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How to answer the top 3 toughest interview questions

It’s a new year – the perfect time to gear up for your new job. Start by getting prepared for any questions your interviewer may throw at you. Today’s post comes courtesy of Richard McMunn, founder of How2become.com – be sure to take advantage of his expert tips.

In this post, I am going to give you some excellent tips on how to answer the three toughest interview questions you are likely to be asked. Of course, the toughest interview questions and what they are is open to debate; however, in my opinion, the following three questions are most difficult, simply because they can catch you out and your answers can result in a pass or a fail:

Question 1: Do you have any weaknesses?
Question 2: Why did you leave your previous employer, or why are you leaving your present job?
Question 3: Do you have any questions for the panel?

Let’s take a look at the interview questions.

Question 1: Do you have any weaknesses?

Now this has to be, in my opinion, the toughest question to answer, because anyone who says that they have no weaknesses is clearly not telling the truth! It is important to respond with an example weakness that will not do you any harm at the interview. When responding to this question before I have tended to use a weakness that has been cleverly disguised as a strength. Here’s a sample answer to this tough interview question:

“I do have one particular weakness that I am aware of. I have very high expectations of myself and of my work colleagues. If something is not done to a good standard then I usually have to make my feelings known, which sometimes has not been taken too well by the third party. However, since realising this weakness I have taken steps to improve. I still make my feelings known but in a more pragmatic and diplomatic fashion. I don’t want to ever lose my high standards, but what I want to do is continue to work on how I deliver my opinions and feelings about standards of work. Although this can be seen as a weakness there is also a strength here because I will always give 100% in any work-related role that I carry out. In addition to this I am always looking for ways to improve myself and believe strongly in continual personal and professional development.”

Question 2: Why did you leave your previous employer, or why are you leaving your present job?

Again, this is a tough question to answer because there is absolutely no way you can take a risk of slating your current or ex-employer! Many of us want to leave a job because we either dislike our boss or work colleagues, or we are not happy with our working conditions. If this is the case with you, do not under any circumstances be disrespectful of your boss or work colleagues. Here’s a great answer to this question:

“I actually really enjoy my current job but I feel it is time for me to move on. I feel that I have learnt as much as I can in the role and I would now like to take on a new and fresh challenge. Although I have been with my current employer for some time now I do believe the time has come for a change. I have thoroughly enjoyed working in my current post but I believe the job I am applying for here will take me to a new level. I have been impressed with your organisation when carrying out my research and believe I can bring a lot to the role.”

Question 3: Do you have any questions for the panel?

Of course, you do not need to ask any questions at the end of the interview; however, I feel it is important to ask one or maybe two questions as this will show enthusiasm and a desire for the role. Here are two great questions to ask at the end of your interview:

“Whilst waiting to find out if I am successful or not, can you recommend any further reading material or resources I can take away with me to learn more about the role and the organisation?”

This response is great because it shows that you are hungry and eager to learn more!

Here’s the second question:

“If I end up working for your organisation will there be an opportunity to progress in the company once I have learnt my role and gained the necessary qualifications and experience?”

Again, this is a great response because it demonstrates that you intend staying with the company for a very long time. Most employers will be spending a lot of time, effort and resources training you up in the role. If you can demonstrate that you intend staying with them for a long period of time then this can only work to your advantage.

When responding to any type of interview question always remember to answer it with enthusiasm and passion. If you do this, regardless of how hard the questions are, you will have a far greater chance of succeeding.

h2b-logo-250x250 (1)About Richard McMunn: Richard is the founder of How2become.com, the UK’s leading training and recruitment website for public sector careers. They focus on providing students with knowledge they need to prepare for and pass selection processes for specific careers such as the police and fire service. The website currently offers over 150 different titles. You can also find How2become on Twitter.


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