Have you ever been asked any really awkward interview questions? If you've been through an interview - and there are very few of us who haven't - then you've undoubtedly been asked the type of question that leaves you wondering how on earth to answer it. Some of them seem impossible to get right, and leave you panicking about what kind of answer would satisfy the interviewer. Here's how to handle those awkward interview questions without ruining your chances of getting the job …
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Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?
One of the most awkward interview questions you can be asked is why you left your last position, especially if you left under a cloud. But there are various answers you can give. For example, the prospects were limited, the position was not best suited to your abilities, or that you want to seek a new challenge. Try to avoid saying anything that reflects badly on your potential commitment to the new company.
How Long do You Intend to Stay Here
Most firms don't want to employ someone who is going to leave within a short time, unless it's a specifically short-term contract. Training a new member of staff is expensive, and they don't want a high turnover of employees. So even if you don't intend to stay for long, you can answer something vague like 'I have no plans/ am looking for a career that will support me to progress.'
Do You Plan to Have Children?
In some countries it is illegal to ask this question, as it's discriminatory. But interviewers may still ask this question (although they're unlikely to ask it of a man). You can say that you have no plans for a family, or ask why they wish to know - thus turning the question back on them.
What Are Your Weaknesses?
Again, try to turn this one around. It's a tricky question, as saying 'nothing' would be seen as arrogant, not to mention improbable. So admit your weak points, but add how you hope to learn and improve. This is suitably humble, while still showing your strengths.
Can You Explain the Gaps?
You may be asked to explain any gaps in employment in your resumé. Periods of unemployment can be viewed in a negative light. If you have been out of work, say that you were using the time to improve your skills and knowledge. You can also fall back on the excuse of 'family commitments.' But try to make it look as though you've done something positive with the time.
Sometimes interviewers like to ask seemingly random questions, such as 'If you were an animal, what would you be?' or 'What three things would you take to a desert island?' It might be hard to tell what they're looking for from these questions, so always try to pick something that will show you in a positive light and explain your choices.
Aren't You over-Qualified?
At a time when jobs are scarce, plenty of people have to apply for jobs that they are over-qualified for. They'll be worried that you'll soon get bored (or a better job) and move on. Explain that you enjoy a new challenge, that you hope to progress within the organisation, or that you like the prospect of working with the public. There is always a way to show enthusiasm for the job.
Consider awkward questions carefully, but don't freeze. You can always find an answer to any question - the interviewer usually wants to learn about you and your reasoning. What is the worst interview question you've been asked?
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