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Tricky job-interview questions: how to answer them well without being dishonest

You want to know that you have landed a new role on your own merit

Honesty is the best policy. This a phrase we are all familiar with and something we are all told to remember when we are applying and interviewing for a new job. Telling a few lies and getting caught out either mid-interview or once you are on the job will result in a lot of personal and professional embarrassment.

Job interviews are not easy. When presented with tricky questions in highly-pressurised and stressful situations, panic sometimes sets in and you can find yourself saying something that is not necessarily entirely truthful.

There are many questions that can only be answered properly with a little advance thought and planning. Interviewers know exactly how to phrase a question in an unexpected way, deliberately increasing the pressure and constantly looking for discrepancies to uncover untruths.

If you find yourself in this situation during an interview, answering the question directly is key. You do not want to appear be avoiding a question; however, you do want to offer an answer that demonstrates some of your best qualities. Take the question, reframe it, and assert your control over the conversation.

Which aspects of your previous role didn’t you like?

This is a negative question that benefits from being reframed. Avoid stating that you enjoyed every part of your role, as this will simply not be true.

After stating an aspect you didn’t like, follow it up with how you found a way to make the task more enjoyable. This will demonstrate that you are willing to put effort into some of the least enjoyable tasks that exist in every role.

Can you describe the worst manager you have ever worked with?

This type of question is asked to discover whether you are likely to be a rebellious employee or a team player. Keep your answer concise, factual and non-emotional.

Begin by stating that your experience with management has been largely positive before moving on to describe a situation in which you disagreed. You could then highlight that you suggested an alternative and the matter was agreed mutually after some open discussion.

Was your previous contract terminated or did you resign?

This is a true test of the parameters of your honesty. If your contract was terminated, your focus should be on directing the conversation to what you want to achieve now; for example, you could say that both you and your previous employer agreed that the match was no longer a good fit. From here you can briefly detail why you feel the job you are interviewing for is a far better fit.

Can you describe your biggest weakness?

As one of the most common questions, interviewers will have already heard every cliché answer. The interviewer wants to be assured that you are able to acknowledge your weakness and how you are constantly working to improve on it. You need to do this by focusing on a fairly small weakness that is not directly linked to the specific role you are interviewing for; in this way, you won’t sabotage your chances by being too honest.

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