5 tricky interview questions and how to answer them

The interview questions that people prepare for the most are usually those about the company and the job description, but sometimes it’s the more general questions that can prove trickiest to answer. Despite them being the ones that crop up time and time again, they still manage to throw people remarkably often – here’s our guide to negotiating them smoothly.

Tell me about yourself

A deceptively difficult question, this one. On the face of it, it’s a straightforward and conversational introduction to the interview, but it’s so vague that it can be difficult to know exactly what to say. The key is to be concise and snappy, giving a brief summary of the skills and qualifications which make you a good fit for the position without going through your entire CV and life to date. The best way to think of it is like a spoken version of the summary or personal profile section on your CV – cover the salient points, give the interviewer a flavour of your character, but make sure your answer remains focused and succinct.

What motivates you?

There’s no right answer to this question, but the important thing is to keep in mind the job that you’re interviewing for when giving your answer. If it’s a sales job, they’ll probably want to hear that you are motivated by money and targets. If it’s a customer service job, you may want to say that you are motivated by providing the best possible experience to customers. Just make sure that you know what you are going to say in advance, as this is a question that can throw you if you’re not prepared.

What salary are you looking for?

Lots of people find talking about money uncomfortable, and there’s a perception amongst some that it’s in some way crude or vulgar to discuss salary frankly and openly. However, there’s really no need to tiptoe around the issue – salary is important and you’re not going to take a job unless it works for you financially. Make sure you’ve looked at similar jobs online beforehand so that you have a good idea of the market, speak candidly with the interviewer about what you think you’re worth, and remember that there’s nearly always room for negotiation.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

The difficulty with this question is trying to come across as ambitious without appearing over-ambitious. Interviewers want to know that you are highly motivated and driven, but they also want to believe that they are investing in someone for the long-term, rather than someone who is using their company as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Rather than saying, “I’d like to be running my own business”, or “I’d like to be in a management position at a global business”, it’s often better to say something like, “I’d like to be a genuine asset at a business where my contribution is highly valued.”

Why are you leaving your current job?

Again, there are lots of potential risks when answering this question, but the one golden rule is to never say anything that paints your former employer in a negative light. Even if you have genuine grievances, it doesn’t give off a great impression to the interviewer, who may worry that you are confrontational, over-sensitive or difficult to manage. Rather than focus on the negatives, speak about your desire for further development and progression, and the ways in which the job you’re going for will help you to achieve those goals.

Need some help with your job search? At Kingsgate Recruitment, we always thoroughly prep our candidates to give them the best possible chance in their interview. Submit your CV now, check out our latest jobs or give us a call on 020 8549 7212.