7 tough interview questions and how to answer them at your next interview.

You reworked your CV, perfected your cover letter, and landed the big job interview. But that’s only the beginning. It’s time for the difficult part – the Interview. An interview can make or break your chances of getting a job. It’s not just about what’s on your CV but your personality and charisma as a whole. 

Employers want what’s best for their business which is why they ask tough interview questions to whittle down their pool of potential hires. In order for you to come out on top, you must prepare in advance.

Here are 7 tough interview questions and how to answer them –

What is your greatest weakness?

This question is asked to determine if you have a sense of self-awareness. The interviewer wants to know that you’re human, so drop the whole “packaging” for a second and be real. They want to know if you’re keen on self-improvement which is of benefit to the company. While you want to be honest, you need to answer the question in a manner that doesn’t pass off as a red flag to the interviewer.

Bad answer –

  • I’m always late
  • I tend to miss deadlines
  • I’m not great
  • I tend to fold under pressure

Suggested Answer – 

“My writing skills are quite impressive but I’ve been working towards doing more in a short period of time and producing quality work even under pressure. I’m taking conscious steps to ensure I curb my weakness of underperforming in a high-pressure situation”

Why should we hire you?

Here, the interviewer wants to see how much research you have done into the company. Employers might ask this question to also understand what differentiates you from other candidates they might be interviewing.

Tying your answer to the job description, company goals and values is a sure way to impress the interviewer. Highlight what qualities they are looking for and sell yourself with it – highlight your accomplishments and goals and convince the interviewer that you are probably the right person for the job.

Bad answer – 

  • I’m passionate about what I do
  • I’d be of value to your organization

Suggested Answer

“In my current (previous) role as a  marketing manager, I have been successful in generating 70% of the company’s leads which had a 50% conversion rate. Seeing that your company is also customer-centric, it has always been part of my job and personal passion to ensure that decisions are made with the customer in mind. These are the kind of results and performance I’m bringing to the table. I’m excited to bring my unique blend of skills to this role.”

Why are you leaving your current company?

This is one of the most tricky questions during an interview. Even if you hated your last job, you never want to talk badly about a former employer during an interview. The tone with which you answer this question is more important than the response you provide; the interviewer is trying to learn whether you are a complainer. Answer this question honestly, but refrain from providing too much personal or negative detail.

Bad answer-

  • I hated the job
  • I don’t like my boss
  • I hated the work environment

Suggested answer – 

“While I highly valued my time at my previous company, there are no longer learning opportunities or career growth opportunities. Being at the company was a huge learning curve for me but I am seeking new challenges and opportunities that align with my personal career goals and aspirations. Which is why i’m sure your company will be the perfect fit”

How well do you work under pressure?

This is one of the most basic questions during an interview but it tells the interviewer a lot. Most companies have the culture of “a faced paced environment” which is why employers look for employees who can perform and even over-perform even under pressure.

Bad answer –

  • I would say I work well under pressure
  • I can’t work well under pressure

Suggested answer –

“Honestly, I’m someone who thrives under pressure. It’s not always easy but it must be done. I have grown the habit of being proactive, so as to avoid any situation that will put me under pressure in the first place. The key to thriving is really planning and time management – both are skills I have up my sleeve. Communication is key for me in stressful situations, even if over-communicating is necessary to ensure everyone is on the same page. ”

How much do you currently earn?

Although this isn’t a necessary question to ask, employers tend to. They do this to get a better understanding of where you’re coming from, as well as to guide your salary negotiation.

Bad answer – 

  • I earn N150,000
  • I can’t disclose that information

Suggested answer –

“Well, I have a very robust job description and even go the extra mile to execute tasks outside my JD. I currently earn somewhere between N150,000 – N250,000, this is subject to further increase scheduled by the company”

What is your salary expectation?

Employers want to know that your salary demands are reasonable. The safest strategy is to provide a believable range, accompanied by a statement of your willingness to negotiate your pay scale.

Bad answer –

  • I expect nothing less that N250,000
  • I’m looking at receiving N250,000 net

Suggested answer –

“Considering the job description and working conditions, I am looking at anywhere between N250,000 to N350,000 monthly. I’m more than open to negotiating this, depending upon your benefits package.”

Why have you been out of work? Or Can you explain the gaps in your employment history?

When the interviewer reviews their job candidates, a major red flag for employers is when someone has major employment gaps. It’s in their best interest to learn whether this was a result of the candidate’s personal weaknesses (laziness, or a poor work ethic) or whether there were extenuating circumstances beyond the individual’s control.

Bad answer –

  • I couldn’t get a job

Suggested answer –

“I have been out of work before due to several factors like the company getting sold, change of location, as well as health crisis. But during each gap, I took time to improve my skills, gain additional knowledge and really take time out to assess my career trajectory. Each phase wasn’t a resting period for me but actually an opportunity for me to improve myself and increase the value I have to offer my next employer.”

You will need to put a little thought into answering these tough questions. Many times, the interviewer wants to see how well you respond to changing environments and how fast you can think on your feet.

Be prepared with a few answers to the most common questions, but also be ready for some totally odd questions. If you need to, repeat the question as you come up with your answer. It’s a great trick because it gives you time to think.

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