Avoiding interview hell

interview hell

  1. 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.
     
  2. 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.”
     
  3. 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.
     
  4. 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.
     
  5. 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!”
     
  6. 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.
     
  7. 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.
     
  8. 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.”
     
  9. 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”.
     
  10. 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.

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