You’ve finally been invited to an interview for your dream job, and you just can’t stop smiling and telling your friends and family about this great opportunity.

Being excited and passionate, and having a positive attitude, will certainly go a long way when it comes to the success of the interview — but the other big factor that will play a role is whether or not you are adequately prepared.

In this article, we focus on helping you to answer some of the most difficult questions that interviewers like to ask.

(Keep in mind that these are guidelines on how to answer the questions, and that it is recommended that you adapt your answers to your specific situation)

1)      “What are your greatest strengths?”

Interviewers love to ask questions about your strengths and weaknesses, as your answers will give them a good indication of how you view yourself. When asked what your greatest strengths are, don’t answer with a cliché such as, ‘I have natural people skills’ — this statement does not mean anything to a potential employer. Ask a few of your current colleagues what they think your greatest strengths are and why they think so — this will provide you with legitimate answers to use in your interview.

2)      “What are your weaknesses?”

When discussing your weaknesses, it is best to avoid answers that could actually be seen as strengths — such as, ‘I am a perfectionist.’ Once again, you can ask your current colleagues, or even your close friends, what they think your weaknesses are.

You can then formulate an answer in which you state your weaknesses, along with an explanation of what you are doing (and have already done) to improve in these areas. As far as possible, you should only mention weaknesses that do not directly affect your ability to do the job, and which can be improved over time.

3)       “Why do you want to work for this company?”

The key to answering this question with confidence is to do thorough research about the company that’s interviewing you. Familiarise yourself with the company’s values, read through their mission & vision statements, and find a way to link these with your own values and vision in life. Ask a friend or contact who works for the company about company culture, and try to link it with your own personality to show that you will fit in easily.

4)      “Where do you want to be, or what do you want to have achieved, in 5 (or 10) years’ time?”

When answering this question, it is important to sound enthusiastic, but not arrogant. Do research regarding the position you are applying for, and establish the growth opportunities associated with this position (industry research could also help you to identify industry growth trends in this regard).

Your aim should be to give an ambitious, yet realistic answer to this question. You should also try to make sure that your answer is in line with the long-term goals of your prospective employer. It generally wouldn’t be a good idea, for example, to tell the interviewer that you see yourself taking over their position within the next five years.

5)      “Why should we employ you, and not any of the other applicants for this job?”

Do your homework regarding the requirements of the position you are applying for. Align your strengths, qualifications, and past experience with the key responsibilities of the job to motivate why you are the best possible candidate. Also remember to do some research regarding the company culture, as this will aid you in answering the related question of: “What do you think is the greatest asset or skill that you will contribute to the team?”

6)      “How do you handle conflict in the work environment?”

When an interviewer asks you this question, they usually want you to mention a previous situation where conflict arose in the workplace, and how you handled it. Just be careful not to blame your previous colleagues, or to speak ill of them, as this might indicate that you don’t value your work relationships, or that you don’t have respect for your fellow employees.

7)      “What motivates you?”

When answering this question, keep the following in mind:

  •         your strengths
  •         the key responsibilities of the job that you are applying for
  •         what you enjoy doing when you are not at work (e.g. spending time with your family, playing a sport, or furthering your studies)

Try to formulate your answer around specific examples of things that motivate you, with an emphasis on how these things help you to stay motivated in the workplace.

8)      “How do you cope under pressure?”

You can answer this question by mentioning a situation where you were required to perform under pressure in your previous position (or during your studies, if you don’t yet have any work experience). Explain to the interviewer how you prioritised your tasks and organised your work environment in order to meet the requirements that were set.

This question provides you with an opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills — don’t waste it.

9)      “Why is there a gap in your work history?”

When answering this question, it is best to be honest. Employers understand that finding a new job immediately after losing your old one is almost impossible in today’s working environment. The best way to answer this question would be to let the interviewer know that you used your time productively while you were unemployed: mention any volunteer work, part-time studies, freelance projects, or family responsibilities you needed to take care of.

Click here for more tips on how to explain any gaps in your work history.

Are you ready for your next job interview?

Let us know in the comments section below!