Job hunting? How to handle those tricky interview questions…
You’re over the moon to hear that you’ve been invited to interview for your dream job – but all too quickly those feelings of joy turn into pangs of anxiety as you start worrying about your interview performance. Whether you’ve had a career break and feel your interview techniques are a bit rusty or are changing career and are nervous about interviewing for a different industry, interview preparation is the key to success.
Confidence and career coach Fiona Clark, from Inspired Mums, is here to lay your interview fears to rest by sharing her top tips on how to answer those tricky questions and land your dream job.
Tricky question #1
“Tell me about yourself…”
This is the often the first question a prospective employer will ask so it’s crucial to prepare your answer before the interview. Preparing ahead will allow you to create a powerful first impression rather than being left feeling flustered and thrown off on a tangent.
It’s important to realise that the employer is looking for a succinct overview of your career, rather than a blow-by-blow account of your CV. Make sure you use this question as an opportunity to get across any themes in your career that demonstrate what motivates you and what you are naturally interested in – for example people development or project management. It’s also a good time to reference some of your key skills that illustrate why you are a great fit for this particular role (use the job advert or description as a guide to help you here.)
Tricky question #2
“What are your weaknesses?”
Try not to come up with the classic textbook answer “I’m a perfectionist” – there’s a danger it may sound too contrived. The best way to answer this question is to think of one genuine development area and explain how you are working on it. For example “I know when I’m under time pressure I can sometimes become quiet and communicate less with the people around me. I’m working on raising my awareness of this issue and proactively building time in my day to keep others informed of what’s going on.”
At the risk of stating the obvious – never pick a weakness that the recruiter has said is an essential skill for the role.
Tricky question #3
“There appears to be a gap in your CV. What were you doing during this time?”
So many mums worry how they will answer this particular question – my advice is don’t be embarrassed to have taken a career break to bring up your kids. Instead give a brief and positive answer such as, “I took 6 years out to be with my children while they were young. They are both now at school and I feel ready and motivated to re-enter the workplace and focus more on myself and my career again.” I would also mention anything interesting you have done during your career break – such as volunteering, fundraising work or any training courses you have undertaken to keep your skills up to date.
Tricky question #4
“Why do you want this role?”
This is one of the most important questions you need to prepare for. Whilst it can be tempting to say the first thing that pings into your head such as “because you offer flexible working” or “you are nice and local to my home”, take advantage of this opportunity to communicate your passion for the specific role itself. Remember to articulate why you find the role appealing and what in particular attracts you to this company/ industry, for example, “I am passionate about helping others and feel my customer service skills could make a real difference to your business…”
If you need help selling yourself with impact at interview, contact Fiona@inspiredmums.co.uk or phone 07789 597209.
Fiona Clark is a qualified confidence and career coach who founded Inspired Mums to inspire women to reach their full potential at work. She is passionate about helping women find fulfilling, family friendly roles.
Download Fiona’s FREE e-book – “For mums stuck in a career rut – 8 steps to finding work you love” TODAY. It’s packed with tips, exercises and inspiring case studies to get you out of your rut and on the way to your new career.
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