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Answers to 9 Tough Interview Questions

​So, you got your first interview, which means your CV, experience, and skills impressed a potential employer. You must now persuade them that you are the best candidate for the position. Now what? Our expert recruiters recommend jobseekers be confident, upfront, and sincere in their responses. Tackle each question head-on using relevant examples where possible. Show enthusiasm in your responses and make sure you have prepared a few questions of your own – this will show the hiring managers that have done your research on the company and your interest in the role.

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions that interviewers will ask. Our team has come together to provide some suggestions about how to approach them:

1. What are your weaknesses?

This is always a tough one. We recommend you stay away from negative terms and try to focus on the good. For example, using the word ‘passionate’, instead of ‘stubborn’. Most importantly, show that you are self-aware enough to know where you are lacking and are working to fix it.

2. Why should we hire you?

This is an opportunity to promote yourself and your accomplishments. Keep it short, sweet, and relevant. Stay away from boastful terms, and focus on the aspects of yourself that will contribute to the role. Some examples would be, “I am a hardworking, reliable, and dedicated individual” or “I am passionate about this role and eager to contribute my skill set to your team.” Speaking about your past experience and successes in the field will give the hiring managers good insight into your background.

3. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Ensure you have prepared yourself for this question, as it shows you are forward-thinking, purposeful, and have considered your future. It is always a good idea to speak about your desire for career advancement and contributing to the company’s growth and success. Make sure you give a personal response, staying away from generic answers.

4. How do you handle the pressure?

Handling pressure is a given in any job, and similarly to answering questions about your weaknesses, try to focus on the solution and not the problem. A good answer would be, “I handle pressure by breaking down a large task into smaller, more manageable tasks”. Make sure to give an example of your previous experience and how you successfully handled the problem.

5. What are your salary expectations?

You may feel that can be an awkward question, however, try to steer away from speaking about actual numbers. A good straightforward response would be, “I am expecting a salary aligned with my experience and the duties of the role.” Quoting too much could put you outside their salary bracket, and quoting too little could put you at a disadvantage -especially if you don’t know the salary being offered.

6. What would you do if you disagreed with your boss?

Conflict resolution is a major asset when working with people. Using words such as “open-mindedness” and “listening to feedback” are good examples.

At the end of the day, it all boils down to coming to a resolution that is beneficial for both parties. Make sure you give an example if you are able to.

7. How do you handle difficult customers?

This question comes up very often in customer service positions, so be prepared to have a solid answer with a good example. You want to talk about the situation and how you solved it, confirming you ensured customer satisfaction, no matter the issue. A great example is this: “I handle difficult customers by remaining professional and courteous. I would take the time to listen to their concerns and try to find a mutually beneficial solution. I would also ensure that I followed up with them to guarantee their satisfaction.”

8. Why did you leave your last job?

All careers evolve and we all have had different experiences – some may be moving away from a toxic environment, or some may be looking for a career change. When it comes down to the interview, try to stay away from any negative response or speaking poorly of your previous company. This will put you in a bad light and potentially remove you from consideration. A direct and positive answer would be, “I left my last job because I was looking for a new challenge and the opportunity to expand my skills and experience.”

9. What are your strengths?

Similarly, to question 2, try to steer away from boasting, but rather focus on your strong assets in a meaningful way that will prove to the company you are a right fit for the role. Make sure you do some reach on strong vocabulary that will best describe you and prove relevance in the role you are applying for. Touch on the strengths that are pertinent, be it soft skills or hard skills. Always focus your responses to prove that you would be an asset to the company.

While interviews can seem like a daunting prospect, it doesn’t have to be. The way you handle the questions and the answers you provide will determine the success of your interview, so simply ensure you have done your research and be positive.