Tough interview questions and how to answer them!

You can be as prepared as you like for a job interview, but sometimes an unexpected question comes out of left field and leaves you stumbling for words.

While we can’t predict exactly what an interviewer is going to ask, having answers prepared for some of the more common things is a great help. You’ll feel confident and more at ease, meaning you’ll be better able to tackle any tricky questions!

Here are five to keep an eye out for…

1. Tell me about yourself.
This is a common first question, and it’s informality can leave us feeling too at ease. The interviewer doesn’t want to know about your hobbies and family life – they just want to know what sets you apart from everyone else. Rather than rambling for five minutes and losing their attention, sell yourself with a short, concise statement that is directly related to your experience and the job you’re applying for.

2. What are your greatest strengths?
Us Irish have serious fear of talking ourselves up – it’s just not our way! But in an interview it has to be done. The key here is to focus on attributes that qualify you for the job and that are directly related to the position you’re applying for. Maybe you’re good at working under pressure or to tight deadlines, maybe you’re a great people person – whatever it is, just make sure it’s relevant!

3. What are your greatest weaknesses?
The dreaded question. The way around this one is to be honest – and strategic. Whatever weakness you mention, follow up by telling the interviewer what steps you are taking to overcome it. That way you’ll not only show yourself to be self-aware but proactive too.

4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Even if your dream in five years is to be living in a yoga retreat in India, that’s not what the interviewer wants to hear. Refer to the position and the company in your answer, for example if there are opportunities to move up within the business in a year or two, you could bring that into your response. The yoga can wait!

5. Any questions?
This is a toughie – ask the wrong question and you’ll have a black mark against you, but ask none at all and you may seem disinterested. Consider the role of the person who is interviewing you. If they’ll be your direct superior, you could ask about the team you’ll be working on, but if they’re the HR manager, you could ask for general questions about the company ethos. This is your chance to show that this is a role you’re really interested in. Avoid asking about salary – it’s a topic for the interviewer to broach, not you.