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Some of the toughest and most difficult questions an Interviewer may ask you - be prepared


Tough Interview questions

We know all interview questions are tough but these are the real hard ones. Generally these questions aren’t asked to make your life difficult or to make you squirm. They are simply asked so that the interviewer can find out what he wants to know in the best possible way. When you are posed with a difficult question which you find awkward to answer, it puts you under pressure. Therefore there may be certain questions that are delivered to you to see how well you cope. It not unreasonable if the new job you are applying for is likely to carry an element of pressure. Just remember there is no need to get worked up or frightened. As I keep saying, if you have done your research and prepared properly for the interview these questions won’t be half as difficult as you think. When a question is posed to you try and keep calm. Think about the question for a few moments and deliver your answer accordingly. So here we go!


Are You A Good Leader?

 
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Your interviewer is looking to ascertain whether you can manage or lead well in your job and how you deal with the people who work under you. Perhaps you could answer this question along the lines of “I feel that my team leading qualities are exceptional. I am always firm but fair with the people who work for me and find that I get a good deal of respect by operating in this manner”.


How Do You Feel About Taking Direction From Your Superiors?


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This is a very valid question from any potential employer. If you have a boss who is delegating work to you they will want to know that you are able to deal with their requests and execute them in the manner dictated. You will therefore want to be answering this question along the lines of “I take direction from my superiors well. After all no team can work properly unless they are able to accept instructions from their superior”.


How Do You Feel About Carrying Out Mundane or Repetitive Work?


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Nearly every job carries an element of routine to it so this could well be a frequently asked “difficult” question. The answer could be something like “I understand all jobs have some element of repetitiveness but I take all aspects of my job seriously regardless of whether they are mundane or not. I always give 100% to my job”.


Are You A Natural Born Leader?


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Some of us are natural born leaders and they are usually the people heading up teams or managing departments. Natural born leaders are chosen for the role of management or leadership because of their ability to guide and deal with people. They are people who possess enthusiasm, confidence and good leadership qualities. Try and build something into your answer that shows these qualities. It hasn’t necessarily got to include areas of your work life however it’s better if it does. You could use an example of something in your personal life such as being “head of the local under 16’s football team” or “head of your local cricket team” but whatever you choose try and say something that makes your leadership qualities stand out.


How Well Do You Handle Criticism?


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Everyone gets criticised in the job they do at some point in their career. Whether you feel that the criticism is right or wrong there are always two sides to every situation. An ideal answer to this question might be “We all at some point make mistakes and I am more than happy to take on board any constructive criticism that is given to me as it helps me understand and learn from the situation”.


How Well Do You Work Within A Team Environment?


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Teamwork is very important to an employer. A properly functioning team will create a happy workplace and smooth, efficient production regardless of the product or service involved. Everyone has a different approach to how they deal with their colleagues so you will need to tailor the answer to this question to your own approach. Perhaps you could offer an answer like “I really enjoy working as a member of a team. There is a feeling of comradeship in that we are all working towards the same goal. When we meet our objective we all benefit from the feeling of success”.


What Motivates You?


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Your interviewer is not looking for an answer along the lines of “£ 100,000 per year and a yacht”. Let’s face it that’s what we would all like! Try and give a constructive answer such as “I get a real kick out of completing a project. This drives me along the way and I get satisfaction at each stage knowing that I will have made a contribution to the end result”.


Are You Good At Getting The Best Out Of Your Team?


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An interviewer asking this question is looking for an answer that shows how you manage and run your team in order to achieve the best performance from them. Your answer should include areas that show your leadership qualities and how they benefit the people that work for you, such as communication skills and praise.


You Have Only Been With Your Employer A Very Short Time - Why?


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As I have mentioned before the recruitment process is a long and expensive one. Where recruitment agencies are used to source candidates, their fee may be as much as 30% of your first years annual package, let alone the costs associated with any additional training you may need. The last thing an employer wants to do is employ a candidate who is only going to work for them for five minutes and then look for another job! If you have been with previous employer for a short period of time then you need to find an answer that is going to reassure the interviewer’s doubts and put his mind at rest. It is possible in this situation that you could use a line such as “Yes I have only been with my existing employer a relatively short period of time but have found that I have to move to gain more experience and enhance my career. I think that this can be achieved within your organisation and I feel that I am ready to settle down in a position I am comfortable with for a long period of time”.


How Do You Deal With Interpersonal Problems Within Your Team?


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Nothing runs smoothly all the while and from time to time there will be disputes amongst members of your team. Obviously your answer will probably come from your own experience here, but areas such as being fair by hearing both sides of the dispute, dealing with the problem in private, not causing embarrassment in front of others and looking for a compromise between the individuals may all come into play.


How Would Your Current Boss Describe You?


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“You’re useless and should look for another job before I fire you!!” Just kidding (or maybe not in some cases). Remember at some point in the future the man or woman sitting in the chair opposite you could well be your future employer. When you answer this question provide an answer in a way that you think you would like your boss to actually think of you. So perhaps you can say something like “I get on very well with my boss and we have an excellent working relationship. I think that the reason is due to the fact that we have mutual respect for each other. My boss considers me as a hard working, loyal and efficient employee who is able to work well using my own initiative. He can trust me to carry out the work given to me without having to bother him”. It’s not a terribly good idea to blatantly lie about your relationship with your boss. If it’s horrendous it may come out in references that are taken later. However, under employment law past employers have to be very careful how they word references and are not allowed to tear your personality apart!


What Part Of Your Job Do You Dislike The Most?


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Well the answer to this can’t be “I am completely happy with my job and I enjoy every aspect of it. It fills my daily working hours with joy and happiness. I just wish I could do it 24 hours a day 365 days a year”. Why not? Because you wouldn’t be applying for this job if that was the truth would you? Don’t give answers that are purely motivated by money and benefits, even if that is the case. You might genuinely love your job but the money is no good. That isn’t what the interviewer wants to hear. Perhaps you could use a line like “I really do enjoy my current job and quite frankly there aren’t really any areas that I can say I dislike. However, the company I work for is small and I don’t get much chance to deal with new business very often. This is an area I find exciting and feel that this job would be able to offer me that opportunity”. Of course there may be an area you do dislike in your job but if you decide to bring it up then try and create a positive out of it. For example “I used to find doing my filing at the end of the day a bit time consuming as I would always get distracted by more important issues to deal with. Then I decided that I would come in a bit earlier each morning to deal with this enabling me to start the day fresh and be left with a bit of spare time at the end of each day should something really important come up”.


If You Were Starting Out Again In Your Career Are There Any Decisions You Would Make Differently?


This is a nonsense question really. No one can turn back the clock so it’s completely irrelevant, but one some interviewers like to pose. The only answer I can think of giving is “I wouldn’t change anything. I have been more than happy with all of the decisions I have made in my career and don’t feel that I would gain any benefit out of looking back and analysing something I cannot change”.


You Have Been With Your Employer A Long Time - Why?


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To be honest I think this question is a bit unfair. There could be many reasons why you have shown loyalty to your existing employer for a lengthy period of time. It might be that you just liked your job and the people you have worked for but circumstances have changed or, that you have had a wide and varied career working in different parts of the company doing different job roles. You may have worked overseas for the same company. People don’t generally stay with the same employer in this day and age predominantly because it isn’t always easy to get promoted internally. This could look to an interviewer like you have been unable to get another job. Of course this probably isn’t the case so build your answer around the facts.


Do You Feel That Your Career Has Been A Success To Date?


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Again, another no brainer question that really has no bearing on whether you are capable of doing the job you are applying for or whether you are even the right person for it. Success can only really be measured by the person who it applies to. What one person thinks is successful another may not. I genuinely feel that very few people actually think their career has been a failure. The only way to address this question is to say “I feel that I have been successful to date and I am more than happy with my career progression. I have always put emphasis on enjoying the job I do and not how much it pays or what benefits I can gain from it. So far I have found that this strategy has worked well for me”.


We Think You Might Be Overqualified For This Job!


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If you were overqualified for this job would you be applying for it? Well I guess in an interviewers mind it could be that you are desperate, or it may be that you are desperate! A future employer doesn’t want to think he is going to take you on if you are going to get bored in five minutes because the job is too easy and then start looking elsewhere again. This is a difficult question to answer but you could intimate that you have a very low boredom threshold and that everything you do, you do to the best of your ability.


If You Were Appointed To This Position How Long Would It Be Before You Would Expect To Be Promoted?


Let’s face it; most of us want promotion as soon as possible. Promotion usually leads to more money and better employment benefits (of course it also usually entails more work and stress) but you should consider your answer to this question carefully. If you answer “I’d expect promotion within 12 months of being appointed” you allocate a timescale which may not be acceptable to your future employer. They may not be looking to promote you for a good few years and may feel that you would become despondent and leave if you didn’t achieve your goal. In all honesty the right kind of answer to this question is going to be something like “I couldn’t give a time by which I would expect to be promoted. I would need to prove myself to the company in terms of my ability, leadership skills and the experience that I would bring to the business. I feel that promotion is a reward, not a right and as with all rewards I am a great believer in that you have to earn them”.


How Have You Managed To Attend This Interview In Works Time?


Another naughty question often posed by interviewers but at the same time it does bear some relevance. If you are attending an interview when you would normally expect to be in work then your potential employer wants to know what type of excuse you have come up with to your existing employer. Really this is a question of honesty and the reality is that you won’t have asked your existing boss for time off to attend an interview for another job. It may well be that you have taken the time off by telling your boss that you have had to take your pet anaconda to the vets or you might have thrown a sicky but that isn’t what your future employer wants to hear. One straight forward answer to this question is “I have taken some holiday to take part in this interview”. If you are feeling really clever and you want to impress your interviewer you could say “Unfortunately I didn’t have any holiday left so I asked my employer if I could take a day of unpaid leave because I had a personal issue I needed to deal with. I preferred to take that action as I don’t feel it fair on my existing employer to attend this interview whilst he was paying me. I do not think it’s right to cheat”.


You Have Read The Job Description And A Summary Of The Job Role So What Areas Of This Job Appeal To You The Least?


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Hmm….It’s a nasty one this isn’t it! At this point in your interview you don’t want to go and start making out that there is anything at all that you don’t fancy doing in this new job. I am not one for one sentence answers but if you get this one dropped on you I think it’s good to get off the subject as quickly as possible and use the damage limitation technique. I think a simple “Having reviewed the job summary and description I have to say that I can’t find anything that doesn’t appeal to me in this job at all”. If you do find something about the job that looks less than appealing make sure it isn’t a major part of role and if you can’t find any way of turning the duty from a negative to a positive leave it well alone.


What Sort Of People Do You Find It Difficult To Work With?


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There’s always someone in the office that doesn’t work with the team and the rest end up carrying them, but that’s life at the end of the day. It’s up to your boss to sort that problem out. This often causes bad feeling amongst the team and irritates the other members. However, when you are attending an interview you really don’t want to be seen to be moaning about individuals in your current organisation. The easiest way to deal with this question is to give your answer based on the fact that although you are very amenable and easy to get on with, you are very much a team player so the most difficult people you find to work with are the ones that do not carry the same high standards in their work as you do.


Have You Attended Other Interviews As Well As This One?


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This is a great question and one that you can manipulate to your advantage. If the interviewer thinks that one of their competitors is after you it makes you a much better catch to them. You have to remember many, but not all, employers are like sheep and the bigger the company the more likely it will be that they are after a stereotypical candidate. One that’s just a little bit better than the last. If you give the impression that you are talking to other firms as well and that you have made the last batch of interviews with them, you are going to be a far more attractive prospect. So whether you are or are not talking to other companies make sure you give the impression that you are in demand.


What Do You Think About The Conflict In Iraq, The Credit Crunch, Barack Obama (or something that has a social political bearing)


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The idea behind this question is for your interviewer to see if you take an interest in what goes on in the world, current affairs and so on and to show that your interest in the world doesn’t stop when you shut your front door at night. Your answer is likely to give your interviewer an insight into your values whether they be moral or otherwise and how you address life itself. Politically correct answers aren’t always the right ones. What you need to do is show the interviewer that you have the ability to see and recognise all sides of a debate. That you don’t see things simply in black and white and that you have the ability to debate a subject properly, At the same time you need to show that you are open minded enough to form your own opinion on a subject. What you don’t want to do is jump on your high horse and fire off your own political views. This type of question can be particularly relevant to certain industries. For example, if you are applying to work for an oil company you may be asked your opinion on global warming and whether the work green peace does is right or wrong. Alternatively if you are applying for a job working for a company that manufactures make up you may be asked for your views on whether the work that animal rights campaigners carry out is justified: you get the picture?


What Sort Of Decisions Do You Find The Most Difficult To Make?


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“Should I have prawn or beef sandwiches for lunch!” or “Should I buy the 28 or 32 inch flat screen TV”. Most of us at some point have had to make difficult decisions whether in our personal or work lives. If you have ever had to fire someone or make them redundant it’s not a nice decision to make, or job to carry out for that matter. This is not from the point of view that you don’t really like the person, but most people have a conscience and realise that if they take away a person’s job it will have a direct impact on their whole life. This is therefore a good example to use as an answer to this question.


What Is Your Current Bosses Biggest Weakness?


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Wouldn’t you just love to say it; “Lunchtime Binge Drinking”. You must remember regardless of what an idiot you think your boss is; the person that is sitting in front of you may one day be the same boss you are criticizing. Anyway it wouldn’t achieve anything and would only make you look cheap. So if you get this one thrown at you why not try something like “My boss is great really and we get on very well. He is good at his job, one which he wouldn’t have got in the first place if he wasn’t. I respect him for that. I am sure he may have weaknesses but I have to say that if he has I haven’t picked up on them”.


What Do You Think Of Your Existing Company?


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Now you might think that your existing company is a cheap skate, runs old machinery, never wants to invest in the plant or the future of the business, use every spare amount of cash they have to improve the cars parked in the Directors car park and so on. However that just isn’t the right answer! Your standard response to a question such as this should be that you have really enjoyed working for your current company and that you are thankful for the opportunities, training and career progression that they have afforded you to date.


What Is Your Current Salary?


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It’s a bit of a cheeky question this one and you want to give a non committal answer. You must try and remember that all companies want to save as much money on salaries as they can and if you are offered the job the chances are they are going to indicate a package either similar or slightly more than the one you’re on. If you go straight in with “I earn £ 23,000.00 plus expenses plus a car and free weekend tickets to the Manchester United games” you are setting a bench mark that you may find difficult to negotiate around. Therefore an appropriate answer to this interview question might be “it’s not really the salary that is important to me it’s the whole package that I would be more interested in”. By saying this you are being non committal and it will make negotiating an acceptable package far easier


What Salary Would You Be Expecting For This Position?


Again another cheeky one which, ideally, you don’t want to be too committal over. If you commit to a salary at this stage you won’t be able to negotiate later on and if you ask for too much they will think they can’t afford you. If you don’t know what level of salary a position pays you can do some research on the internet. There are several sites that collect data about average industry and job role remunerations. So you could ask the interviewer a question in response to his question such as “What level of salary would you be expecting to pay for this position?” If the interviewer doesn’t want to divulge this then it’s not unreasonable for you to decline to answer too. If your interviewer quotes you a salary of say £ 19,000 then try and come back with something like “Well I was looking for a salary in the region of £ 22,000 to £ 24,000”. Your employer will always start with their bottom figure first so by asking for a little more it sets you a slightly higher bench mark. It may be that your interviewer can only go to the level he quotes but it’s fairly unlikely.


I have A Pen Here – Sell It Me!


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I’ve been on loads of sales courses and this has always been a question posed to me to see how good I am at selling the benefits of a product, not just the product itself. This is an interesting question and some employers will ask you to do this even if you aren’t applying for a job that involves selling. As I have said the reason behind this is to see if you can sell the benefits of the pen rather than the object itself. For example as a pen itself: it is just a biro with a roller ball and plastic coating. However, its benefits would be: it’s a biro and the roller ball is really smooth and gives excellent presentation. It is leak proof and slim and sits discretely in your pocket. This is all about the bigger picture. If you are able to outline the benefits of the pen you will impress your interviewer. Obviously if you are applying for a sales role the chances are your interviewer will definitely ask you this question. However, it might not necessarily be a pen. It could be something else sitting on your interviewer’s desk.


How Well Do You Work In A Stressful Environment?


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Most jobs carry an element of stress whether it’s working to very tight deadlines or handling lots of different projects and having to manage your time effectively. Your answer to this question should encompass examples of situations where you have operated well under stress and also point out that you get a buzz out of a working in stressful environment as it keeps you mind focused and it assists you in your performance.

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Quick Jump ...

  1. Preparing For The Interview
  2. How To Prepare
  3. First Impressions
  4. During An Interview - Coping With Nerves
  5. During An Interview - Projecting The Right Image
  6. The Interview
  7. The Most Popular Interview Questions
  8. The Tough Interview Questions
  9. Your Questions For The Interviewer
  10. Psychometric Testing
  11. Assessment Centers
  12. Second Interviews
  13. What To Do While Your Waiting To Hear
  14. What To Do If You Get The Job
 
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