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Dealing with tough interview questions

Tough Interview Questions

Preparing for questions is a naturally essential part of interview planning. You need to know your CV and any LinkedIn profile that you have inside out. Also, your story and about you.

Remember you need to be an expert on you.

If you have watched the BBC television programme, Dragons Den, you will have seen people pitch their business ideas to business investors. Often the pitches are very well put together with some excellent unique business ideas worthy of investment. Unfortunately, the people pitching become potential unstuck when they have to answer the Dragons questions.

The questions are normally about the financials and evaluation of the business.

What is amazing is that the people pitching have not fully prepared themselves and struggle to answer the questions and secure the financial investment that they are seeking.

On several occasions the people pitching will even say, ‘I thought you might ask me that?’ and the dragons and everyone watching the programme will be thinking the same thing, ‘then why didn’t you prepare?’.

A job is no different, be an expert on your competencies and be an expert on you.

A skeleton in the cupboard

As we all know sometimes in our career’s things don’t go as we would hope or plan. We might have had to leave a job at short notice and not under our own terms and these can show up on our CV.

Or we might have made a wrong decision and we do not really want to highlight it or talk about it.

To be fair, good recruiters will discover your history with their particularly good questioning skills. I’m not saying we have literally got a skeleton in the cupboard but there might be areas we would rather not have to discuss.

However, blagging and lying are not options you will get found out, end of story.

Deal full on with the issue.

Do not get caught out Dragons Den style and sit there and think, ‘I knew you were going to ask me that’


Do not leave it until the interview and hope you can blag it or that they do not ask about it.

Write down the issue and possible ways you could be asked about the situation. Think about how you can turn it in to a positive, what you learnt about the situation / experience and explain how you would now deal with the situation.

Think carefully about two or three ways to answer the question. Get some help from someone you trust and run it past them and practice.

But more than importantly practice in front of a video. Here’s why.

If you have a challenging question to answer you need to think about three things.

1. Your answer which we have just mentioned. Get it right.

2. Your tone of voice. They will watch for this to see how you cope under the pressure of a tough question.

3. Your body language. It is telling the interviewer that you are feeling the pressure and are not sure how to answer or that you are confident and can deal with the situation.

Practice by recording yourself on your laptop/phone how you would answer and deal with a difficult question. Play it back and look out for your tone and body language, they will tell your interviewer a lot.

One of the best analogies to this is a professional golfer when playing golf.

In every round of golf they expect to end up having a very difficult shot, perhaps out of a hedge or bunker. In my case, out from behind every obstacle on the golf course! I will make a hash of it, use inappropriate language and get annoyed with myself as I have just messed up and lost the hole.

A professional golfer will calmly analyse the situation and amazingly play a great shot to get back on track. Why and how? Because they practice and practice.

They know at some stage they are going to be faced with an exceedingly difficult shot in the same way you know you are going to be faced with an exceedingly difficult question.

So Please Practice.

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