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How to Answer 5 of the Toughest Interview Questions

Interviews can be daunting, no matter whether you’re going for your first job or have  been out of the workforce for a while.

As well as understanding how to calm pre-interview nerves, being prepared means thinking about some of the questions you may be asked, and practising what to say in response to each one. We’ve created this guide to some of the toughest interview questions you might face.

1. Tell Me About Yourself

When an employer asks this question they’re trying to get a sense of who you are as a person, and whether you’d be a good fit among the other employees at the company. Try to focus on your qualities and transferable skills that would be relevant to the position, rather than very personal things such as what you like to do with your spare time, or how many family members you have. You can even take this time to talk about any relevant workplace skills courses you’ve completed.

2. Why Do You Want to Work for this Company?

This question is designed to test how much research you’ve done about the organisation, and how committed you will be to upholding its values. Ensure you do some reading about the company you’re interviewing for. Find out how long they’ve been in business, the type of work they do, and think about what convinced you to apply for the company in the first place. Focus on what you can do for the company, as well as what they can do for you.

3. What Was Your Previous Salary / What is Your Salary Expectation?

This is a question that many people find difficult as they’re afraid that if their salary expectations are too high, they may price themselves out of the job. Others might not feel confident asking for a higher salary than their previous position, even when their experience justifies it.

In a first interview, make the conversation less about the money and more about the role and making sure it’s a good fit.

One potential answer to this question could be: “Obviously salary is an important factor in my decision, but what it is more important is about making sure that the role is the right fit and so I would rather not discuss salary at this stage. If we feel after this conversation we both want to take the conversation further then I would be happy to discuss salary.”

The reason for doing this is because you want to make your hire about you and not simply how much the employer will have to pay you. If you get through to the next stage and they want to discuss salary then it means that they are interested in you, and you can ask for a higher salary than you would have before they had compared you to the other candidates.

4. Would You Rather Fight a Horse-Sized Duck, or 10 Duck-Sized Horses?

That got your attention right? It is becoming more and more common for recruiters and hiring managers to ask candidates more unusual and left-of-field questions than the often bland and meaningless, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” questions that candidates have heard before and have a canned response for. This is a practice that has been popularised by big tech companies like Google and Apple.

The purpose of these questions is typically to see how you react to an unknown situation, or to test your way of thinking. In the question above the interviewer is looking to see if you prefer to multi task (juggling multiple projects at a time) or you prefer to focus and work on one large project at a time.

5. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 or 10 Years?

Most interviewers ask something along the lines of, “Where do you see yourself X years from now?” to find out whether you’re likely to stay for a considerable period of time. Make sure that you can see yourself in this position for the foreseeable future, and be honest about what your longer term goals are.

Final interview tips

For more advice on prepping for an interview check out our Tips for a Successful Interview. When it comes time to securing that interview, MTC offers interview training workshops to ensure you have the confidence and knowledge to impress any potential employer. Explore our range of Employment Services available to job seekers today.