From The Straits Times    |

tough job interview questions

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You’ve finally landed The Interview after hours of resume editing and cover letter work. It’s the big day and you’re about to meet your executioners interviewers, who probably will include a talent recruiter from the company, and maybe even your potential boss. You are freaking out. What questions will they throw at you, and how are you going to make it out alive (and with a job)?

The key to a successful interview lies in how prepared you are. Invest a bit of time into research into the company, as well as who you might be reporting to, before the day itself. And answering the following questions with confidence can make or break your chances at a job.


1. What can you offer us that other candidates can’t?

What can you offer us that other candidates can’t?

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This is a common question that is an opportunity for you to toot your own horn. Here’s the tricky part: Make sure it’s a sensible #humblebrag. Going through your previous experience, collecting your thoughts and knowing what you want to say beforehand will help you out here.

Go over details in your resume and portfolio, and list concrete examples of how your previous experience — and you — will be an asset to the team. It’s likely that the other candidates have similar qualifications, so you’ll need to elaborate on the assets and skill sets you have that others don’t.


2. Why did you leave your last job?

Why did you leave your last job?

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The key here is this: Never speak about a former boss or colleagues negatively, as this will make you look unprofessional. Your answer should reflect your aims for positive personal and career development. Focus on the skills you’ve learned from your previous job and how these can add value to your new position.




3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

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This is a favourite question of interviewers, so you shouldn’t be stumped when they pop this question. Before the interview, prepare a list. Focus on three to four strengths and weaknesses and address them one at a time. Have examples to back up each point.

Avoid generalisations like “I’m hardworking” or “I try my best at everything,” as they don’t say much about your specific qualities. Never say you don’t have any weakness, and don’t try to present a positive as a negative by saying “I’m a perfectionist” or “I work too hard”. Use this opportunity to identify something you can actually improve on. Employers will be impressed if you demonstrate a level of self-awareness.


4. What are your expectations of this job?

What are your expectations of this job?

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This question is about your career progression and aspirations, as well as your understanding of the job and company. Employers want to see if you’re forward-looking and whether you’ve done your research about the company.

Working in a company isn’t just about serving them robotically, it’s also about self-growth and development within the company’s structure. Define your job expectations by expressing what you want to gain as an employee of the company.


5. What do you consider to be your biggest failure?

What do you consider to be your biggest failure?

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Choose wisely when it comes to this question. Select an experience that you can draw positives from and explain what you’ve learnt from this failure. Everyone makes mistakes – it’s how you pick yourself up that counts, so explain why you failed, and how you used this as a springboard for success and personal growth.


6. What motivates you?

What motivates you?

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This is for your future employer to understand you better as an individual – what you value close to your heart, how you would work in a team, and what inspires you. Touch on the link between your professional style and personal self. Are you motivated by deadlines or customer service? Are you motivated by rising numbers?

Think carefully about your answer – it’s a time to do some soul-searching so you can be honest when faced with this question.


7. What experiences can you bring to this job from your previous role?

What experiences can you bring to this job from your previous role?

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Employers want to know how your previous experiences can translate into your new role and how this will enhance your performance. Ensure that you rehearse your answer beforehand, and so that the examples you present are appropriate and relevant to the role you’re interviewing for.

If you’re switching industries or starting a new career path, focus on transferable skills that you can bring to the role.


8. How do you evaluate success?

How do you evaluate success?

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This is for your employers to get a better sense of your work ethic, goals, and character. Do your research before the interview – browse the company’s website and read up on their vision and mission statement. Your definition of success should at least be aligned with theirs. This will also help them learn what kind of manager you might be, should you be responsible for a team.

Don’t lie when it comes to answering this question. If your idea of success and way of working don’t match up to the company’s mission statement, this might be a sign that this isn’t the job for you.


9. What challenges do you foresee in this position?


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This is a chance to discuss the growth and development of the role you’re applying for. Go over the skills necessary for the job from the job description, and identify what you think you can do easily and what you’ll need to learn more of, in order to succeed.

You can also discuss how you think the job will evolve and what you can do when it comes to handling that as well.