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Top 15 Tricky Job Interview Questions

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

So, tell us about yourself.

Often an interview opener – this is a question and trips most people up. It’s mainly used as an ice breaker to get the conversation flowing but don’t make the mistake of rambling. Instead, take your cv with you and pick out some career highlights

Why do you want this job?

Hmm, a very tricky one. You need to be honest but not TOO honest, depending on whether you are simply desperate to leave your current position and don’t care where you go! Focus on the positives of this job advertisement and what made you think that this job would be a good fit! Take this opportunity to explain! E.g. I love digital marketing and would love a job where I can focus solely on this sector.

What did you dislike about your last job?

Again, avoid negativity. Don’t talk badly about your previous employer – simply the frustrations of the job / role..g. ‘I have really enjoyed my current job and I’ve learnt a lot and grown as a person. However, I disliked that there was no opportunity for promotion and I know that I’m ready to take the next step with my career.’

How do you respond to criticism?

Don’t say: ‘I do NOT like people criticising me!’ DO say: ‘I welcome constructive criticism as it helps me to learn and get better at my job. Nobody is perfect but I always make sure that if I make a mistake, it’s the first and last time’.

What are you most proud of in your working life?

Go to the interview prepared with a few examples of your successes and, if possible, use examples to back it up. E.g. ‘I worked really hard to set up a new filing system and won a prize for innovation at our Employee Awards. The new system had saved the admin team 10 hours a week in wasted resource.’

What are your weaknesses?

This one almost ALWAYS comes up! Don’t ever give a negative.

These are all unacceptable: careless, stroppy, always late, violent

Also avoid: I don’t like working with others.

I struggle with deadlines.

These are too common and should also be avoided:

I’m a perfectionist.

I don’t have any.

I can’t think of anything.

I work too hard.

Try to put a positive spin on that negative and turn it into something that could actually benefit the company. Alternatively, mention a weakness that is not necessarily relevant to your suitability for the role. It is honest and true, but doesn’t have any immediate repercussions to your chances of securing the role.

The most effective way to tackle this question is to honestly address a shortcoming and mention how you’ve worked to overcome it. This shows the interviewer that you’re capable of accepting a fault and that you can improve on it. After all, self-awareness and problem solving skills are very valuable assets! E.g. I sometimes take mistakes too much to heart. However, I make sure I learn from them and never make the mistake again.

How do you respond to stress and pressure?

An employer wants to know what you will actually be like in a busy place and how reliable and calm you will be when things go wrong. Give examples of times when you have met difficult deadlines or handled tricky people.

What are your greatest strengths?

These will be fairly easy, depending on the role. If it’s in sales, then team player, relationship building etc. If you are an accountant, then attention to detail, calm under pressure etc.

What motivates you?

Don’t say money – unless you applying for a high pressure sales job. Lets face it – that is why we all work – but try to think of what would encourage you to do this job if you didn’t need the money? Sense of achievement of a job well done? Achieving goals?

What are you passionate about?

This does not necessarily need to be work related and can give your potential employees a bit more of an insight of you as a person. It may be saving elephants in Thailand or helping animals in the local area. Try not to mention things that are too controversial, just incase the interviewer is on the other side of the fence.

How would you describe yourself?

Again... the interviewer is asking about you, as a person. They ask this to get a feel for how you will fit into the company. Sociable, passionate and caring might be a good answer. Drunken bum is obviously not!

Do you check your email during your vacation?

This is a bit of a trick question, since the interviewer needs to know that you are dedicated, but self care is also important. Rather than saying ‘Yes, of course’, try a more reasoned approach. E.g. Preparation is key! Before I go, I will obviously pass over all ongoing projects to my colleagues, set auto responses on my emails etc. I will also provide my contact number to my manager, incase of any emergency.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years / 10 years?

Answer in a way that demonstrates your commitment to grow within your field. Employers want to hire employees who are self-motivated and who have an inner drive to better themselves and keep learning. But, keep in mind that an employer may follow up with a question asking about specifics, so if possible have a few key tangible goals you'd like to accomplish.​ E.g I see myself working in this field, but I hope to have a higher level of responsibility and a greater degree of knowledge. I always want to keep learning and improving myself and I am sure my position in 5 ( or 10) years will reflect this.

Everyone Has One Exaggeration on Their Job Application. What's Yours?

This is an attempt to see if you will fall for a trap! Hopefully your CV and covering letter are honest and truthful. With this in mind, say this. My application accurately represent my experience and work, Feel free to reach out to the references that I provided and they will vouch for my attributes.

Why you?

This is often a closing question and gives you the chance to stand out. Talk about your experience and skills but also about YOU as a person – your attitude and interests and why you’re uniquely suited to the job. Imagine yourself in their shoes. What kind of qualities do you imagine they are looking for? What attributes would make for their perfect candidate? Give some thought as to what it is about you that makes you the perfect fit and then tell them about it. The job description, along with company research will provide some of the answers – but the best ones are inside you. Why you? Ask yourself this question – then answer it fully and during the interview – bring out the highlights!

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