How to answer difficult interview questions

You’ve dressed up appropriately, your CV is positively gleaming with relevant skills and experience, and you’re fully prepared to sell your talents to your dream employer. But what happens when the interviewer asks those dreaded open ended questions that you just know are a device being used to read between the lines? It can be so hard to answer difficult interview questions, so instead of your chances disappearing down the plughole while you flounder, prepare for these questions using our tips below, and be ready for them regardless of the position you’re going for.

“Tell us about yourself.”
Ah, that old chestnut. By the way, if you hadn’t already realised, the interviewer isn’t interested in the fact you grew up in Brighton and enjoy heading to the beach at the weekends. This needs to be around 1-2 minutes of you talking about your education, word history, career experience, and personal qualities. All of these things need to be relevant to the job, either blatantly or subtly. This is likely to be an introductory question, but don’t underestimate it: it’s possibly one of the most important.

“Why do you want to leave your current position?”
This is not an opportunity to complain that the hours are too long (even if they are), that your boss makes too many unreasonable demands (even if they do) or even if the pay is rubbish (even if it is.) A much better response is that you’re looking for responsibilities that present you with more of a challenge, or even that you’re happy where you are, and would only be willing to leave for the right opportunity (which this position you’re interviewing for is, by the way!)

how to answer difficult interview questions“Give an example of when you’ve used your initiative”
You’re unlikely to come up with the best response on the spot, so this is one you need to think about beforehand. Be prepared for ‘used your initiative’ to be replaced with ‘ used lateral thinking’ or ‘handled a crisis’. Perhaps choose an experience that can be adapted to all of these types of questions, and focus on an instance that was solutions based, and not a plan that never got actioned.

“Where do you want to be in five years time?”
This is to test your staying power, and you should in no way say anything about doing their job, becoming CEO, or mention your bucket list plan to have moved across the world. There’s a fine line between ambition and arrogance, so tread carefully, and work out what it is that this company and sector expect from people, and use that to tell them how you hope to have moved up into supervisory and managerial positions.

Why should we hire you? 
This is an opportunity to show that you’ve done your homework. Match up the skills mentioned in the job description (which you have read carefully, right?) with the experience you’ve accumulated in your previous roles. Mention similarities between your values and theirs for extra brownie points too – this shows you have insight into what makes their business tick, which makes you stand out.

GoGecko help countless candidates ace interviews in a range of different industries across Sussex. Contact us today to find out if we could help find your perfect job.