How to handle tricky interview questions

How to handle tricky interview questions

So, you’ve landed a job interview and the next step is to prepare. Congratulations! 


While we wish we could tell you the exact questions you’ll be asked, we *sadly* aren’t mind readers, so we thought we’d do the next best thing and share some common (and sometimes tricky) interview questions you may be asked and our tips on how to answer them. 


It’s important to get comfortable with the questions. We don’t recommend rehearsing an exact answer, however, tackling possible ways you can approach a question or using different methods like STAR (situation, task, action, result) can be beneficial. 


Good luck! 


1. “Tell us a little about yourself”


This one seems pretty straightforward but it can ultimately shape the rest of the interview. Be careful not to waffle. While the interviewer is looking to find out about yourself and your life outside of your career, they also want to gauge whether you’ll be a great fit for the job. 


Talk about how you landed in the industry, speak positively about your last place of employment and what you learned in your previous role and segue this into why you’re applying for the current job. 


2.  “What are your biggest weaknesses?”


Let’s be real, this is a loaded question. While the interviewer wants to genuinely know your weaknesses, they’re also looking for self-awareness and honesty. Be strategic and pick a weakness that you’re already working to improve. Share how you’re overcoming this and turn it into a positive. 


3. “What are your biggest strengths?”


Quality over quantity… always! Don’t list a bunch of adjectives and leave it at that. Instead, identify two or three of your strongest attributes (two that you’re able to link back to the specific role you’re applying for and one that showcases your personality) and provide a few examples or scenarios on those strengths.  


4. “Provide an example of a time you made a mistake or didn’t deliver on expectations. How did you handle this and what were your learnings?”


Acknowledging a mistake in an interview and impressing someone aren’t mutually exclusive. We’re all human. Mistakes are normal and also very common. What’s more impressive is how you learn from them. The interviewer is trying to determine your attitude towards what occurred, your problem-solving skills and what you learnt from this. Most importantly, remember to talk about how you moved forward from this mistake. 


5. “How do you handle conflict in the workplace?” 


This is a really important behavioural question you’re most likely going to be asked. Conflict is inevitable and is quite common in the workplace. There’s a strong chance the person interviewing you has had their own workplace disagreement from time to time. It’s not the time for he-said-she-said though. Ultimately, they’re looking to see who instigated the issue, how you handled it, if you remained calm and professional and if you were able to rectify the situation.


6. “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”


Focus on your career goals and make sure they’re realistic. Interviewers are looking to see whether you’re goal-oriented or if you lack ambition and drive. They want to understand your future within the company and how serious you are about your career. While it’s nice to showcase your personality, talking about your travel plans or personal relationships isn’t necessarily the right move (unless it directly relates to your industry). 


7. “Tell us about a time you disagreed on a work decision. How did you handle it?”


Who hasn’t disagreed with a certain direction a colleague or manager went in? It’s completely normal to have different opinions and to voice them. The interviewer is trying to grasp whether you sit back in these situations or if you speak up and provide a reason and solution as to why you disagree. Examples are so important here. Being vague will only leave them feeling uncertain. 


8. “Provide an example of your biggest professional achievement” 


Don’t be shy! This is your time to shine. The main goal here is to highlight an achievement of yours that will allow the interviewer to see you in the role they’re hiring for. We recommend using a recent example. If you can, talk about return on investment, percentage of growth, how you were able to save your company money or meet sales targets etc.   


9. “How do you deal with stress or a busy workload?” 


This question will determine how well you prioritise your tasks, if you’re good with time-management and how you handle working with other people when you’re under pressure. Be specific and provide an example of how you’ve handled a stressful workload both professionally and personally. Talk about how you communicated to your colleagues or manager during this time, your go-to strategy for dealing with stress (meditating, fresh air, exercise, talking about the situation), how you mitigated the pressure and what you learnt from this. 


10. “What questions do you have for us?” 


The age-old question. A job interview isn’t only an opportunity for a company to see if you make a good fit, but to see if the company is a good fit for you. Use this time to ask about company culture, salary, growth opportunities and more. 


If you’re about to start a new role, we also recommend thinking about the wide range of factors that will impact your decision. Head to this blog to find out more. Good luck!