How should I answer these 9 tricky interview questions?

By Robert Half on 12/08/2019

Preparing well for your job interview will increase your chances of success. You know you will be asked some tricky questions. So what’s the best way to answer them to come across as a strong yet credible person? Read through our 9 most common tricky interview questions and sample answers and go to your interview well-prepared.

1. What are your salary expectations?

Sample answer: “What salary do you have in mind for this job?”

By asking the question yourself, you can sound out your potential employer’s benchmarks for the job in the first interview while keeping your cards close to your chest.


2. What are your main weaknesses?

Sample answer: “Because I’m rather shy, I have to muster up a lot of courage to take the lead in meetings or discussions. I’m working on this by following assertiveness training.”

Mention a ‘weakness’ that is not directly relevant to the job description. If the job involves leading weekly team meetings, answering that you’re shy would not be a great choice. Whatever your ‘weakness’, always show you are working on it by listing specific steps you are taking.


3. What makes you the best person for the job?

Sample answer: “I have the right skills and experience.”

This question is about what you can contribute to the company, so repeating how much you want this job is not the best answer. Avoid vague answers; instead, list specific examples and skills that are useful for the job you’re applying for.


4. Have you ever had a negative experience with a former employer?

Sample answer: “No, if a difficult situation arises, I try to keep calm and deal with it in a constructive way.”

Never put a previous employer in a bad light. Try to answer this question as diplomatically as possible and do not focus on any personal feuds. However, be honest about any general negative experiences you had.


5. What motivates you?

Sample answer: “Working on fascinating projects and being recognised for it.”

Demonstrate that you are motivated by being given responsibility and achieving results. That way, you show that your motivation is linked to internal rather than external factors like company size or salary.


6. Can you tell us more about yourself?

Sample answer: “I regularly volunteer and am a committee member of an association.”

Say something about your hobbies and passions. This is often one of the first questions at a job interview. The primary purpose is to get a first impression of your personality and style of communication. So you don’t have to talk about your career; you can also talk about your personal interests. This can be a good starting point to mention a quality you want to focus on. Volunteering, for example, shows that you enjoy dedicating yourself to something you believe in.


7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Sample answer: “I first want to settle into this job to become an expert in the field within a few years.”’

The interviewer uses this question to find out more about your motivation and ambitions. Reflect on the challenges the job may involve and incorporate this into your answer.


8. When do you consider yourself to be successful?

Sample answer: “When I have achieved the goals I set for myself by following a proper roadmap.”

Immediately linking your success to salary and promotion is not a good idea. It would sound like you were only in it for the money. The best answer is one that clearly focuses on your ambitions and passions. Make sure to cite specific examples.


9. What aspects of your previous job were less enjoyable?

Sample answer: “The job was no longer a challenge for me. Although I enjoyed working there, I believe my skills would be more useful elsewhere.”

Again, it is essential not to bad-mouth your previous employer or job. Your answers should be about specific tasks, situations or resources – not about people. Also always mention something positive in your answer: no job is perfect, so saying there were no negative aspects would be unrealistic.

Remember: the above sample answers are just intended to give some direction. Use them in a way that suits you.


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