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Career

5 tricky interview questions and how to successfully answer them

Have you ever walked out of a job interview wondering if you answered the questions correctly? Here's how to impress.

1. Can you tell me about yourself?
This question can stump interviewees if they don't know how much or little to tell. It's best to keep your answer to a minute or two at most as this is often asked at the start of an interview as a rapport-building question.
Narelle Hess, organisational psychologist at Challenge Consulting, says you should briefly outline your career to date. "The key to remember is that this is a job interview so the information provided should be job-relevant," Hess says. "Give a short summary of your most recent experience, key skills, and any relevant interests — be succinct and don't tell your whole life story."
2. What are your weaknesses?
Employers ask this to understand how you manage your weaknesses so they don't impact your work performance.
Melissa Johnston, career consultant at Suzie Plush Consulting, says people who don't prepare for this question before the interview struggle with answering it in the right way. "Turn one of your weaknesses into a positive by wording it appropriately," Johnston says.
For example, if you say that your weakness is that you are a perfectionist, then you should be prepared to explain how you overcame it by developing your organisational skills in past roles to ensure you prioritised and met competing deadlines.
3. Where do you see yourself in five/ten years time?
No one expects you to know exactly what you will be doing five or ten years from now. But if you can show how the role you are applying for fits in with your general long-term career plan, it will signal to employers you are motivated and capable of personal growth.
Start off by explaining why the job will help you develop your desired skills. Research the company's organisational structure so you can say what new responsibilities you may wish to take on in the future.
If employers can see that you want to succeed in this role as part of your long-term plan, they will be more likely to decide you will perform well in the job.
4. Can you tell me about a time when you had to make an unpopular decision?
This is a behavioural-based question that is designed to predict your future behaviour in the workplace, says Johnston. It is best to prepare for behavioural-based questions by coming with examples that show when you have successfully solved problems.
Look at the position description and the key competencies required for the job, as these are usually where behavioural-based questions are drawn from.
5. Have you ever not got on with a manager or colleague? Why?
Here employers want to know how you manage challenging situations.
To demonstrate that you can be proactive in resolving conflict, give an example of when you were faced with a challenging person at work and go through the steps you took to improve the relationship.

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