[Part 1] Toughest Interview Questions

1) “Tell me about yourself”?

This is one question that you are sure that you will likely be asked regardless of the position that you are applying for. This question can take different forms like; can I meet you? Who are you? Can we know you? You don’t need to be confused they all mean the same thing.

As simple as the question looks, it could also be very tricky. Be careful not to give unnecessary personal details about yourself. All the recruiter wants to know is who you are and how you fit into the role and the company’s vision and work environment.

Be careful to frame your response around what makes you the best fit for the role. You might be tempted to talk about all the good stuff, but you will need to keep it concise and relevant.

These statements will guide your response to the question;

  • Talk about who you are professionally
  • Highlight your competencies
  • Talk about why you are here

For instance, if you are applying for the role of a customer service manager, then you can answer the question in response to the statements above;

Sample Answer:

“I am an innovative customer service manager with 6 years of experience managing and monitoring all the aspects of the customer service function-from solving customer’s problems to ensuring customer retention to increasing sales. (Who you are)

I have spent 6 years developing my skills as a customer service manager. I have been able to attract recognition and several awards even national awards 3 times. I love solving customer problems and overseeing my team members do so too. (Competence highlights)

Even if I love my current position, I know that I am ready to take up a more challenging role in

You can see that the answer responded to the three statements that we made earlier. You can use the statements to frame your own answer too.

Never give this kind of answer;

“My name is Daniel Peters, I am from Delta State, and I attended St. Johns primary school after which I went to Methodist Boys School. After my secondary education, I gained admission into the University of Lagos. I am from a family of 6, my parents are very poor, and so I need this job so that I can take care of my siblings …”.

2) What are your strengths?

This question could be really confusing and hard to crack most times because you are asked to talk about your strong points. It is quite normal for you to feel awkward talking about your strengths without bragging.

Well, to answer this question effectively, you will have to follow some of these formulas;

  • Assess your hard skills
  • Assess your transferable skills
  • Assess your personal traits

When you are assessing these skills, make sure they are closely related and relevant to the position that you are applying for. When you are answering this question, try and stay away from personal qualities and concentrate more on professional traits.

As simple as the question looks, it is also very possible for you to mess the whole interview up especially if you have not taken out the time to discover yourself to know your strengths, and how to properly communicate them to the recruiter.

You should also be able to accurately choose strengths that will help you perform the task well if you are offered the job. It means that you should not have a one fits all answer to this question.

When answering this question, remember that the recruiter is looking for a good fit, and at the same time trying to form a picture of you based on your response, and make sure your strengths are real strengths that will add value to the company. See the sample answer to help frame your answer;

Sample Answer:

If you are applying for the position of customer service manager, this is what your response will look like:

My strength is my patience in solving problems (Assess your hard skills).

In my current position as a customer service manager, I was patient (Personal trait) enough to turn a toxic work environment into a positive one, and created a motivating environment where everyone can work comfortably.

I also feel that my communication skills (transferable skills) are top-level because I relate with senior executives on the same basis that I relate with junior staff members.”

This answers the question well to a large extent because the answer highlights the strengths that are relevant to that particular position. The candidate did not give a well-rehearsed answer but also gave a real-life instance that makes it more detailed.

3) Can tell us about your weaknesses?

This may sound like the trickiest question that a recruiter can ever ask. It may feel really awkward for you to talk about your weakness during a job interview when you are supposed to be pitching yourself.

The confusing part of the whole question is how to actually talk about your weakness, but not make it a big threat to the role that you are applying for.

When recruiters ask this question, they are not very much concerned about the answer, but they are more concerned about how you answer the question. Many candidates tend to lie about their weaknesses, it is not advisable for you to lie about your weakness even if you should put it in a subtle manner.

When you are answering questions about your weakness, you should be careful not to give cliché answers that are not close to being your weakness at all. Answers like “My greatest weakness is that I am so much of a perfectionist, I love everything to be organized and orderly at all the times.

This answer looks perfect, but this is a common cliché that sounds really unrealistic and doesn’t reflect a true weakness at all. This statement will guide you to answer this question well:

  • Be self-aware: To answer this question well, you have to be self-aware to recognize your real weakness. Be careful when choosing a weakness so that it does not affect you getting the job.
  • Be truthful: As much as you want to give a piece of information that will not affect the job, you should also be sure that you are talking about a real weakness.
  • Self-improvement/recovery: After telling the recruiter about your weakness, you should also state the effort that you are putting in to manage the weakness that you stated.

Sample Answers:

Sample 1:

“I am really impatient working in a team (self-awareness)-I love to work independently and so it is difficult for me to rely on others to complete a task. That is why I have pursued a position that makes it possible for me to work independently (be truthful). However, I have also worked to improve this weakness by enrolling in team-building workshops. While I work independently, it is important I learn how to trust my co-workers better.” (Self-improvement/recovery).

Sample 2:

“Public speaking makes me really nervous (self-awareness). Even if I don’t have to do too much of public in my role as a graphic designer, I nonetheless feel it is an important skill I have to get used when communicating with others. (Truthful)

To overcome the fright, I spoke to my manager that I would love to give the introductory speech during our team meetings. This has allowed me to be less nervous speaking to a group of people and has also helped me communicate better with team members to do their jobs effectively. (Self-improvement/recovery)

This answer works well because the candidate mentions a real weakness that does not affect the candidate’s ability to do the job. Secondly, the candidate shows an eagerness to develop strategies to tackle the weakness.

4) Why are you leaving your current job?

This is one question that can throw a job-seeker off the balance if the person is not very prepared for the question. Many times job-seekers sincerely leave their current jobs because they want to get a better offer, but that is not what you will want to tell your prospective employer.

This question could be really tricky because you don’t want to say that you are leaving your current job because you want a better offer and sound like a “gold digger” that will still leave you in search of a better offer somewhere else.

To tackle this question, you would need to give an answer that is closely related to your wanting to move forward in your career. No one would frown at anyone’s attempt to wanting to move forward in their career. You have to be careful not to emit “negative vibes” when answering the question.

You can take a look at these sample reasons that are easy to explain;

  • Desire to improve work/life balance.
  • Your wish to learn
  • You yearn to take on more responsibility
  • Your wish to take on less responsibility
  • Wanting to relocate
  • A desire for a career change.
  • A desire for career growth and development
  • No longer interested in the company’s vision and goal.
  • A desire for a shorter commute to work.

To answer this question, you should not just throw the answer at the recruiter, you should take time to make sure you are giving the right answer to the question. You can use this opportunity to talk about your interest in the new position that you are applying for and not talk despairingly about your current employer.

Don’t be negative about your current employer, rather you should focus on what the new position will afford you (career-wise). If you speak poorly of your boss during an interview, what proof does the potential employer have that you wouldn’t say the same thing about them in another environment?

Always avoid answers that relate to compensation, company finance, or poor management. You should always stay positive regardless.

Sample Answers:

“I have really learned a lot working with an amazing group of people in my current employment, but this opportunity fits very well with the direction I want to take in my career path.”

“I have acquired great experience in my current job, but due to the size of the organization growth is limited. So for me to continue to grow, I need to go somewhere else, and working in this company will avail me the opportunity to grow in my career.”

Remember to be positive and frame your answers around the organization you wish to work for.

5. Why should we hire you?

Most times when recruiters ask this question, job-seekers are mostly thrown out of balance. Most times it is like putting the job-seeker in the position of the recruiter. This question will make many job-seekers ask themselves this question; “If I were the employer, why would I hire myself?”

Often times when recruiters ask “Why should we hire you?” they indirectly want to know why you are the best fit for the job.

As straightforward as the question may look, you still have to be very careful when answering the question. Don’t be in a hurry to throw the answer back at the recruiter, you might end up giving a negative impression about yourself.

You should always avoid answers like:

“You should hire me because I know you urgently need someone to fill this position, and I think I can do the job”.

It is very important for you to take your time to think of a concise and effective answer to this question. Before you attempt to answer the question, you should know;

  • Why do recruiters ask why should we hire you?
    • how to answer the question
    • The response to give

Why do recruiters ask “Why should we hire you?”

Job seekers may feel that recruiters ask this question just to make them feel uncomfortable, but that is not the case. Recruiters ask this question because they want to know why you are the best fit for the job.

Recruiters simply want to know how you fit into the position they are recruiting for.

How to answer the “why should I hire you question?”

Since the whole interview boils down to this one question, then it is worth preparing for. You should always understand that the interviewer wants to know how you fit into the position. Make sure your response clearly states why you are the best person for the position.

The best response to give

Since every hire is a risk to the recruiter, then you should be ready to prove to the recruiter that;

  1. You can perform the task excellently
  2. You will perfectly fit into the position and be a great addition to the team
  3. You possess the right skills and experiences that make you stand out from other candidates
  4. Hiring you will add a great deal of value to the company.

Sample Answers:

If you are applying for a marketing role;

“From your job advert, I understand that your company is looking for an experienced marketer that will grow the business and help the company stand out from its competitors. At my previous company, I increased sales by 30% within the space of one year by devising a targeted social media advertising strategy. I will definitely bring that spirit of ownership and innovation to this company if I am given the opportunity.”

If you are applying for the role of web developer;

“I believe that my experience in technology, specifically in web design makes me the best person for this position. In my previous job, I was responsible for updating the company’s website. This required me to always make sure everything goes on well on the web page, update employee profile, and ensure proper content upload on the site. I enjoyed the role, which was what attracted me to this company, I would love to bring in my skills to this position”.

How to answer the question if you are a fresh graduate with no work experience:

Getting your first job after graduation may not be as hard as you may think. It is true that employers are about getting the right talent to fill their positions, but being a fresh graduate is not a disadvantage if you prepare well for the interview.

If this question comes up in an interview, chances are it will be the only valuable opportunity for you to prove that you are the best candidate for the job.

Remember to stay away from answers that will remind the employer that you have no experience and are probably not a good fit. Answers like:

“You know it is really hard to find a job especially when you have no experience, I don’t want to stay idle, and I want something that will keep me busy”

This kind of response doesn’t show the employer that you have a special interest in the job and the company at all, and you have also succeeded in reminding the employer that you don’t have any experience.

Instead of answering like that, you can phrase your answer in such a way that it will show your interest in that particular position, your enthusiasm to be a part of the organization, your interest in learning and development, and your vision to contribute to the overall growth of the company.

Your response should look like this:

“I am a very driven and open-minded person that can really learn fast. During my volunteer with a local retail outlet, I discovered how much I enjoyed solving customers’ problems and rendering service in general. Looking at the job description and what I have learned from the interview, I think this position will support my interest and will also give me the opportunity to contribute positively to the organization, and am very excited about this opportunity”.

This kind of answer will give the employer an idea that you are passionate about the position, and a passionate person is someone that can learn fast. Every employer would love to hire someone with the right spirit.

Leave a Comment