Career advice

10 challenging interview questions

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 you left, or are leaving, your job because of a personality conflict, never try to explain the situation. You can say that you saw this job advertised and that you believe you would be very well suited to it, or you might explain that you’re looking for new challenges in the workplace.

How do you respond to taking direction from superiors?

Here you need to emphasise your ability to work as part of a team and talk briefly about how all teams need to take direction from a manager.

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.

What motivates you?

This is definitely not where you talk about ‘money’ and ‘fast cars’, mention instead how being immersed in a working project which delivers regular results motivates and drives you forward.

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.

What aspect of this job least appeals to you?

Less is definitely more when answering this one. There’s really only one answer: that you’ve read through the job spec thoroughly and there is no aspect of the job that doesn’t appeal to you. And then move along, quickly. Remember, the interview table is no place for moaning.