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The job interview questions people never know how to answer

No matter how well you prepare, there are always certain job interview questions that catch you off guard. Recruiting experts Hays spoke to over 250 skilled professionals in New Zealand to find out what those questions are – and they’ve provided the below advice on how to answer them.

According to Adam Shapley, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand, interviewers ask these questions for a very specific reason.

“Interviewers often ask these questions to gauge a candidate’s ability to react effectively when under pressure or taken by surprise,” he said. “So, from an interviewee’s perspective, knowing how to answer these testing job interview questions well can help you stand out.”

“When we spoke to people, five questions were cited again and again as the ones people struggle with the most.” They were:

1. Where do you see yourself in five years?

According to Hays, interviewers ask this question to understand your career ambition, long-term interest in your field and whether this job aligns with your aspirations.

To answer this question, find the commonalities between your career ambitions and this job. For example, “In five years’ time I’d like to be a valued employee who has deep expertise in XYZ. I believe I’d have the opportunity to develop such expertise over time in this role.”

2. What are your weaknesses?

Adam says this question is asked to determine how self-aware you are and whether you act to overcome your shortfalls.

Think of a real-life weakness, but make sure it’s a nice-to-have skill not a key requirement of the job. In the interview, explain the steps you’re taking to overcome your weakness. This shows you are solutions-focused and a lifelong learner.

3. Tell me about yourself

Start your answer with a brief overview of your educational and professional background. Then mention the relevant skills and expertise that make you suitable for this job. Adam says it’s important to include a measurable example to support your claims. Finally, succinctly explain why you want this role, at this organisation.

4. Why are you the best person for the job?

Focus on your top three or four strengths, with an example or details to support each. Link these to the competencies required in the job so that you form a picture in the interviewer’s mind of you excelling in the role.

5. What is your salary expectation?

Before the interview, Adam says you should research typical salaries for your job in a current Salary Guide. You can then confidently tell your interviewer your salary expectations, backed up by evidence.

For example, “Based on my research of similar jobs as well as data from the recent Hays Salary Guide, I understand that comparable roles are currently offering between X and Y. My expectations are in line with this.”

The recruiter spoke to skilled professionals for its annual Hays Salary Guide.


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