5 More Tricky Interview Questions and How to Ace Them
Following from The 3 Worst Interview Questions and How to Answer Them, lets look at a few more sneaky questions an interviewer might throw your way:
“What are your strengths?”
What they really want to know: what your strengths are, but also your confidence level and self awareness.
Don’t say: “I’m an expert at such and so”
Do say: “I have a real passion for such and so, and that’s always been behind my interest in it”
Ace it: Don’t brag, and don’t be too humble. Honestly list those qualities that are relevant for the job.
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
What they really want to know: whether you’re going to stick around long enough, and whether you’re ambitious.
Don’t say: “Well, hm, I’m not really sure, who knows what life has in store for me…”
Do say: “My long term goal is to eventually be the manager of my own branch… and I’m doing a programming course next month to expand my skills”
Ace it: Have a plan and show that you take your future seriously. Employers like people who know what they want and have a plan to get it.
“Why do you want to work here?”
What they really want to know: how bad you want the job, as well as your ambition and motivation levels.
Don’t say: “I need the money! And the office is on the bus route”
Do say: “Your company’s mission aligns well with my values and I’m always excited to read about your company’s policies, especially…”
Ace it: Be genuinely interested in the company and do your research about them beforehand. What makes your company stand out from the others?
“How would you describe yourself in one word?”
What they really want to know: what your priorities are, how you cope with being put on the spot and how you see yourself.
Don’t say: “Um… just one word? Um, I don’t know. Hm. That’s tricky. Let me think. Um. ‘Nice’?”
Do say: “Well, I would have to go with ‘enthusiastic’ because I think if there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I have a lot of energy for the things I care about.”
Ace it: Relax with this question and don’t get flustered. When in doubt, err on the side of more conservative words like “focused” or “authentic”, and think of the best aspects of your professional identity, not your personal one.
“What did you think of your last employer?”
What they really want to know: whether you’re professional or have a “difficult” personality. This question weeds out office gossips and people who stir up drama in the workplace.
Don’t say “My last boss was terrible, and my coworkers were no better. This one time…”
Do say: “My previous employer’s working style was a little different from mine. We managed to see past our differences but I’m currently looking for an employer who can really challenge me”
Ace it: Never speak badly of another professional in an interview, no matter how tempting it may be. If you got on well with them, say exactly why and try to bring it back to the job you’re applying for.
Interviewers aren’t trying to trip you up (usually!) so try to relax and focus your energy on giving smart answers. It helps to try put yourself in your interviewer’s shoes: what would the ideal employee say?