5 MOST difficult interview questions

In this exclusive article from Go Zambia Jobs we list 5 of the most difficult types of interview questions AND suggest how you can provide successful answers.

1. Leaving Questions

Common forms of this question include:

  • why do you want to change jobs?
  • why were you made redundant?
  • why were you dismissed from your previous job?

This type of question is an opportunity for you to communication why you want to join this organisation. It is also an opportunity for you to outline your skills relevant to the role. It is NOT an opportunity for you to bad mouth your current or previous employer.

Example Answer: Having examined the job advertisement and conducted in-depth research into the role and the organisation, I felt that my skills and experience in X,Y and Z combined with my passion for this type of work meant that I would be able to contribute a great deal to the organisation. For example, my qualifications and training in X mean that I am completely up to date with the skills that you require. Furthermore, in my previous role I applied these skills to make X impact…

If you were dismissed or made redundant be honest and try to emphasis some positives from the situation.

Example Answer: Unfortunately my experience (or personality) was not the right match for my former employer. However, having studied the job advertisement and conducted research into your organisation I believe that I would be a good match for your organization. In particular I am highly skilled in X, Y and Z – would these skills be of use in this role?

2. Role-Based Questions

Common forms of this question include:

  • why should we hire you?
  • if you were given the job what would you do?

Surprisingly these are questions that candidates often forget to prepare an answer to in advance. This is a mistake as it a crucial question and could determine whether or not you are offered the job. To prepare for this type of question you need to examine the job advertisement for clues as to what the employer is looking for in this role. Try to match your skills and experience to show how you meet these requirements. You should also think of quantifiable examples (x turnover increase, % change etc.) that will provide additional impact to your answer.

Example Answer:  In my previous employment I gained significant experience of preparing and delivering successful marketing plans. A successful marketing plan starts by defining a set of clear marketing objectives and answering the question what is the ultimate goal of this marketing initiative? Once this has been agreed I would….

3. Personality Questions

Common forms of this question include:

  • How would you describe your personality?
  • Are you a team player?
  • How do you deal with conflict?

These types of questions aim to ensure that your personality is right for the role and/or organisation. Research has shown that there are many different personality types and matching the right personality with the right role and/organisation is important for both you and the employer. You can learn more about personality types and discover your own personality type in our article “Personality Types“. Be sure to think about your personality type in advance of the interview so you are able to provide an honest and insightful answer.  The secret to a good answer to these questions are to provide relevant examples that demonstrate your personality type.

Example Answer: I would describe myself as a self-motivated, accomplished communicator with excellent leadership skills. For example, I recently led a project during which I effectively communicated with and managed accounting, marketing and sales professionals to launch a new product. Providing clear leadership, I was able to identify the skills required from the team and communicate with all levels. The result was that the product was successfully launched on time and to budget. The product went on to achieve outstanding results including…

4. Weakness Questions

Common forms of this question include:

  • what is your greatest weakness?
  • what do people most often criticize about you?
  • what have you learned most from your mistakes?

The reasons employers ask questions about your weaknesses is:

  • to identify weaknesses and areas for concern
  • to test your self-awareness
  • to examine your communication skills

Remember that an employer is interested in work-based weaknesses and not other aspects of your life. What the interviewer wants to find out is whether you are intelligent enough to have thought about areas for personal development and crucially what steps you have taken to rectify these areas.

Example Answer: When working in an accountancy firm and studying towards my professional qualification I found it difficult to allocate my time – there just didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. I therefore looked for ways I could organise my time more efficiently. I found that by producing a study plan and scheduling my time I was able to get more done. The result has been that I have improved my efficiency at work and improved my grades…

5. Salary Questions

Common forms of this question include:

  • How much do you expect to get paid?
  • What level of salary are you seeking?

The best thing you can do is to research what type of salary you might expect prior to the interview. If you do this then you should not be too far away from what the employer is thinking. You could also try deflecting the question back on to the interviewer so that you can get a better indication as to what they may want to pay.

Example Answer: Could I ask what you would usually pay somebody with my level of skills and experience?

If the employer provides a low figure do not immediately terminate the interview and leave. Instead remain calm and continue to emphasis your suitability for the role. The employer could be trying to test how you react under pressure. Continuing with the interview also provides you with opportunity to demonstrate why you are worth more than the low figure. You do not usually have to make a decision on the spot so once the interview has finished you will have more time to think about the salary.

Need more sample interview questions and answers?

Check out our article Top 10 interview questions and answers.

Further Information

To find more careers articles visit: Careers Advice

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