Avoiding interview hell
Published: 11 Dec 2017
- If they do ask you to tell them a story, they probably don’t want Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Have something in your mind that is work related or an interesting anecdote about your personal life.
- Job hoppers. If you haven’t stayed in a job long enough to get your seat warm, the interviewer will be concerned. “I had to change jobs to gain a fresh challenge” is a good response. Go on to say “I’m looking to settle in a company dynamic enough to keep me challenged.”
- Describe a difficult situation that you could have handled better. Criticising yourself is never going to be easy. The trick here is to use an example from a few years ago where the way you acted was forced upon you, such as “I had to change the deadline because our budget had been cut”. Everyone makes mistakes – the important thing is to emphasise what you learnt from it.
- What is your present boss’s greatest weakness? Even if you work for a total Basil Fawlty, saying “far too many to mention” doesn’t look good. Go for something like “They are good at their job; I’d be splitting hairs if I criticised them.” Being negative doesn’t look great – the person you’re talking to may be your next boss.
- Sell me this paperclip! A total bolt out of the blue and the sort of question that some interviewers use to put you on the spot. Avoid describing the product – just stick to its benefits: “It’s strong and lightweight.” Maybe even throw in a joke at the end: “There’s a discount if you take 10,000!”
- I think you’re overqualified for this job. Oh dear, looks like those four Masters degrees weren’t a good idea after all. Basically, they’re worried you’ll get bored and leave. If you do really want the position despite being overqualified, say something along the lines that you’re sure a dynamic company like this will be able to keep you challenged and interested.
- Why haven’t you found a job yet? Avoid telling them you’ve spent all summer on the beach. Try saying: “It’s important that I accept a job in a company that’s right for me and where I can make a contribution.” Let them know if you have turned down unsuitable offers.
- What do you dislike most at work? Of course you live for work, but they don’t know that yet. Avoid anything specific. Turn it into a positive and say: “I dislike not having enough to do or not being challenged.”
- What motivates you? Your interviewer is not looking for an answer along the lines of “£100,000 per year and a Bentley Turbo!” Try to give a constructive answer, such as “I get a real kick out of completing a project” or “I get satisfaction at each stage of the project, knowing I will have made a contribution to the end result”.
- Draw up a list of tough questions. List the scariest questions you can imagine – or ones you or friends/ colleagues have been asked. Jot down suitable answers and memorise them, so that you’ll be prepared.