Get Your Dream Job: Don't Tell The Interviewer About Yourself, This Is What He Really Wants To Hear

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Simple Ways to Answer Tricky Interview Questions

A couple of years ago, my idea of a job interview was being in front of a hard, unsmiling panel and having extremely difficult questions thrown at me, like rocks. However, when I got invited for my first interview, I realized this is not always the case.

A job interview does not have to be tense. In fact, you may find yourself with a very friendly panel, who will go all out to make you feel as comfortable as possible.

However, irrespective of the size and manner of the panel you are faced with, what is required of you is confidence and of course, the appropriate answers to every question you are asked. This part is what’s tricky.

So, in this post, we’d be looking at the simple ways to answer 5 tricky questions you are likely to get in your job interview.

1. Tell Me About Yourself.

This question seems very straightforward. Usually, the first you’d be asked in an interview. However, it is tricky because though it sounds like an invitation to tell your life story, it is not.

When asked the ‘tell me about yourself’ question, what the hiring panel is actually asking you is to tell them about yourself, as it pertains to the position you are applying for.

With this in mind, you should not begin to share generic information about yourself, your family or how many siblings you have. Rather, you could start with your name, academic qualifications, present skills and strengths, previous experiences as well as future professional aspirations. You should also feel free to ask the interviewers for clarifications, just in case there are specific information they’d like to hear about.

Take this for instance:

Question: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Wrong Answer: Hmmn, where do I start? My name is Oluwaseun. I was born in the late 80s and currently married with 6 kids. …

Right Answer: My name is Oluwaseun, a second-year master’s student of marketing communications at the Lagos Business School. Prior to pursing this degree, I worked with the marketing and communications department at Shell, where I developed and honed my skills in copywriting and digital marketing. This experience really piqued my interest in this field and I look forward to an opportunity to learn more and contribute to your marketing communications department…

2. Where do you See Yourself in Five Years?

This question is tricky because you might be tempted to say everything you see yourself doing in five years and completely miss the mark. Like the first question, your answer should be much more professional than personal. What the hiring panel really wants to know is if you are going to stick with them and if you are worth the investment of training.

To answer this question, you could tell them how you think the job will provide you with so many opportunities, such that in 5 years, you’d be in a particular position within the organisation. You can also explain what value you hope to have added as well as how you could also have improved yourself professionally in that time.

Take this for instance:

Question: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Wrong Answer: In five years, I’d be a millionaire, enjoying life. I’d have built a house and would probably be the CEO of this company …

Right answer: In five years, I hope to have acquired a lot of knowledge in marketing communications, as well as contributed immensely to the growth of my department and the company. I’m also looking forward to eventually taking on additional managerial responsibilities and possibly taking the lead on some projects…

3. What is your Greatest Weakness?

Like the first two, this question is also very tricky because you might be tempted to give personal, instead of professional answers.

When asked this question, what interviewers actually want to know is if or not you are consciously aware of the areas you could improve on. Your weakness does not have to be present. It could be something that you’ve already worked on, but say it anyway. I’d advise that you think about this question before the interview, so you don’t give a generic answer or be at a loss of what to say. No one would believe you if you say you have no weakness.

To answer this question, start by mentioning the weakness, how it poses a problem to your work or career and how you’ve started to work on improving.

Take this for instance:

Question: What is your greatest weakness?

Wrong answer: Hmmn, my greatest weakness is to sleep. I could sleep all day…

Right answer: I used to have to have a problem with time management and this affected me every time I tried to multitask. Currently, I’m working on this through the use of certain time management tools.

4. What did you Hate About your Last Job?

This question is tricky because you might be tempted to spill all the beans about why you hated your boss, the work, the timing – all of it! This is wrong, because as Kachi Tila-Adesina puts it, the interviewers might already begin to picture you sitting elsewhere and literally dragging their name and their organisation in the mud as well.’

To answer this question, start by saying how beneficial the job was, before going to state one or two things you could have changed, if given the opportunity. Also, explain why you think the role you are now applying for is a better fit.

If you did not hate your last job, you can say so. This response can also be adapted, just in case you are asked why you are leaving your current position.

Take this for instance:

Question: What did you hate about your last job?

Wrong answer: Ooh, my boss! I hated my boss! …

Right answer: Well, my last job did offer me an opportunity to learn and grow in my career. However, I think it would have been better if such opportunity was granted in a less hostile work environment… I believe that working here would not just give me a better opportunity to grow, but also a conducive and comfortable work environment, which is very important to growth.

5. How much are you looking to be paid?

Now, this question is tricky because well, money is involved and while you don’t want to short-change yourself, you wouldn’t want to price yourself out of range either!

I know money is very important but when asked this question, don’t jump at the opportunity to scream ‘one million naira!’ Instead, you should have done your research on the organisation you are coming into and how much is standard for the role you are applying for.

If you are aware of how much the company really wants to hire you, say because of your expertise and skills, you can negotiate your salary right there. However, if this is not the case, you’ll need to fall back on the information you’ve gathered on what the going rate is, for the position you’re being interviewed for. In the worst case scenarios, you can request to know more about the role’s responsibilities and benefits packages. You should also mention how you are willing to discuss further when the time is right.

Take this for instance:

Question: How much are you looking to be paid?

Wrong answer: I can’t take anything less than ‘One million naira’!

Right answer: That’s a fair question. To answer it properly, I’d need to know more about the role’s responsibilities and benefits package. I am quite confident that knowing the reputation of the company, when the time comes, any offer you make will be competitive.”

Read also: 8 Insightful Questions Only the Smartest Candidates ask in a Job Interview

There you have it, the simple ways to answer tricky questions in your next job interview. Of course, there are quite a lot more tricky questions than I’ve listed. And while researching for this post, I found a couple of materials on tricky interview questions, which I think you’ll also find helpful. I’ve labelled them material 1, material 2, material 3 and material 4, respectively.

Finally, if you have any questions concerning job search, preparing for an interview or anything career-related, do feel free to ask.

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