Nail the Interview

Ace Your Interview: Tackling the Toughest Job Questions

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Attending a job interview involves preparing for a set of predictable questions. “What are your strengths?” is essentially an opportunity to highlight your resume‘s best aspects. “Why do you want this job?” primarily verifies your understanding of the job description. With these questions, the key is to exude confidence and composure, maintain eye contact, and tailor your responses to be specific and relevant. Proper preparation and strategy can help transform these potential challenges into opportunities to shine.

Naturally, nestled among the expected inquiries are occasional curveballs, or questions that might be anticipated yet still evoke a sense of dread. These questions aren’t designed solely to instill fear; they can be addressed effectively without causing you undue stress. Let’s explore a few of these more challenging interview questions and provide strategies to navigate them with poise and confidence.

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What are your salary requirements?

At first glance, this question appears harmless, but it can pose a tricky dilemma. It’s essential not to overestimate your worth, yet underselling yourself is equally problematic. Ideally, you’d want the interviewer to disclose the salary range first.

The most effective strategy is to state your current or most recent salary while emphasizing that your primary focus is not the paycheck, but rather securing a position where you can significantly contribute to the company’s success. This approach balances your financial considerations with your professional aspirations.

Ideally, you should aim to limit salary discussions until the offer stage, where you’ll be in a more advantageous position to negotiate effectively. This approach ensures your focus remains on demonstrating your value and suitability for the role.

I notice there’s quite a gap in your Resume

In a persistently challenging job market, many of us have experienced periods of unemployment. When this topic arises during an interview, it can be disheartening. It’s natural to feel defensive, but it’s crucial to resist that impulse.

During an interview, there is the occasional blindside or question that you’re also secretly dreading. These questions aren’t included just to terrify you, however, and there are ways to answer them without being reduced to a gibbering wreck.Click To Tweet

It’s fine to acknowledge that it’s been tough finding a job- anybody who’s seen the news in the last three years will know that is true. The trick is to be able to say what you’ve been doing while looking for a job. If you’ve done any voluntary work while unemployed, now is a great time to bring it up. Likewise, if you’ve been learning or improving any skills, whether they’re related to the job you’re applying for or not. So long as you can demonstrate that you have been using your time, rather than spending it on the sofa watching daytime TV in your pajamas, you can turn this question into a plus for you.

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Why did you leave your last employer?

The golden rule here is never to speak negatively about your previous employer. It can be tempting- Lord knows it can be tempting, but the interviewer is going to hear every bad word about your last boss as future-you talking about them.

If you’re unemployed, it should be enough to say that your employer was making cuts to the workforce due to the economic situation. If you’re in a job that you’re looking to leave, it’s enough to say that you’re looking for new challenges.

Aren’t you overqualified for this position?

This can be a particularly tricky question at a time when graduate jobs are thin on the ground and many applicants are just looking to get whatever form of income they can. An interviewer looking at your cv may be concerned that you’re only taking this job until a better opportunity comes along (possibly because it’s true).

What you need to do here is come up with specific, convincing-sounding reasons why you want to work for this company and give the impression that you will be there for the long haul and open to promotions.

What would you say is your biggest weakness?

This question always feels just a little bit like cheating, doesn’t it? Surely they can’t just up and ask why they shouldn’t give you the job?

Unfortunately, yeah they are. When it comes to the “your biggest weakness” question, there are two popular schools of thought. The first is a false weakness, or “bragplaining”. This would be, for instance: “I’m just too much of a perfectionist” or “Often people say I work far too hard”. Be warned, your interviewer will see right through this with no trouble whatsoever.

The other school of thought is to pick a genuine, carefully judged weakness somewhere in the middle ground between “My professionalism is just too exemplary” and “I often forget to come to work on account of how much I drink”. A good one might be “I have trouble being assertive in group situations” (assuming, of course, that being assertive in group situations isn’t at the top of your job description). However, at the same time you tell the interviewer about this weakness and also tell them what you are doing to overcome that weakness- for instance, taking part in more group activities to overcome your shyness.

This approach will have you come across as honest, while at the same time showing that you’re dedicated to self-improvement.

Even for the very hardest interview questions, it’s not too hard to figure out which ones are going to come up in the interview ahead of time. So long as you practice your answers with a friend, and research the employer thoroughly in advance, you should be confident enough to take n the interview with ease.

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