Interview Preparation - Part 3b

Apr 16, 2018

Part 3b - Awkward Interview Questions:

There are often very good reasons for, what many candidates feel are, awkward interview questions, think about it from the interviewer’s point of view, what are they trying to uncover?


1: What are your weaknesses?

No-one is perfect!

It does not have to be a huge character floor, but we all have to try a little harder than others in some aspects of our work.  Be honest, the employer is looking to see (a) if you are self-aware (b) how you overcome difficulties (c) if there are training or personal development opportunities. 

This is not an attempt to catch you out, they are looking for a solution-based answer.

Have you thought about any weaknesses you may have?  If not, do so now before you have to assess these in an interview situation.  If you are finding it difficult, think about previous colleagues, what were they particularly good at and poor at, make a list and then consider which of those traits you identify with.

Once you’ve done this, how do you minimise the impact at work, you possibly do this subconsciously.  By doing this you can answer the question and portray yourself in a positive light.


3: What are your strengths?

A similar question would be “What do you think you can offer this company?”  or “Why should we employ you, rather than one of the other candidates?” 

This is your time to shine.

If the job description comes with a person specification, detailing what they are looking for from a candidate, then half of your preparation work is done, identify which aspects you are best at and provide examples.

If you don’t have a person specification then research the company, what do they say about their employees, what values does the organisation have, use this as a guide to choose which of your talents you focus on.

You got the interview because your CV showed that you have the practical experience to meet the employer’s needs, now is the time to go into more detail about the personality traits and the skills you have developed which make you the best person for this role.


4: Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?

Someone thought up this question years ago and it has since become established as a ‘standard’ interview question.  What the employer is hoping to establish is your degree of ambition for career progression.  Always answer in general terms, who knows what the future will bring, and definitely avoid staking a claim for the interviewer’s job.

This question is important for both parties, not every role can offer progression and development, and therefore not every employer is looking for this, so be honest about what you want from a job.  It is better for both parties to establish if the role, and the employer’s expectations, will change or stay the same over the next few years, and if there is anticipated change, will you be comfortable with that?

Above all, ensure that during your interview preparation you have established what your own expectations are, as well as those of the employer.