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Lottie Sharland31 Oct 2019
  • Advice
  • Work Advice

5 Really Mean Interview Questions And How To Answer Them

You’ve done your homework, you’re looking smart, and you’ve swatted up on everything there is to know about the company you’re interviewing at. You know their mission statement, all about their clients and even how your potential new boss takes her tea. But even though this is all crucial knowledge (maybe not so much the tea part) when it comes to being fully prepared for an interview it’s only half the story.

Up until the interview you will have solely been judged on your CV achievements and qualifications, the interview stage is now about assessing who you are in real life, rather than just on paper. It’s a chance for the interviewer to get to know you as a person and asses how you will react not just to the job but also the office environment and your colleagues, allowing them to ultimately decide whether you are the type of person that they can see growing in the role and thriving at the company.

At Anderson Hoare we have a lot of interview experience, we interview new candidates every day and we also spend a lot of time preparing our candidates for job interviews, ensuring that they present themselves in the best way possible and have all the relevant information they need. We’ve heard some great, and some awful, interview stories and there are a few tricky questions that come up time and time again. Preparation really is key is below we’ve highlighted how to prepare for some of the meanest questions that can be thrown at you.

Describe one of your weaknesses?

With this one, forward planning is essential. Think of something that doesn’t directly influence your performance at work and something that can easily be improved. For example, you could say, I’m not as confident as I’d like to be at speaking in front of lots of people and this is something I’d really like to work on.

If I asked your best friend to describe you, what would they say?

Here the interviewer is trying to get a feel for your character and how you’ll fit into the office dynamic. As a PA or EA you’ll be working closely with your boss so knowing how other people close to you would describe This is a great opportunity to show your personality, but you need to be watchful of how you phrase your answer. For example, although, ‘a lot of fun and always up for a good time’ makes you sound like you’d be great on a night out, it could give the wrong impression for day to day office life. Instead maybe say she’d describe you as having a cheerful disposition and describe a time that you turned a negative situation into a positive one to back it up.

Tell me about a time you’ve failed

This is about making sure that you can face up to your failures, learn from them and move on. Don’t focus on something that will make you look sloppy or careless, instead mention a time when you perhaps tried something new or implanted a new system and explain how it went wrong, how you dealt with it and what you learned from the experience.

What don’t you like about the sound of the job spec?

Take a responsibility from the job spec that you aren’t as confident in and be open about saying that that isn’t an area you have huge amounts of experience in, but you see it as a brilliant opportunity to learn and grown professionally. The job you are applying for is likely to be a step up from the one you are currently in and your potential employer will be keen to see that you are excited about taking on a challenge and really keen to thrown yourself into it and grow within the role.

Tell me about yourself

This is not an invitation to explain your entire life story. Rather this is a way for the interviewer to get a feel for who you are as a person and what has led you to this point in your professional life. It’s good to prepare this one in advance so it flows and ends at what has bought you to the interview. Start by briefly explaining your academic achievements followed by your job history stating your skills and achievements you’re most proud of. Then explain where you say the job ad (or how you were made aware of it) and what stood out about it and made you want to apply.

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