How to Answer Those’s Really Tough Interview Questions

Enjoying a successful interview in today’s competitive technology job market can be a challenging feat. If you want to be prepared for your next interview, then you need to know how to answer the complex, questions your hiring manager is likely to ask the next time you apply for the job of a lifetime.  

Hiring managers aren’t picking complicated questions to stress you out or throw you off your game. Remember, like you’re looking for the perfect role, the company you’re interviewing with are looking for the ideal candidate. Those tough questions are your interviewer’s chance to get a deeper understanding of who you are, and what makes you a good fit for the organisation.  

Here, we’ll look at 5 tough interview questions, and how you can answer them.  

 

1. Questions About Co-workers: “How Did You Feel About Your Last Team?”

Most staff members won’t work in a silo, disconnected from the rest of the business. That means that when your hiring manager wants to see how you’ll work as part of a team, they’ll ask about your previous experiences with other employees. For instance, they might ask, “How did you feel about the people you worked with in your last role?” 

The key here is to stay away from negative answers. If you don’t have anything positive to say about your old coworkers, be honest and professional in your reply, such as: “We had a few debates on how individual projects should be handled; it’s natural I guess. I have always been a team player. In fact, on my last project I…” 

Emphasise how you developed your rapport building skills to connect with colleagues who communicated and worked in a different way to yourself.

Give examples of project teams that you were part of and what roles you had in the various teams
and what the outcomes of the projects were.

Remember that any interviewing manager knows that not everyone in a team will be ‘best friends’. What they are looking for is how you handle situations.

 

2. Questions About Failure: “Tell Me About a Time When You Didn’t Succeed”

During any interview experience, the hiring manager you speak to will want to assess your abilities, and how you’re going to impact the existing team, you are soon to be a part of. Though they’ll want to see examples of your achievements, and the things you might have accomplished in the past, they’ll also be interested in finding out how you respond to failure.  

No-one wins all the time.  

The key to being successful with your answers here is to think about how you can discuss what you learned from your mistakes. Explain how a previous situation went wrong, then tell your interviewer how you adapted to the experience, and what you’ve done to reduce the risk of similar problems occurring in the future. For instance, if you didn’t meet a deadline to implement a programme on time because a client was too vague with their specifications, you might have come up with a more intuitive way to ask for briefs from future customers.

 

3. Questions About Weakness: “Describe Your Biggest Flaw?”

This is another interview question that can be complicated and a challenge to answer. When you’re trying to make sure that you show your most “hireable” side to the business, it can seem counterproductive to highlight your flaws. However, with this question, your hiring manager is looking to see that you’re willing to accept your development areas and deal with them.  

Avoid telling your interviewer that you don’t have any shortcomings, or offer vague answers like “I’m a perfectionist”. Instead, be honest about the things that you’re not great at. Try to choose a something that isn’t going to be a deal breaker based on what you learned from the job description, then show the company that you’re currently focused on a process of self-development, intended to help you improve your skills and abilities.  

 

4. Questions About Motivation:

The purpose of an interview is for employers to understand more about candidates and how they will fit into the company culture as well as their fit for a role. A part of this will be finding out more about who you are, and what motivates you towards success.

Contrary to what many people think, salary isn’t the No 1 motivator. Yes, we all need it to support ourselves and families, and there is far more to this question.

The most common question you will be asked is “What motivates you?”, sometimes you may hear, “What’s important to you about the job you do and your career?”

This kind of question explore your “values”, and the interviewer is looking to see if your own personal values align with the values of the company you are applying to work for.

Examples of what motivates individuals are;  

  • Having interesting and meaningful work 
  • Being able to use their skills fully 
  • Opportunities to contribute outside their primary role responsibilities 
  • Development opportunities 
  • Working alone, or with others depending on the role 
  • Achieving goals 
  • Seeing a career pathway 
  • Personal and team recognition 
  • Having close working relationships with colleagues 
  • Flexible working opportunities 
  • Working with an inspiring manager 

While it can be easy to check out your prospective employer’s values on their website and
talk about things that relate to these values, if you don’t share these values
you are at risk of talking yourself into a role and company that you are likely to be unhappy in.

Be clear at the outset of any interview what is important to you about a new role and the company.

 

5. Questions about Goals: “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years”

Most employers want to know that the people that they hire have ambitions and passion. In other words, have an idea of what you want to accomplish not just in general, but in the context of your potential new role within a team.

Think about where you’d like your career to go if you were offered the job, and what you could do to improve your chances of reaching your own personal career aspirations. For instance, if you’re hoping to be a team leader in three years, how are you going to make that a reality? 

Although there’s nothing wrong with talking about how the company in question could support you to achieve your goals; don’t make it sound like your future rests entirely on your new employer’s shoulders. It’s up to you to make sure you can drive your own career growth. 

Gut reactions are not something to bring to the hiring process

hiring-processWe have interviewed many applicants for jobs within our company. So as employers we understand that when interviewing you often get a ‘gut feeling’ about an applicant. And typically many interviewers rely on this ‘gut feeling’ when trying to make a decision between two applicants within the hiring process. And whilst it is hard to ignore at times, hiring decisions based on feelings are a definite no-no.

What really matter within the decision making process is choosing an individual based on whether they have the ability to do the job and that they can add value to the company.

Going with your ‘gut feeling’ can be very costly to a company. Reports have shown that the hiring failure rate for hiring based on ‘gut reactions’ is 50%. In real terms, the out of pocket cost to an employer is around £13k to £29k in the first 3 to 6 months. Of course, you could also argue this statistic the other way round, that you have a 50/50 chance of hiring the perfect person… but is really worth the risk? The answer, if it wasn’t obvious, is no.  

An interviewer’s gut reaction generally comes from past experiences and emotions. But, you need to remember what is important in the on-boarding process, and that is their ability to the job. When making hiring decisions based on gut feeling, you tend to forget this important factor.

To ensure you conduct a gut-feeling-free interview, we suggest that you carry out a more data driven interview. One that is based on hard facts and the careful use of competency based questions to determine future behaviours.  To get more hiring process advice, see our employers tab here.

Resource On Demand (ROD) is Europe’s first specialist Salesforce Recruitment Agency. They were founded in 2007 and are highly respected across the entire Salesforce ecosystem. Their specialist areas of recruitment include; Salesforce (SFDC); digital marketing and marketing automation technologies, which include Eloqua, Marketo, ExactTarget and Pardot; Human Capital Management (HCM) technologies such as Workday and SAP HCM and SuccessFactors. For more information contact ROD on rod@resourceondemand.com or on 020 8123 7769.