[Part 2] Toughest Interview Questions

6) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This is one question that employers use to trap you in a corner and you may not even recognize it at all. Employers don’t just ask this question because they are really interested in what you want to do with your life in 5 years’ time. Employers ask this question for two reasons:

  • The employer wants to know how long you plan to stay in the position.
  • The employer wants to know if your vision aligns with that of the company.

As much as the employer wants to know your plan for the position and the company, it could be tempting for you to pour out your sincere intentions, but saying it out like that may not be the best approach to the question.

This is the response that your mind will likely prompt you to give, and it is probably what the interviewer doesn’t want to hear:

  1. Plans about how you would love to take the position of the hiring manager in 5 years.
  2. Strategies about how you would be promoted in a few years.
  3. Your aspiration about owning your own business in a few years
  4. A straight “I don’t know”, “I don’t have any plans for the future, I just want a job now”

I know you would be anxious to ask “Then what does the recruiter want to hear?” You should never forget that the business of a recruiter is that he wants to get the right candidate that would stay and grow in the position.

So when recruiters ask “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” they simply want to know your career goals within the position.

The hiring manager is interested in knowing how satisfied you are with the position and the company and how hard and long you are willing to grow and stay in the company.

Sample Answers

This is how your answer should look like:

“In 5 years, I would love to complete my internal and external training program for my position. I have read about it on your website, and I think it is an amazing opportunity for me to learn. I don’t only look forward to getting the right training for my role, but it will quicken my journey to becoming a marketing manager which is my career goal. My ideal track would be creating awareness in rural areas. I learned that getting your product to rural places is of great value to you.”

Answering the question like this expresses two things to the employer:

  1. With this answer, you have given the hiring manager the impression that you are satisfied with the position, and also enthusiastic about developing in the position.
  2. This answer also shows that your personal career goals align with the company’s vision.

More responses

I am propelled to be the best at what I do, and I want to work in an organization that will give me the opportunity to develop my skills, handle interesting projects, and be part of a team that I can really learn from. A good number of creative thinkers in the industry work here, and that is a big reason why I would love to build a career here”.

My current goal is to fit into a position at a company where I can grow and take on new challenges and responsibilities over time. Moving forward, I would love to assume management responsibility and get involved in pushing the brand. Ultimately, I would love to be a part of an organization where I can build a career”.

Since this question is very tricky, it is very important for you to be careful not to just speak out words that come to your mind immediately after the recruiter asked the question. Be careful not to give answers like: “I have never settled for less all my life, so in 5 years’ time I would be working my way through to becoming the CEO”.

See the preparations you should make before attempting to answer the question:

  • Know the long-term goals that can grow from the position.
  • Do good research on the company and the position to know; the career path for the position, research if there are development opportunities, if there are interesting projects that you would love to be a part of, and finally if you share the same values with the organization.

Always keep these in mind when you are answering this question:

  • No recruiter sincerely cares about what you want to do with your life in the next 5 years, and they don’t expect you to have the exact picture of where you are going to be in 5 years.
  • Recruiters ask this question because they look forward to getting a hire that would take the role seriously.
  • Recruiter wants to find out if you would be available for a long time to do the work.
  • In all sincerity, all a recruiter wants to hear when they ask “where do you see yourself in 5 years is “HERE”. As funny as this may sound, this is the truth, employers look forward to getting someone that would love to build their career in the company.

7) Why are you leaving your current job?

This question could be a really tempting question especially if you are applying for a new position. This question could tempt you to talk about any negative experience that was associated with your past role.

As tempted as you may be to expel negativity, you still have to be very careful not to go on about how terrible you felt in your previous position, you should rather concentrate on things that make this position the best fit for you.

You should always open doors to discussions that emphasize how the position is a perfect position for you.

Whether you were asked to leave or you willingly resigned, it is important for you to frame your answer in such a way that it casts you in a positive light. Be careful and make sure you avoid “bad-mouthing” your previous employer.

You should never make statements like; My boss is an oppressor, he loves to set unrealistic targets and unnecessary work achievement that sets employees against one another”.

Even if your boss is not a model, it is not useful to talk about that in an interview. Imagine that the recruiter is a friend to your previous boss, what do you think would happen after the interview?

Giving a negative answer doesn’t tell well of you to the recruiter, so you need to be neutral and leave your boss out of the conversation.

You should rather focus on the reasons why you want to take up the new role. For example;

My current job puts a lot of focus on collaborative achievement, but I look forward to working in an environment that encourages personal growth and development. I would love to be able to measure my career growth and be open to dealing with bigger challenges. This is a better response

See why interviewers ask this question:

Your reasons for leaving your current job are always very important to the recruiter because the recruiter wants to find out the following:

  • If you left your job for a good reason
  • If you were fired or if you left voluntarily
  • Did you leave on agreed or good terms
  • What are your work values and successes are

It could be really confusing to answer this question well especially if you were fired. If you were fired there is really no point for you to develop goosebumps and run away from answering the question. Even if you were fired, you should still focus on the positive side and be careful not to give off negative energy about your current employer.

This is how your response should look like if you were fired:

If losing the job was not directly your fault and not a result of poor performance, then you can frame your answers like this:

Our biggest clients were leaving the market, and so my company was forced to dissolve some positions unfortunately my position happened to be one of the newest positions that were created in the department at that time, and it was dissolved. I am extremely happy about my stay in my previous employment because I did learn a lot that will help me propel my career to the next level

See what you have achieved by answering this question like this:

  • You have made the recruiter understand that losing your job was not your fault, it happened as a result of an unforeseen event and it can happen to anybody.
  • You made the recruiter understand that you have a positive mindset about learning and development.

If you were fired due to low performance, then your answer can look like this:

“The management of my previous organization experienced a reformation, and I was assigned a new line manager. Working with the new manager, after a while it became obvious to me that my new manager had expectations that did not match up with my strength.

After a while, my manager recommended that he brings in someone he had worked with that had a better experience both local and international, and I was replaced.

I learned that my strongest strengths were in customer service rather than project management. I know that my skills in customer service will be of great asset to a role like this that focuses on improving customer experience”.

This answer is great because the candidate sounds neutral and the situation is described without a form of negativity. The candidate also keeps a positive tone and draws the recruiter’s attention to the lesson learned and his strength.

This question is very sensitive, and as such should be treated as one.

8) Have you ever been forced to resign?

During an interview, it is quite normal for the recruiter to bring up discussions about your previous employment.

One question that the recruiter may likely ask you is if you have ever been forced to resign. The interviewer will likely use your response to the question to know the kind of issue that may likely arise if the company hires you.

The recruiter may also judge your ability to learn from the situation and how much you are able to sincerely account for your actions from your response to the question.

When answering this question, you need to be very careful, these are the mistakes you should avoid:

  • Don’t lie about the situation that led to your resignation from your previous employment.
  • Do your best to avoid being negative about your experience and try not to bad mouth your previous employer.
  • Avoid pushing all the blame for the incident to the organization or the employer. You should try your best to show how some of your actions contributed to the situation.
  • Avoid putting yourself in a state of pity that would make everyone else involved wrong. It gives the recruiter the idea that you would repeat the same action again.

This is what you should rather focus on:

  • Tell the recruiter about what you have learned from the situation, and how the experience has molded you into a better person.
  • Show that you have made an effort to address the action that contributed to you being fired.
  • Always let the interviewer know that you have eliminated any action that may make you face the same situation with a new employer.

Sample Answer:

This is an example of an answer that will properly deal with this question:

I was forced to resign because marketing wasn’t a strong fit for me. My employer was extremely pleased with my customer service and support skills, but over a long period of time, I wasn’t meeting up with my monthly sales goals. I have decided to shift my focus to customer service and support. This position offers me a better opportunity to leverage my communication skills”.

This question may appear to be one question that you want to avoid. Focusing on the positive angle when answering this question will give you the opportunity to explain that you are the right person for the position.

9) What do you like least about your job?

This question can seem like a net to trap you because the recruiter looks forward to getting a negative response from you, and if you are not careful, you may likely prevent yourself from getting the job.

It is important for you to understand that the interviewer is trying to know if you are going to be satisfied with the position.

So if you give the interviewer the impression that you were dissatisfied with your previous job, the interviewer may have the impression that you would be dissatisfied again.

When you are asked this question, try to be honest with your answers and also maintain a positive tone. This is what you should emphasize when you are about to answer this question:

  • Don’t mention something you dislike that is common with the position that you are applying for.
  • Avoid talking about personal issues you have with co-workers in the office.
  • Avoid answers that will make you appear as an incorrigible person.
  • Avoid giving the interviewer the impression that you are difficult to please.
  • Don’t use this question as an opportunity for you to start bad-mouthing your previous boss or company.
You should rather look forward to creating an impression that will make the recruiter not scared about you taking up the new position. You can start off your answer by using this approach:
  • Mention what you like about your previous job
  • Touch on what you did not like and focus on things you did not like about the task or a particular situation.
  • You can talk about how you were able to manage the situation until you decide to move on in your career.

Sample answers:

I really liked my previous employer and the talented people in my team. One of the challenges that I faced was working remotely from my location, and it became more challenging for me as the company grew bigger. I was also tired of limiting myself to working alone. Why I am enthusiastic about this job is that it will give me the opportunity to work remotely when the need arises. I look forward to connecting with team members physically and not online”

“I really cannot say I dislike anything about my current job. My company is a start-up that is still in its infantry stage which gives limited room for advancement. I think I have gotten to the peak of my career in my current organization, and I would like to learn more about technology because the world is becoming technologically based. Regrettably, we don’t work with technology, in order to advance my career, I’ve decided it is time to move on”

“It is a really great company overall, but my position kept me behind the scenes always in the computer room, with very little interaction with co-workers and customers. I love solving computer or gadget-related problems, but I value human relations a lot too, this is why I am really enthusiastic about this job”

When you are answering this question, be careful not to go on negative about your current job and employer. You should rather use the question as an opportunity to tell the interviewer how the job matches your skills and personality.

10) How would your last boss describe you

When employers ask this question, they simply want to know what your strengths and weaknesses are. The answer you give will help the interviewer understand why your current employer sees you as a great asset to the team.

These are the points you should focus on when answering the question:

  • Relate your answers to why you think you are a good fit for the position
  • You can point out two to three points about how your boss sees your performance
  • Don’t forget to state how you enjoyed working with your boss
  • You can tell a story about your recommendation to your boss

You should also avoid making mistakes like:

  • Bad-mouthing your boss to bring out your good traits
  • Don’t spin out negative thoughts that your boss had about you, even if there are some negative feelings you should also see the positive light of it.
  • Avoid bragging about how well you and your boss went along

Sample answers

“My last boss would say that I am always proactive and prepared to solve any form of challenge. Nothing really takes me unawares, I am usually prepared to face future challenges. I think that my ability to see a problem beforehand and solve them while they are still at the formative stage is what sets me apart from other employees”.

“My last boss would see me as a problem solver and when I newly started my past position, I was always ready to face challenges and solve problems with ease. I think that my ability to be calm when there is a difficult situation is what really distinguished me from other employees”

“I think my boss would talk about my two most obvious traits which are hard work and result oriented. My boss has always known me as someone that loves things to be done the right way and at the right time. So I was always putting in more hours to make sure that we achieve the desired result in any project. My boss always commended me for that. I also work hard to keep myself up-to-date on current industry trends and technologies by attending meet-ups and workshops to better position myself to face up to any challenge that may arise in the cause of performing my job”

Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers

For traditional interview questions, the interviewer may ask questions that will eventually show your educational background, skills, abilities, etc. But in the behavioral interview questions, the interviewer focuses on how you were able to handle different work situations in the past. Your answer will reflect your skills, abilities, and personality.

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