Going for an interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. In order to present your best self to a future employer and ensure your greatest chance of success, you need to be prepared. Besides researching the company and ensuring you look the part, take some time to think about the types of interview questions you might be asked.
Below are 5 tough questions that often come up in job interviews – they’re tough because they require on-the-spot answers and are designed to figure if you are a good fit for the position and the company. Knowing your answers to questions like these will give you an advantage in the interview and help you feel calmer and more confident.
- Why should we hire you for this job? This question tests your knowledge of the company and the position. It will help the interviewer establish whether you truly know what the job requires and if you are able to fulfil the role beyond the qualifications listed on your CV. Take time to research the company and the position. Find out what is required and think about how you can match your experience and skill set to these requirements. Collect examples from your past work history to show why you are the best fit for the position and then say so – “I’m the best person for this job because… (list suitable reasons).”
- What is one thing you’d change about your last job? The way you answer this question says a lot about your attitude towards work and your previous employer. Avoid disparaging or personal remarks about your superiors or co-workers. The interviewer might know the individuals in question. Even if they don’t, a negative attitude will only reflect badly on you, leaving the interviewer wondering if you would complain about them at some stage as well. Use this question as an opportunity to show that you can recognise potential problems, take ownership for them, and voice them appropriately. For example, you can point out that your previous company was small and didn’t focus on growing individuals to the next level as there was no next level but that you need to grow beyond the boundaries of your last position into something new and more challenging.
- Are you a team player? This is not a simple yes/no question. It requires a balance between showing the interviewer that you can successfully work in a team and that you have the ability to self-regulate and make independent decisions. Above all, however, you should emphasise the importance of a team win over an individual ‘in this for myself’ one. Answer this question with examples from your work experience and tie them to your ability to adapt to different situations and structures. Take note that this question might lead into one about handling conflict within your work team…
- Have you ever had to resolve a workplace / team conflict? The way you handle and resolve (as well as describe) conflict will give the interviewer insight into your teamwork and interpersonal skills. Questions like these, that ask you to draw on past experiences, can be used as a good predictor of your future behaviour. Don’t be a drama queen – keep your description of the incident short and focused – avoid rambling or going off the point. Describe what happened, what solution you suggested, and the (positive) end result.
- If you had to live your life over again, is there anything you’d change? This question is a particularly hard one because, for most people, the answer is bigger than what is necessary for an interview situation. To give a great answer to this question in an interview, it is best to focus on a specific example and a positive result or learning that you are using to move forward in life. For example: “One thing I would change would be to focus earlier on my chosen career. I would have achieved more by now if I’d done that. But, I’ve learnt a lot along the way and am looking forward to future experiences in this field. Just this year, I made great strides by… (give examples).”
Hopefully, these questions have given you some food for thought before your next job interview. They may not come up in these exact words but it’s worth giving the topics highlighted by each question some serious consideration. You never know when a well-thought out point could be the difference between getting hired or rejected.