How to answer difficult interview questions –
What we're covering..
Interviews can be scary, especially when you’re asked difficult questions.
The best way to ace difficult interview questions is to prepare answers and practice!
Things you will need:
What to do:
- Look at the question examples below
- Prepare answers you could give
- Practice answering the questions until you feel ready!
How to answer difficult interview questions
Introducing yourself 👋
Tell us about yourself. 🙋♀️
Talk a little bit about the things that you’ve put on your CV. See if you can sneak in some of your achievements. Try not to ramble/talk for longer than 5 minutes! This question is usually just an icebreaker to get the conversation going.
Why do you think that you’re suitable for this role? 💃
This is an opportunity for you to stand out – talk about why you’ve got a great attitude and how your experience/skills link to the job description.
Why do you want this job? ✨
Try to avoid complaining about your current situation when you answer this. Focus on the positives – tell them why the job is so exciting for you, and how you think you’ll be a great fit!
What are your strengths? 💪
Here you should talk about 3 things:
- Experience/knowledge 🧠
e.g. you’ve studied different topics that relate to the job
- Skills ⚒️
e.g. communication skills, problem solving, decision making
- Positive personality traits ☀️
e.g. reliable, hard working, respectful
What are your weaknesses? 😩
As ever, try and keep this one positive! Use an example that is a small weakness, that isn’t particularly relevant to do the job.
You can use weaknesses like:
Taking mistakes too personally 😭
“I’ve struggled in the past with taking mistakes too personally. However, it’s something I’m aware of, and I always learn from the mistake and work to make sure that it never happens again.”
Focusing too much on details 🕵️♀️
“I sometimes focus too much on the details of work. However, it’s something I’m aware of, and I monitor how long I spend working on details, to make sure that I remember the bigger picture.”
Managing work/life balance 🤹♀️
“I really care about my work, and sometimes struggle to maintain boundaries between work and my personal life. This can lead to me feeling burned out, so now I always make time in my schedule to have a break and spend time with family.”
Struggling to say no 🙅♀️
“I struggle to say no when people ask me for help. However, it’s something I’m aware of, and I monitor my workload closely so that I know when I have enough time to help others.”
Your previous work 💼
What did you dislike about your last job? 👎
Again, try to avoid be as positive as you can when answering this question. Some safer answers could be:
I have really enjoyed my current job. It has given me lots of experience, and taught me a lot but:
- I’m keen to gain more experience and development.
- The role with you fits really well with my long term career goals, so I couldn’t ignore the opportunity!
- I’m ready to take the next step in my career.
- I’ve always wanted to do this role, so I couldn’t ignore the opportunity!
How have you responded to criticism in the past? 😟
Talk about how you welcome constructive criticism because it helps you to learn and improve in your job. You can say that making mistakes is part of growing at work, and if you make a mistake you will always own up it, and try to never repeat it.
What are you most proud of in your working life? 🏅
Pick some examples from your “Wall of Wins” that you’d be excited to talk about. Link your “wins” to the job description to make them even more impressive!
Competency (skills) questions ⚒️
On top of the general interview questions above, interviews often throw tricky “competency”(skills) questions at you.
These questions ask for examples of how you’ve used your skills.
– You can often guess what skills they’ll ask you about, based on what is in the job description.
For example –
“Describe a time when you were organised.”
“Give an example of when you’ve worked well in a team.”
“Tell me about a time where you made a difficult decision.”
These questions can be difficult to answer because you need to:
- Give examples
- Tell a story
- Avoid waffling
- Get straight to the point
- Impress them
Thankfully, the perfect way to answer the questions has been developed! This is called the STAR method (Situation Task Action, Result).
It gives you 4 steps to answering skills questions perfectly.
The STAR method ⭐
- Describe the situation
2. Describe the task you were challenged with
3. Explain the action that you took
4. Explain the result of you did
For example, for the question “Give an example of when you’ve worked well in a team.”
Situation – My football team were feeling sad after losing a match. ⚽💔
Task – I needed to motivate the team for our next game. 📣
Action – I created a “Wall of Wins” to show the team everything we had achieved. 🧱
Result – The team were delighted, and now review the “Wall of Wins” before every match. We haven’t lost a single game since! 🎉
Remember to make yourself the hero! 🦹♀️
Talk about the amazing things that you did, rather than talking too much about anyone else.
Examples to practice – 25 skills interview questions ⚒️
Tell us about a time where you….
- Worked well in a team
- Were organised
- Presented something
- Aimed high
- Solved a problem
- Used communication skills
- Were creative
- Used maths skills
- Managed money
- Stayed positive
- Made a difficult decision
- Used leadership skills
- Had to analyse something
- Were resilient
- Were proactive
- Came up with an idea
- Had to be persuasive
- Negotiated something
- Used reading skills
- Used writing skills
- Had to be honest with someone
- Had to do research
- Planned something
- Used computer skills
- Were confident
So that’s it!
Hopefully you’re feeling more prepared now about how to answer difficult interview questions.
Remember – EVERYONE has a horrible interview at some point in their lives. Every interview will help you to grow and become more confident!
If you know any friends or family members who might benefit from learning about difficult interview questions, share this post with them!
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