8 tricky questions at the interview

8 tricky questions at the interview
and how to answer them

You've been invited to interview for your dream job and you're starting your preparation. You're certainly thinking about the most likely questions you might expect. Each question the recruiter asks you during the interview has a precise meaning and reason. In this article, we'll show you which questions you might encounter, what their purpose is, and how can you answer.

1. Tell me about yourself

This is usually one of the first questions you'll get in an interview. This common question is very important, and often, it´s a base for following questions you ´ll be asked during the interview. It is a very open question, so do not expect you should start telling your life's journey. Recruiters ask this question to find out how you got to where you are now in your career and what was your motivation to apply for this position.
For example, if you're a sales manager for a local company and you're interviewed for a similar role, but in an international company that can bring you new experiences and opportunities, you might answer like this:
"I graduated from university with a degree in international business and during my studies I realised how interesting and fulfilling the business environment is."
Then summarise your relevant experience with sales:
"I gained my first experience in assistant positions in sales departments, mostly in logistics, and gradually worked my way up to Key Account Manager at XY company, and later to Sales Manager for the Czech Republic, where I led a team of five sales representatives."
Then finish your answer by explaining why you are at the interview:
"I would now like to move on within my role, ideally through an international position where I see a lot of scope for gaining further experience."
This answer will make it clear that you are the right candidate for the job.

2. Can you give an example of a time when you have successfully implemented an innovation?

In recent years, questions about innovation or process optimization have become very popular and frequent, so it is possible that they will come up in your interview too. This is happening because employers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to be constantly prepared for the latest digital, system and industry changes. And because of these constant changes, they also need employees who are not only unafraid of these changes but can also come up with innovative ideas themselves.
Try to think of a situation when you came up with an idea that has resulted in an interesting result. When answering, follow the "STAR" technique:
"S" - Situation - Evaluate the situation:
"When I worked as a key account manager in the logistics sector, I often came across situations where my clients were facing the issue of lack of information regarding new regulations for greener operations."
"T" - Task - Describe your task and involvement:
"I saw this as an opportunity to expand our portfolio of services by professional trainings. I spoke to my manager and offered to secure an external partner to supply the necessary know-how."
"A" - Action - Describe your idea:
"With the help of this external partner, we put together a seminar on this topic and started offering it not only to our clients, but to other potential customers as well."
"R" - Result - Present your results:
"As a result, almost eighty companies attended our seminars on this topic, we gained 7 new clients and the industry training remained in our service offering and we continue to expand the topics. Last year, our training programs earned us XY Czk."

3. Can you describe a situation when you failed in your job?

The very word "fail" often puts candidates on the defensive. The worst thing that can be done in this case is to say that nothing like this ever happened. It is important to remember that the recruiter is not trying to catch you out, but wants to know about your failures, how you overcame them and how you learned from your mistakes.
Your failures don't have to be dramatic – you can mention a fairly common situation that anyone can get into, such as missing a deadline or failing to meet your set goals. As you answer this question, prepare a scene where you paint a clear picture of the situation and describe what you took away from it for the future. For example: 
"When I was a marketing manager at Company X, I was tasked with coordinating the launch of our first company magazine. A release date was set, but I underestimated how long it would take to put together complete content from all the external contributors. The planned release of the publication was delayed by a week. Although the magazine was well received, our clients expected to receive it sooner. As a result, I now know that I need to give myself enough time to work with external contributors and carefully decide on deadlines. "

4. Are you willing to work overtime?

This question may have a twofold reason. Either overtime is a common occurrence in the company, in which case the employer should be honest with you about it and make it clear what kind of involvement they expect from their employees. Since overtime work is usually not that sought after, the second reason may simply be to see how you react to such a question.
You can clearly and categorically refuse overtime, which may give the impression that you are not committed enough to the job. If you don't want to do regular overtime but understand that there may be situations that need to be dealt with, we recommend answering as follows:
"I completely understand that urgent situations may arise at work that will require occasional overtime, for example, to meet a deadline. It is quite common for me to give extra time to work in such cases. However, I am usually able to schedule my duties efficiently enough to be able to complete them during standard working hours."
This will show both your understanding of unusual situations that require some flexibility, as well as enough assertiveness and your good organizational skills.

5. Why we should choose you

This is the question you usually hear in the final stages of the selection process. Here you have a unique opportunity to summarise your strengths and your motivation, and your answer can greatly help you get the job. However, the question also has a hidden subtext. Can you capture in your answer what the company expects from the candidate and what is important to the company? Do you understand what the position entails and who the company is looking for? If you do, plus you meet these attributes, good for you, you will find it easy to answer.
There is no universally correct answer to this question as it is very individual, but we still give examples.
Do you have little experience so far? For example, you could answer like this:
"I am aware that my work experience is short for now, and I expect to have a lot to learn. That's why I'm really pleased that there is so much room for that in your company. I believe that my current experience will give me a good foundation to break into new areas quickly."
If you are already an experienced worker, your answer can be, for example:
"I have many years of experience in sales, and specifically in your XXX industry, and I believe I can put it to good use at your company and develop it further. I really like the opportunity to focus on new markets. Your XY product has great potential and the opportunity to work with it and gain not only new clients, but also new experiences are a great motivation for me."

6. How would your friends describe you?

A very popular question used by many companies and one of the most common interview questions. The interviewer is looking to find out on two specific levels - namely how your personality would suit the role and how you would fit in with the team and the company. Start first with what qualities of yours are suited to the role and try to highlight strengths.
For example, if you're applying for the sales role, you might say that your friends describe you as a sociable person and a good listener. By choosing these qualities, you will demonstrate that you can build long-term relationships with people, including potential clients.
For example, "I believe that my friends and family would describe me as a friendly person and a good listener. I believe these qualities can be put to good use in a sales environment, especially in building relationships with clients and determining their business needs."
The important thing, however, is to be honest, and not try to impress the other party at any cost.

7. What are your salary expectations?

The person conducting your interview has a set budget for each position. This is usually a range that considers the amount of experience and skills of the candidate. Ideally, the recruiter should also know what the salary range is for a similar position in the region. You should also know the salary offered before you attend the interview. Either your consultant from the recruitment agency will provide this information, or if you are dealing with the company directly, they should inform you about the salary level during the initial phone call.
You, on the other hand, should know your value. You can discuss your salary expectations with your consultant, who has a good idea of what the current market situation is. Your salary requirement is likely to be based on your current valuation, where you should consider your length of experience as well as the skills you can offer the new employer. You can also compare your salary to the market by looking at available salary guides.
If you have communicated your salary expectations to the company, you should not change or increase them significantly during the selection process. The question of expected salary is likely to come up at the end of the first round of interviews.

8. Do you have any other questions?

If your interview was a pleasant conversation and you asked some questions already during the interview, it's okay if you don't have additional questions. On the other hand, this is your opportunity to show that you are interested in the company and the job and that you are seriously considering it as your next career.
Of course - even if this is not the case and you know the position is not for you, don't underestimate your performance in the interview, or this final part. You never know when and where you will run into this recruiter sometime in the future, it's a small world. So always and under all circumstances, try to make a good impression.
You can ask questions that have come out of the topics you have discussed, for example in relation to the job, the team or the next steps in the selection process but be careful not to ask questions that have already been answered during the interview, try to keep as focused as possible.
For example, you can ask:
  • Can you describe your company's work culture in more detail?
  • What are the next steps in the selection process?
If you are speaking directly with your potential supervisor, you can ask, for example:
  • What aspect of your work here at the company do you enjoy the most?
  • What is the most important thing I should accomplish in this position by the end of my probation period?
We hope that the above information will give you a better idea of what these questions aim to achieve; and more importantly, advise you on how to give sufficiently strong and honest answers that will help you succeed in competition with other candidates.


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