous experience, but it doesn’t have to be. The most effective way to prepare for an interview is to research plenty and be confident about speaking of yourself and your experience. If you are relaxed you will find it much easier to react to questions you weren’t expecting.
And remember, the interviewers don’t want you to fail. They’re hoping that you’re the right fit as well, so they can fill the position and everyone can start working!