3 Impossible questions employers will throw at you


3 Impossible questions employers will throw at you

In a roundup of our series on getting yourself onto a graduate scheme we've come to the final process for securing yourself onto one of these prestigious and competitive routes into a career. We've covered all the traditional stages of getting yourself onto a scheme and now we're at the final hurdle you'll have to overcome - the interview. It is no easy feat getting to this stage, you will have well and truly been through the wringer to get to this point and this is where they will filter the best from the very best.

Much is written about performing well at interviews, the majority of the information provided by a quick google search tells you all the things you should already know - shine your shoes, look smart, don't fist bump the interview, the usual sort of stuff. But there is little quality advice on answering difficult questions and making sure you leave interview with your name on the top of the list for employment.

So with this in mind here are the most difficult questions you might be asked at interview:

1. Why should we employ you?

The odds on this question coming up at some point are as short as they come. This is a time-worn classic question that makes the interviewee squirm, so it is one that you should certainly be preparing for. Not only is it an incredibly loaded question it also test you on several fronts. How confident are you in yourself? How suitable do you think you are for this job? What do you know about the position? Do you even want this job?

To knock the question out the park, you need to simply perform a little game of Snap. You need to have a list of several points mixing from personal and professional ambitions and the expectations and desires of the employers and make it appear like them and you are just meant to be, in heavenly matrimony.

Obviously this is a little bit more tricky, but the easier you can make it seem like this role was designed with you in mind, the more successful you are going to be. It is important here to really put thought into your answer here ensuring you're backing it up with research into the company. And with it almost certainly going to come up, it won't be time wasted.

2. What are your weaknesses?

This is also an uncovered trap that employers are inviting you to dive straight into. But do not worry. It is an extremely difficult question to answer and if you're not careful you can tie yourself in knots. You might think your concentration and can sometimes let you down, but will the employers think that is too bad? It might be your time keeping, but would they employ someone who is likely to be late every now and again? Before you know it your toing and froing and getting yourself in a massive fluster.

It is a demanding question and tells the employer more about you than you will ever want it to. The first thing to remember when prepping for a question like this is to know what there is no right or wrong answer. Some experts have argued that employers use this question to see how you've overcome certain obstacles and whether or not you are resilient to difficult problems.

While this might be true, employers are also checking you're human. They are looking for good candidates that they will be able to work with. This means if one of your flaws is that your snappy in the mornings, it might be advised to think of another one.

In all seriousness, the main thing to be is honest. If you start spouting some metaphysical weaknesses you have employers will clock you're trying to bullshit them. It is OK if your weaknesses are things on the job description that you're not totally on point with but make sure their not deal breakers.
Oh and for the love of god don't say you're just a perfectionist, you work too hard or you care too much.

3. Where do you see yourself in five years?

The last of our tricky trio of interview questions, employers are looking to see a few things with your carefully worded response to this little question. Where do you see yourself in five years is asking both how ambitious are you and is it worth you taking your coat off if you are offered this job. This is an especially pertinent question to ask graduates as they are perceived by HR-types to be flakey and show a lack of loyalty to companies.

So, if you've done your research right, you'll know the possibilities and career paths the schemes can offer you. This is the same for careers that offer very structured career paths and outlined stages of progression, like can be seen in Accountancy, Engineering or Law. While for other graduate jobs the future career can be a little more open.

The important thing here is, and be careful with this, is to tell them what they want to hear but make it believable. Employers are not going to be impressed if you say you're only going to take this job to rack up a bit of cash and then go travelling. But then nor are they going to believe you if you say you've always been dreaming of this junior role and show no ambition. To be successful in your answer to this question you need to strike the balance between being ambitious, loyal and realistic - no matter how honest you're being.

By James Howell

Read more from our Graduate Scheme Season blog series

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