Job interviews can be anxiety-inducing at the best of times – but when an interviewer throws a particularly tricky question your way, you can be left tongue-tied. Worse still, you could give an off-the-cuff answer that completely spoils your chances of being offered the job.
We all know that interviewers are going to ask us some tough questions – they’re there to measure our suitability and skill, after all, and challenging questions will help them to figure out whether you’re going to do a good job or not. But how should you respond to the curveballs they can sometimes throw your way?
With our years of experience as a leading London recruitment agency, we know the answers to those tricky questions and we want to share them with you. So check out our top ways to respond to some of the hardest - and most common - interview questions.
So, tell me about yourself…
The question (or rather, request) that most people dread! You want to give a good account of yourself and start the interview off well, but you don’t want to go off on a tangent or start talking about the job you had waiting tables when you were 15.
When employers ask this, they’re generally asking for a succinct summary of your career and accomplishments to date, with a little personal information thrown in. It’s a good idea to come up with a rough idea of how you’ll answer this question beforehand, because almost every interview contains some variation on this query.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This question involves striking a balance between humility and honesty. You want to make sure your interviewer is aware of your strengths - without sounding like you’re bragging or coming over too self-confident. You also want to answer the part about your weaknesses honestly without putting the interviewer off!
For your strengths, try to focus on things that will be immediately relevant to your role, so your potential employer can see how you’d be an asset. For your weaknesses, try to avoid admitting to any serious character flaws, such as inability to work in a team, or poor time management. By admitting to a skill-based weakness (for example, that you initially struggled when using Excel or another type of software), you can give the interviewer an example of how you overcame that weakness. Whatever you do, don’t tell them your biggest weakness is that you’re a workaholic – they’ll see right through it!
What do you like and dislike about your current job?
Again, you need to be as honest as you can here without falling into the trap of badmouthing your previous employer. This won’t cast you in a positive light. If you’re interviewing for a larger company, tell them that you’re concerned your current role doesn’t offer as much room to grow. If you’re interviewing for a job with better pay, talk about how your previous job lacked some security. These are mature, reasonable responses to this question. If you badmouth your old employer to your new one, they’ll start to wonder what you’ll be saying about them when you eventually move on from their firm!
Whether you’re seeking a new temporary PA job, a busy receptionist role, or an office manager opportunity, our blog has loads of great ideas and interview advice...
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