Interviews are stressful enough even when you’re answering questions you’re very familiar with such as your career history, but what if the interviewer throws you a curve ball? We’re not talking really ‘out there’ questions that Google HQ seems to favour such as ‘Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck or 100 duck-size horses?’. We’re talking tricky questions that pop up fairly often, that may catch you on the back foot if you’re not prepared. So, we have developed a list of some of the more common ones, with great advice on how to best answer them…

What is your weakness?

Obviously, do not answer with a weakness that will jeopardise your chance of successfully landing the job – if you’re up for the role of Executive PA , you don’t want to be confessing to an inability to organise and prioritise multiple tasks! Select a weakness, that could also be seen as a strength and show how you have taken steps to counter it. So, for example, “I am very focused on details, so I always need to make sure that I still keep sight of the bigger picture” or “I used to feel very stressed during busy periods, but now I minimise this by going to the gym after work.” And, never choose poor timekeeping as a weakness – this is never a weakness that any employer will want to contend with!

Why should we give you the job?

This is a cue for you to summarize why you would be a great fit for the role, and the business both in terms of skillset match and as a good cultural fit. Explain what value you can bring to the company over the other candidates that they could be considering.

Have you ever had a bad experience with an employer?

Red lights should start flashing with this one – proceed with caution! You have got 2 options here, you can either be truthful if you have had a bad experience or you can opt for the safer option and say that you have always had a great relationship with your previous employers. If you go for the first option, don’t launch into a personal attack, and refer to any challenging situations or relationships in a professional manner. Always include your strategy or solution to the problem.

Your recruitment consultant will be a valuable source of advice here – we know our clients inside out and are very familiar with the types of question they like to ask at interview. In many cases, we have worked with them for years, some from when we were first established in 1989! Also, take a look at Glassdoor – search up the company and click on the ‘interview’ reviews tab which often throws up types of question candidates were asked. But most importantly, when answering any difficult interview question, take your time, don’t get flustered and remember that these questions are an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd.