The five worst interview questions – and how to answer them

The interview process is almost always a daunting experience, especially when the stakes are high, so how can you prepare to wow your potential employers?

No matter how right you know you are for the job, the dreaded interview is the hurdle that you have to fly over with grace in order to secure that position.

1. So if you were an animal, which animal would you be?

An unconventional, and now tired, question, designed to see how quickly you respond, unflustered. Let’s be honest, it’s no longer original, the answers are pretty predictable; an ant, because they’re hard workers and work in a team, a chameleon because it can change colour and adapt to its environment…the list goes on.

Think about things you like and relate them to a specific animal. For example, you like swimming and you like tropical islands. So be a parrot fish swimming in a Caribbean coral reef.

You love rally driving and you love a steak dinner. Be a cheetah. They can run at 70mph, eat the freshest red meat, and are endangered, so by being a Cheetah you’d hope to be one more for their population.

2. How many traffic lights are there in New York?

Of course, they don’t expect you to know. They want you to think out loud and to show how you’d begin to work it out. It doesn’t even matter if you get the answer wrong.

So do think out loud – guesstimate – and round it off.

3. So, tell us about yourself

Remember that shortlists are nowadays done by computers and HR departments. Never assume the interviewers have noted your year spent in Malawi building schools for orphans. Give the panel something to remember you by. Do you have an unusual hobby, or have you raised thousands for charity? Mention this after giving a brief history of your career so far.

4. So where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

You hope to see yourself as an important cog in the company wheel, to have worked your way up the ranks, and to perhaps be sat on a panel like this, to recruit new hopefuls to the company.

5. What are your weaknesses?

They’re not looking for failings in you, but to see if you recognise things you might want to improve on for yourself. You may be strong on customer service but have a desire to improve your skills further with a larger customer base or training course.

Use this question to highlight a skill you have, but recognise that you have more to learn, though don’t pick a subject that is a definite requirement for the job!

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