How to answer difficult interview questions Part 1

Interview technique is a huge part of getting a new job. A great looking CV is the first step and you need to renew all your information and write everything in a clear and short-to-the-point way. BUt all that CV work will be for nothing if you can’t speak well at the interview stage.

Of course there are interview essentials that are absolutely basic, but not everyone does them…


  • Arrive 10 minutes before your interview
  • Look washed, clean and be dressed for the culture of the company you are applying for
  • Have a firm handshake when you meet people
  • Speak clearly, calmly and confidently (using your best Business English vocabulary)
  • Look people in the eye when you are speaking to them
  • Smile occasionally!


You should speak about your strengths without going over the top and saying that you are incredible at everything.

You could also briefly mention some things that you are not brilliant at, but want to improve about your work or yourself. This shows humility, self-awareness and honesty. It is usually received well by HR people and bosses.


There are boring standard questions that get asked at every interview (e.g. why do you want to leave your current job? Why do you want to work for us etc), but more and more companies are asking leftfield, off-the-wall and unusual questions to see what kind of a person you are.

A famous example is the horse-sized duck question which was first asked by Price Waterhouse Cooper for a six-figure salary job…

How would you describe yourself in just one word?

This is a question that you have to think about BEFORE the interview. If you try to think of an answer spontaneously, you might say something weak. On your CV, you might have put a heading like “Key Attributes” and had 3 keywords that describe you and your work ethic. So, you could choose one of these words – the one word that you can talk about and what you are saying sounds believable 🙂

Maybe think about this for a few seconds before answering, so that you don’t seem toooo confident, but actually look like you are carefully thinking about it.

If I asked people who know you the best to describe you in 3 adjectives, what would they tell me?

Again, this is a question that you should have prepared before the interview. As mentioned above, 3 characteristics of you as an employee are something you should think about for your CV… this question is just an extension of that process, where you can justify the ‘boasting about yourself’ that you did on your CV.

BUt you can give some breadth in this answer: talk about the guy you buy milk from, a neighbour, your last boss, a friend who works in a different industry. Show that you have a wide social life. This ia also a time to be humble and not say everything is amazing about you. Show some humility and don’t use 3 synonyms of ‘amazing’ to describe yourself!

What would be your superpower?

This is a fun question. How you answer it will say a lot about your personality. Are you fun to work with? Are you super serious and analytical? Can you think quickly on your feet? Are you creative?

YOu could say that would like to be able to fly: you could go and see the world and from a different perspective, showing that you value culture, new experiences and look at the world in a different way.

If you choose being invisible, you could talk about a lot of weird things, but does it mean that you are people-friendly and would get on well with your potential colleagues?

Think about this Q&A as a pre-interview exercise

What is your favourite quote and why?

If you don’t have a quote ready for this, it might show that you are not interested in self-progress or betterment or that you are not well read. There is no right or wrong answer to the quote question, but having something that you care about and have a passion for outside of business life is always a good thing for a job candidate.

My favourite quote is from Ernest Shackleton (a polar explorer from the beginning of the 20th Century): “By Endurance, we conquer”. So, your quote does not have to be long. It could be a quote by Jimi Hendrix, a television character or anyone. Just make sure that you can talk about why the sentence means something to your life and your values as a person.

If you got the job and we were sitting here in 12 months time, what would we have achieved together?

You should answer this by talking about several things:

  • How you have fitted in to the company with the team around you and made new friends and have become confident in the workplace
  • How you have learnt your role and enjoyed that challenge
  • How you have adopted the company culture and worked towards the brand essence, culture and vision.

These answers will prove that you know how to be a productive, open and happy employee that any company would love to have. Make sure you do your homework before the interview to know about the company, the role you are applying for and the company big picture and future.

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