How to Answer the Toughest Interview Questions

Job interviews can be an intimidating concept. From making sure you give the best representation of yourself, to getting a feel for your potential future employer – many people can feel the pressure.

We can’t help you choose your outfit, but we can give you some insider tips for the toughest interview questions that almost always come up.

“What is Your Greatest Weakness?”

This may seem like a tricky question at first, but keep in mind that what hiring managers really want to know is how you handle challenges on the job.
Think about the challenges you’ve been faced with at work or perhaps information from previous performance evaluations about areas for improvement.
You have two options, either to discuss non-essential skills or mention skills that you’ve made a conscious effort to improve. Either way, you want to be sure to end your answer with the solution to your weakness, or how you’re counteracting it.
Some examples include:

  • Finding it hard to ask for help.
  • Pay too much attention to detail.
  • Nervousness about public speaking.
  • Hesitancy about delegating tasks.
  • Struggling to say no to people.

Some things to avoid:

  • Going overboard – You don’t want to come across as unqualified for the role.
  • Don’t say that you don’t have any weaknesses – No one is perfect so it’s important not to come across as arrogant or dishonest by saying that you don’t have any weaknesses.

 “What Motivates you?”

The question is ultimately to get a better understanding to see if your personal motivations will be a good fit for the role and the company, so start off by reading the job description a few times to understand the role.
For example, if it says the role requires proactive team player, you’ll want to structure your answer around that and give examples for it.
Also, think about the level of role you’re applying for.
If the position is a Team Leader or Manager role, you’ll likely want to talk about how you’re motivated by mentoring and coaching others. Or if it’s an IT Support position, you might talk about how you’ve chosen the career because of your love of computers and solving people’s problems.
Things to include:

  • Do your research and provide job-related examples.
  • Allow your personality to shine!
  • Be honest – if you’re not honest with yourself or the interviewer, you could end up in a job you don’t like. 

Things to Avoid:

  • Ramble – be prepared so you can keep your answer to the point.
  • Mention any negatives – you want to highlight positive motivations.

“What did YOU do in Your Last Role?”

Be precise in the language you use when talking about the work you did. Avoid falling into the trap of talking about what you did as a team and using phrases liked “pitched in” or “helped out” or “we”.

Instead be specific about the value you added by using “I” or phrases like “led” or “drove”. Wherever possible, include examples of processes you improved, targets you reached or otherwise.

For example, if you reduced costs by 15%, in a particular area you should make sure to highlight this – as specifically as possible.

Showing your team work skills is important, but don’t undervalue the impact you had and the work you put in to help make something happen.

What if You’re Asked a Tough Question and you Don’t Know the Answer?

This question comes up a lot and I would always advise the following:

  • Don’t just keep talking, take a breath and collect yourself.
  • Say “That’s an interesting question, let me think about that for a moment”.

One of the main reasons why I recommend people accept a glass of water in an interview even if they aren’t thirsty is for this very reason.

You don’t get brownie points for rushing into an answer straight away, but you will score some if you take some time before answering questions as you’ll come across as more confident and more considered.

If you’re eager to put our interview tips into action, you can browse our live roles here, or submit your CV to start the search for your new job.

Author – Amy Bodles