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10 challenging interview questions
23 February 2015
It’s the interview moment every job seeker dreads. Just when you thought you had them eating out of the palm of your hand, you’re hit with a question straight out of left field.
While there’s no way of predicting exactly what you’ll be asked at an interview, these answers to our 10 challenging questions might just help you out of a tight spot:
Why are you leaving your current job?
If your reason for changing jobs is because of a personality conflict with your manager or colleagues, it’s best not to highlight the situation as it may raise red flags. Instead, focus on talking about how you are looking for a new challenge, how excited you are about this new opportunity, and how you believe you are very well suited to the position.
How do you respond to taking direction from superiors?
Here you need to emphasise your ability to work as part of a team. Talk briefly about how all teams need to take direction from a manager and give a strong example of how you have done this successfully in the past.
How well do you handle criticism?
Here you get to show your human side by talking about how we all make mistakes, and how we can all learn from constructive and positive criticism. If they ask for an example, talk about some constructive feedback you’ve received relating to an area that is not vital for the job, and how you worked to overcome it.
What motivates you?
This is definitely not where you talk about ‘money’ and ‘fast cars’. It might be working as part of a high performance team, being immersed in important and meaningful projects, or seeing how much of a difference your contribution makes to customers or your business.
How long would it take before you make an impact if you started today?
You can always say you’d hope to contribute from day one, but you also need to be realistic and explain that it might take a couple of months before you fully understand the inner workings of the company to a sufficient extent that you could make a noticeable impact.
Have you attended other interviews?
This is a great question which you can really turn to your advantage. A candidate in demand will naturally appear more appealing to any hiring manager. So, say you are actively looking for a new position but don’t give them the impression you’re more interested in landing another job than the one you’re being interviewed for.
What do you know about the company?
This is where your pre-interview research pays off. Outline briefly what you’ve learned about the company and appear keen to hear more.
What can you offer us that the next candidate can’t?
This is where you get to show off what you’ve got to offer. Talk about your achievements to date and the areas of the business you feel you could work with and where you feel you can make a positive impact.
We’re concerned you may be a little over qualified for the position, how do you feel about it?
Explain that you’re eager to establish yourself within the organisation for the long-term. You can say that you believe your experience will enable you to make significant contributions to the company from the outset and that ultimately you feel very well suited to the position on offer.
Is there any aspect of this job that you don’t find interesting?
Less is definitely more when answering this one. It’s a good idea to say that you’ve read through the job spec thoroughly, and at this point you are excited about all aspects of the role and looking forward to sinking your teeth into the new challenge. You could also demonstrate maturity by conceding that it’s natural for things to come up in the future that you may find less interesting than others, but this is the nature of any job.
Prepare for your upcoming interview by researching the hiring company and reviewing your CV to identify any questions the interviewer may ask. Interview preparation also involves practicing your response to more challenging questions. With any difficult question you are faced with, follow these steps:
Emphasise your enthusiasm for the role and organisation
Draw upon your thorough preparation notes
This should allow you to answer with confidence.