5 Tricky Interview Questions & How To Answer Them
How you answer tricky interview questions can be the difference between landing your dream job or not.
Job interviews can be stressful situations and some questions may feel like they’re purposefully trying to trip you up. However, this is rarely the case. Even the trickiest questions shouldn’t be taken simply at face value. By understanding the intention behind a difficult or uncomfortable interview question, you can better formulate a compelling answer that will make you shine.
The great news is that there are a handful of questions that pop up time and again in interviews. This makes it much easier to prepare in advance and not be caught off guard. Whether the interview is conducted remotely or face to face, preparation will help you stand out from the crowd and show that you’ve done your homework.
As experienced recruiters, the Exacta Solutions team is intimately knowledgeable about all aspects of the interview process. Here, we guide you through five tricky interview questions, explain what the interviewer is really looking for, and offer up a few suggestions on how best to approach your answers.
1 – What are your weaknesses?
This is one of the most frequent interview questions that you’ll need to answer and, understandably, it’s not one any candidate enjoys answering particularly. After all, in an interview scenario, our instinct is to highlight our strengths, not pinpoint our defects. However, for the interviewer, this question is crucial to determine whether a candidate is aware of and humble enough to admit their shortcomings. They also want to see whether you’re doing anything practical to better yourself and overcome your flaws.
Everyone, has weaknesses. Identifying yours is not going to set you back. So, a good approach might be to start off by saying that everyone has a weakness and that you’re no exception. You can also try to give your answer a positive spin. For example, you may say that you’re a perfectionist, which is a good thing. However, this trait sometimes prevents you from maintaining good time management as you get caught up on the details. You can then state that you’re already developing some strategies to prioritise the tasks that are of most importance to invest your focus on.
2 – Where do you see yourself in five years?
Here, the interviewer is really looking to see if you’re a candidate who just wants to clock in, put in minimal effort, and receive your pay cheque at the end of the month, or whether you’re someone who is looking to grow within the role. It makes more sense for a company to invest in candidates who have the potential to rise within the company ranks and who will show a greater sense of ownership towards their position and responsibilities.
An ideal way to answer this question is to show your commitment to personal and career development. You can highlight that in the next five years you wish to become an expert within your field. That through the job you wish to gain a greater degree of knowledge, attain a higher level of responsibility, or even increase your skills through first-hand experience and further education.
This is also a great opportunity within the interview to ask whether the company itself offers any career development opportunities through sponsored courses, in-house training, mentoring programs, and other such initiatives. By flipping the question around, you’re showing that you’re taking the decision to join the company seriously.
3 – Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work
Similar to the “weaknesses” question, this can be another slightly uncomfortable line of inquiry to answer. Keep in mind that the goal isn’t to diminish you or your talent in any way. The interviewer is simply trying to discover whether you’re aware of the mistakes you’ve made in the past and how you’ve overcome them.
When answering this question, be tactical but honest. You may want to pinpoint an instant at a previous job where you tried to bite off more than you could chew. That through this you learnt to seek advice from your manager when your workload gets out of hand to understand how best to prioritise your tasks. You could also highlight a moment where you felt out of your depth with a task but failed to seek help or ask questions. You can then indicate that you’ve learned that by asking the right questions you can improve communication and deliver better results.
Whatever answer you give, try to ensure that it’s relevant to your work experience. Always end on a positive statement that demonstrably shows that you have learned from your mistakes and have bettered yourself.
4 – Why do you want to leave your current company?
It’s natural for the interviewer to want to know why you’re looking for a new job, especially if you’re leaving a company. The truth is that many of us feel the need to seek new employment when we are unhappy with our jobs. However, the best way to answer this question isn’t to actually state the bad things about your previous job. Instead, you should turn the focus on yourself.
For example, you should avoid blaming your previous company or manager for their failings. You could state that you felt you weren’t a good fit and that you hope to find a team you feel more at ease with. You could also explain that there weren’t any more opportunities to grow within your previous company, and that this new role aligns perfectly with your long-term goals as well as with your skills.
5 – What can you bring to the company?
This tends to be one of the final questions asked in an interview. You may feel this is an opportunity for boasting about all your incredible talents and skills. But you may want to put the brakes on that impulse.
The goal of the interviewer here is two-pronged. On the one hand, they do want to identify the traits that set you apart from all the other applicants. However, the interviewer also wants to understand how much you have studied the company and the role you’re applying for. So, it’s ideal that you frame your answer in such a way that highlights how your personal skills can be applied to improve specific aspects of the company.
As much as possible, try to give concrete examples based on the background research you’ve done while preparing for the interview. If you’re applying for a Social Media Coordinator role, look into the brand’s social media pages. Highlight how you may do things differently to achieve better results for the company. If you’re applying for a Public Relations position, explain how you can use your established network of contacts to gain the company greater exposure through media they haven’t been featured in yet. Whatever the position you are applying for, there are sure to be skills and knowledge that you possess that will benefit your new employer and their business.
Answering interview questions doesn’t need to be tricky. Exacta Solutions can guide you all the way. Contact us today if you’re looking to take the next step in your career.