How to Answer Tricky Interview Questions

Interview questions there to trap you, but instead are set out to get the most accurate idea of who you are and what you can bring to the business.

It’s always better to be prepared, so here are 7 tricky questions that might trip you up in an interview. Luckily for you, we’ve come up with a few suggestions on how to answer them.

1. What are your areas for development?

Always do your research. Find out what the company is looking for in an employee.

Turn your weakness into a strength and show them how your weakness has been turned into a valuable skill or having recognised this as a development opportunity, what you have already started to do about it/will do about it.

2. Why do you want to work here?

By answering this question you’re showing how much research you’ve done prior to the interview and demonstrating a passion and genuine interest in joining that organisation. Don’t underestimate the importance of this question in the interviewer’s eyes! In the same way you’d write a cover letter by making sure it was bespoke to that company, you should do that for your interview.

You’ve got this far, why would you not conduct thorough research for the company you’re interviewing for?

Ensure your answer has substance, don’t waffle, and be specific and enthusiastic. Find out what their core values are, relate to them and wrap it all up with an inclusion of the job role you’re applying for. Talk about career progression, how your aspirations are aligned to that company and always worth having some of the stats/facts about the company (Established when, CEO’s name, worksites, key customers, latest news, etc.)

3. What would you change about your last role?

Swing the question to talk about what you liked about the job. Use those attributes to complement how it can be an advantage to your new role.

Perhaps think about one task you didn’t enjoy as much as the others, however, recognise that this was still important and what you did to ensure you still focused on this less enjoyable/rewarding task.

Avoid criticising others wherever possible, instead try and focus on you, what you learnt, what you would do differently?

4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Employers are looking to see if you are goal orientated. Have you got a 5-year plan? What is your personal 5-year plan, what is your career 5-year plan?

Be prepared to give an example of a goal you have achieved.

When answering the questions ensure your goals and aspirations to align with those of the business. Show them that you want to grow with the company. Talk about moving up in the company and what role you want to work hard to get.

5. Give me an example of a time you had to deal with a difficult situation.

This doesn’t necessarily need to be work-related. It could be something that happened at school, on your travels or even at home, although where possible try and make it work-related if possible.

Keep it professional.

You’ll be able to demonstrate how you cope under pressure.

Bring it all together by telling them what you learnt from it and how you can implement that lesson to the role.

6. What can you contribute to the company/role?

Have evidence to back up your answer. Show enthusiasm but don’t over-sell. Express how your skills will be useful to the company and how will it help them reach their goals?

Again, provide an example of an achievement or something you personally changed/developed/implemented in your previous role.

7. How do you respond to criticism?

Let’s be honest…no one likes criticism. Show that you don’t take criticism too personally. Nobody is perfect and they know that. Answer by saying you welcome feedback. If you make a mistake you learn from it and ensure it’s not repeated.

Have an example prepared. What steps did you take to learn from this feedback, how did it benefit you?

Key points to remember:

  • Take time to research and prepare for every interview
  • Do some research on the interviewers, where have they worked before, how long have they been in this current role
  • Don’t be afraid to reframe the question to ensure you fully understand it and provide the best possible answer
  • Be confident but not arrogant. Find the right balance.
  • Always tie it back to the role/company.
  • Prepare some questions for the interviewers (about the role, the project, the team, the company culture, etc.)