[Part 3] Toughest Interview Questions

11) Give me an example of an important goal that you had set in the past and tell me about your success in reaching it

Most interviewers ask the question because they want to know how you have been able to achieve success and things that helped you achieve success at that particular time.

It is advisable for you to use the STAR method to help you have a more structured answer. Using this method will provide you with all the information that the interviewer is looking for.

The STAR method includes the following steps:

Situation: You should start by describing the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to complete. You must describe a specific situation or event.

Task: Describe the goal that you were looking forward to achieving

Action: Describe the specific action that you took to address the situation. You are also explaining the actions you took to reach your goals.

Result: You must be able to give the result of your actions using specific details. The result is going to be an important part of your response because the interviewer asked about a time that you achieved success. Meaning that there would definitely be a result.

To answer this question, you have to:

  • Make sure the situation you are describing is relevant
  • Make sure that you are clear and realistic

Sample Answers

“In my recent internship program, I set a personal goal to accomplish my objective for my internship which is developing my experience in IT support. I also set a goal to learn the basics of computer programming before the end of my internship program. I worked really closely with the IT and programming team to make sure I develop my skills. At the end of my internship, I had 1- year of experience in an IT support role and was able to horn my programming skills to an intermediate level”.

“This year, I set to push my customer service skills from intermediate to advance. I decided to work closely with the customer service department to learn the core of customer service from experts. I also took professional classes in customer relations management. After working really close with the customer service department for that, I was amazed at how good I have become with my customer service skills that even customers spoke very well of me to my boss”.

12) Describe some times when you were not very satisfied or pleased with your Performance

When interviewers ask this question, they simply want to understand how you take your work (how much you care about your job) and to what extent do you consider yourself responsible for your success in the role.

Take note of the following before you attempt the question:

  • Make sure the example you are giving is relevant to the job that you are applying for
  • Talk about your previous role
  • Give tangible reasons why you think you were not satisfied
  • Give an example of what you have learned
  • State how your learnings have helped you improve

Sample Answers

When I got my first job as a marketer and was given a target for the month, I was overwhelmed by what I was supposed to achieve, so I simply went out to get customers the possible way I thought. At the end of the month, I noticed I was the only one on the team that did not meet up with the target. I felt really bad.

I spoke to my boss about it, then he advised me to be more strategic and create a plan before carrying out any action. Working with his advice, I devised a marketing strategy and broke down plans to achieve my goals before I went out. After working with my strategy I become one of the top marketers in my company. I realized that it is very important to plan and that doing too many things at the same time does not guarantee success”.

“At a point in my current job, I discovered that I was used to working in a team and because of that I became too dependent on other team members to get things done. My supervisor talked to me about it, and I started to be more responsible in carrying out my task and I wanted to start working more independently. I worked closely with my supervisor so she could give me personal tasks which she did. After doing more tasks alone, I develop a better sense of independence in carrying out my task. Because I started working independently I developed other skills like advanced Excel skills that I applied to make my work better”.

13) Tell me about a time when you worked under close supervision or extremely

loose supervision. (How did you handle that?)

Most times when interviewers ask this question, they want to know how well you can work in a team, how you relate with a superior, and how well you can work independently.

When answering the question, always talk about;

  • What the situation was like
  • The action you took to handle the situation
  • What you learned
  • How you finally handled the situation

Sample Answers

“In my previous job, I was working under a supervisor that was almost always busy with official duties, so he did not really have the time to supervise my task. It was quite challenging for me as an entry-level staff member with very little experience in Human resources. I decided to ask my colleagues in the same department how they carried out their tasks and they were always willing to help me through my task. Getting more knowledge from other people helped me work better and deliver results to my supervisor with ease”. (Working under loose supervision)

“In my previous job, I was working as a content developer for our media team, but my line manager’s supervision was too close and almost intense. She watched everything I do and virtually sat by me almost all day. I felt very uncomfortable with it because it kept me under pressure almost all the time. Over time, I discovered that she did not really trust me to handle projects alone because I was new. I decided I was going to build her trust for the projects I handled. I talked to her about handling a project without supervision, and she agreed reluctantly. I did my best to research and perform well in the project. The project was very successful, and since then she really did not need to supervise me with so much intensity”. (Working under close supervision).

14) Tell me about a time when you went above your duty to do a job

When interviewers ask this question, they simply want to know how passionate you are about your job. They would also love to know the extent you can go to get your job done. Interviewers also use this to know how result-oriented you are.

Sometimes interviewers ask this question to see if you are the kind of person that is ready to take challenges and goes over the minimum to ensure that the job is done properly (when necessary)

These are aspects you should focus on when answering this question:

  • Focus on the goal of the question which is over and beyond
  • Focus on the qualities rather than the situation
  • Focus on understanding what the interviewer means by above your duties
  • Understand how you would explain your duty to the interviewer.

Avoid the following:

  • Avoid exaggerating anything
  • Don’t be in a haste to answer the question
  • Avoid giving an example that is not related to the question

Sample Answers

“For me, I think that going beyond my call of duty is making sure that the right things are done at the right time and not just doing what I am expected to do. A very big company contacted us to get them the invoice for a range of products. The mail was sent to our mailbox. Fortunately, I pick it up from the mailbox and discovered it was going to be late by Monday and it was already Friday. I took the mail home did my research and forwarded them the invoice even if it was not my duty. The following week we were awarded the multi-million contract”.

“Going beyond my call of duty is going out of my way to make sure that everything works out perfectly. For example, I once worked as a logistics manager, so one day our big client made an order that needs to leave that night, I decided to join people doing the package even if I was a manager till almost midnight. I did not want the client to lose trust in our vision which is express national delivery. I knew that was the only thing I could do to save the moment”.

15) Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work

Employers understand that no two people are the same, and working together with people there will be points of agreement and disagreement. Most times, interviewers ask this question because they want to know how well you can work in a team, and how well you deal with disagreement.

When answering this question, you should focus on:

  • The decision you disagreed with
  • Why you disagreed with the decisions
  • The alternative suggestion that you offered
  • The result of the disagreement You should avoid:
  • Using negative words on people involved in the decision making
  • Avoid being defensive
  • Be careful to not sound opinionated

Sample Answers

“My team members were working on a publication for the company, and my supervisor and other members of the team were keen about setting time targets to help us come up with the publication. I disagreed with that, I know setting a time target puts you on your feet to get the job done, but it also creates a tense environment and team members will work under duress which will not help them see things from their creative space. I told them that it is better we take our time and come up with something that is worth it at the end of the day. After a lot of deliberations, my supervisor and other team members agreed with me and the publication still stood out as one of the best that we have ever done”.

“I was working on a project that needed us to reach out to so many people. My boss instructed me to go out on rallies so that we can create awareness of our program. I did not agree with his instruction on going on the street of Lagos for a rally. I advised him that we should run an internet campaign that is fast, easy, and cheaper. He was really impressed with my online campaign suggestion that we carried out and we were able to reach out to the number of people that we wanted to reach out to”.

Leave a Comment