Naturally interviews make us nervous. The thought of difficult interview questions, unknown surroundings, and the daunting possibility that your interviewer could be like Claude from the Apprentice can really toy with your imagination. Especially as all you really want is to get the job – not answer seemingly pointless questions like ‘what colour are you?’ or ‘explain how you’d dig a hippo out of a hole?’!
From experiences of our own (good & bad), here at The Jobs Menu we believe we have gathered 10 of the most frequently asked, yet difficult interview questions you could get stumped with. Our aim’s to inspire your answers and help you ace the interview for the job of your dreams.
1) What did you like the least about your last employer?
Now, here’s not the time to go on a 45 minute rant raging about your old boss. Nit picking at anything and everything is not what the interviewer is looking for. They want to see you react in a calm collected manner and are only looking for one negative e.g.
“There wasn’t the opportunity for internal progression” or “there weren’t many opportunities to broaden my skill set.”
Make everything have a positive twist, nobody likes a negative nelly!
2) Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work?
Here’s the perfect chance to show what skills you possess. Tell them about the mistake and then completely turn it around by telling them how you rectified the situation and what skills you used to do this. A positive ending is always the way to end difficult interview questions like this.
3) What sets you apart from other applicants?
This is definitely not the time to say a useless talent e.g. “I can touch my nose with my tongue.” The interviewer wants to hear about your career progression, how you’re willing to work hard, your excitement to learn and what you can bring to the table that would make you ideal for that role.
4) What has been the biggest disappointment of your life?
Try not to recite this question back to the interviewer in a shocked and slightly surprised tone! They are fully aware that they have just asked you a tricky question and repeating it makes you look discouraged and uncertain. As this is more of a personal based question you can answer this by talking about facing one of your major fears e.g. a fear of heights. Then recover by saying how you’ve made a conscious effort since to try and push yourself to overcome this fear. Depending on your interview surroundings you may want to use this to add a little humor. If you are applying for chef role you could say that your disappointment is isn’t perfecting a certain dish e.g. a soufflé . You’ve always thought something is missing and that you would love to learn how to do this.
5) How do you know you will stay with us?
If you have been moving from job to job on a frequent basis (less than a year) and are genuinely looking to ground yourself for longer then just be honest! Explain that this role looks like the ideal move for you and explain what you are looking for in your new employer e.g. As long as your skills and work ethic are contributing to the team and business, and the opportunities to learn and progress in a good working environment are available, then you can see yourself being very happy. If you work in the hospitality industry it’s well known that certain roles have a high staff turnover. For example it’s extremely common that front of house and kitchen staff may move on regularly, not for any negative reasons but just to experience different venues and styles of hospitality.
6) Are you over qualified for this job?
Never say yes! And do not brag about how many qualifications you have, the interviewer is looking for you to say something on the lines of…
“Yes I have qualifications but it doesn’t mean I’m over qualified, I believe that in every role there is always something to learn and I am looking forward to share my own knowledge as well as gain knowledge from other collogues.”
Bottom line is that learning never ends and let’s face it you learn something new every day in the hospitality industry, it’s what we do!
7) Tell me about yourself…
Here you can talk about your personal and professional life but the interviewer isn’t looking for an autobiography, keep it short and sweet e.g. You could mention if you’re married or recently engaged. Talk about any hobbies you may have and let them know if you enjoy doing any sport in your free time. Another plus point would be to talk about how your job has inspired you to help others e.g. any local charity work or volunteer work that you have undertaken.. This is the ideal time to softly boast about any positive achievements and show your personality.
8) What’s your biggest weakness?
Do not say your biggest weakness is being too organized or too much of a perfectionist. Interviewers are completely over hearing this answer and let’s be honest you’re probably lying… Talk the truth but don’t spill all the beans e.g.
I used to struggle working in a large team; I thought my ideas and opinions were unacknowledged. Now I’ve worked extremely hard and gained experience, I believe my personality has really flourished and I’m now confident in voicing my opinions and directing a team when needed.
Once again make sure you end with a positive and explain how your “weakness” has helped you to develop your skills or personality.
9) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Most of us would like to say “I hope to be sitting on a sunny beach with a cocktail in my hand after winning the lottery” but that’s just hopeful thinking. One of the best ways to answer this question is to think about what you’ve achieved over the past 5 years, picking highlights and using them to implement in your next 5 year plan. The interviewer wants to find out more about your goals and aspirations, and how this job would fit into your grand plan. An enthusiastic answer is vital as nobody wants to hire someone who has no goals or dreams.
10) Bring in an item to the interview and tell us how it best describes you…
This is an exciting one! You can really sell yourself from this, but one huge no no is DO NOT TAKE YOUR PHONE. You always have your mobile phone with you, and yes it does lots of things, and yes it is portable – but your interviewer will not be impressed. It looks like you forgot (or couldn’t be bothered) to bring anything which indicates a lack of effort and organization. Here are a couple of examples but we recommend that you think of something that’s personal to you:
A small plant in a plant pot – This is your current work surroundings and you feel you need to be in a larger plant pot with fresh soil (your new job) and with the correct water and food you can grow to be successful
A key – when you’ve found the right locks you can open doors to your future.
A diary – You are a book unwritten but when you look back on previous pages you have all the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. You have plenty of room to write down new experiences.
Hopefully you’re feeling inspired! It’s important to tailor your answers to your interview surroundings and what type of job you’re interviewing for. The most important thing with difficult interview questions though is to remember to keep calm and let your personality shine. Taking your time to answer questions not only gives you time to think, but also shows that you are taking the questions and the interview process seriously.
So don’t panic…
But if all else fails you can always try visualising them in their pants,
Best of luck,
The Fairy Job Mother
If you’re currently looking for work in the hospitality or catering industry why not have a look at some of the great opportunities that are available through The Jobs Menu.