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The key to getting around tricky interview questions

The key to getting around tricky interview questions

As well as asking about your skills and experience, your interviewer is likely to ask you tricky questions to explore your personality. The aim of these is to work out whether you are a good person to work with. Here are a few questions you may come up against and ways to answer them without ruining your interview or making yourself sound like a cliché.

‘What do you dislike most about your current manager?’

This is a tricky one, especially if you find your boss difficult. It’s important that you try to give an honest answer or you will sound disingenuous, but avoid unleashing a tirade about your manager. Pick something you have found difficult, for example a lack of communication skills, which has made it harder for you to do your job at times. Explain how you have worked to overcome this, asking for greater clarity or written instructions, for example. Try not to be negative about your current boss, colleagues or role as your interviewers may question whether the problem is with them or with you.

‘How have you resolved conflict in your existing role?’

It might be that you have never experienced conflict at work, but it’s likely that you’ve had a difference of opinion with someone at some point. Explain the situation and show how you went out of your way to listen to the other person’s concerns and find a solution that you were both happy with.

‘Why hasn’t the company you work for experienced growth since you started there?’

You may wish to refute this if it’s not true and you have the figures to prove it, but if not can try to turn this question around. While your sales figures might not have increased, the company might be on the brink of a merger or be taking on new staff in a bid to grow the brand. If it hasn’t grown, you could explain that there are no progression opportunities and growth has been hampered as a result, so this is why you’re seeking another opportunity.

‘What are your weaknesses?’

This is always a difficult question, but it comes up so often it’s worth being prepared. Avoid anything too negative, but list issues you have struggled with and how you have overcome them. If you struggled with punctuality in the past, maybe you have committed to getting up half an hour earlier than you used to or even moved closer to the office so you’re never late. Or maybe you’re naturally shy but have made the effort to attend work socials so you can get to know your colleagues better.

'Have you ever failed to make an important deadline?'

Whether you have or not, tell the truth. If you have, explain the fallout and how you learnt from this. If you haven’t, explain that while you’ve come close at times you keep a detailed to do list and tick tasks off in priority order as you go along to prevent this ever happening.

Tricky questions may make your heart beat faster and cause your palms to sweat, but usually you can turn a negative question into a positive answer without straying from the truth. Remember that your interviewer isn’t looking for a perfect person – there’s no such thing – but someone who is able to learn from their mistakes and get on with people from all backgrounds.