Part 2: Interview Questions designed to trip you up! By CEO Barry Whelan

Following on from Part 1 of Interview Questions designed to trip you up, CEO of Excel Recruitment takes you through more tricky questions and how best to answer them…

The best interviewers develop their ability to ask the fewest number of questions that give the most amount of information. Strong recruiters manage to get the interviewees to do all the work. The best interviewers also have the ability to gain the truth from a candidate. This can be done in two ways, ask the same question multiple ways watching out for conflicting or different answers or by asking seemingly simple questions that get the interviewee to reveal information they may have been trying to conceal

In other words: questions designed to trip you up

Can you name three of your strengths and weaknesses?

Why do they ask this? The interviewer is looking for red flags and deal breakers, such as inability to work well with colleagues and/or an inability to work under pressure.

Each job has its own unique requirements, so your answers should really show your applicable strengths, whilst each of your weaknesses should have a silver lining that indicates that negative attributes have diminished because of positive actions taken.

How does this question trip you up? You can sabotage yourself revealing either. Exposing your weaknesses can hurt you if not ultimately turned into positives while the strengths you list may not align with the skill set or work style required for the job.

What response you should give? The Interviewer wants to know that your strengths will be a direct asset to the new position and none of your weaknesses would hurt your ability to perform.

Can you tell me about yourself?

Why do they ask this? They ask to determine how you see yourself in relation to the position. The interviewer is listening for a level of confidence in how well you portray yourself through the information that is communicated. Additionally, the interviewer is listening for strong behavioural competencies which help determine a right fit with the job. If this opening answer is weak, it can be a disaster, ending an interview prematurely.

How does this question trip you up? It can tempt you to talk about your personal life, which you shouldn’t. Most interviewees are not versed in seeing this as a trick question, so they may answer by speaking from a personal perspective: ‘I have three kids, I’m married, etc.'”. Believe it or not, even the most seasoned candidate falls for this question especially when prompted by the interviewer to elaborate.

What response should you give? A focused, razor-sharp answer conveying your value to the organization and department. The employer wants to hear about your achievements broken down into two or three succinct bullet points that will set the tone of the interview. Stay sharp and convey your top strengths when answering this question.

Give the interviewer answers that highlight analytical skills, problem-solving ability, sizing up talent or leadership ability to turnaround business performance, among other things.

You need to convey behavioural traits in your response. It sets the tone for the interviewer to ask more targeted questions.

Why do you want to work here?

Why do they ask this? Interviewers ask this because they want to know what drives you the most, how well you’ve researched them, and how much you want the job.

How does this question trip you up? Clearly you want to work for the company for several reasons, you wouldn’t be attending an interview if you didn’t! However, how you list these reasons reveals a lot about what is important to you.

You may be thinking to yourself, “I’m not getting paid what I’m worth,” or, “I have a terrible boss,” or, “All things being equal, this commute is incredibly short” — none of which endears you to the interviewer.

You’re also being tested on your level of interest for the job.

What response are they looking for? The interviewer wants to see that you’ve taken the time to research the company and understand the industry.

They also want to know that you actually want this job (and not just any job); that you have a can-do attitude; that you are high energy; that you can make a significant contribution; that you understand their mission and goals; and that you want to be part of that mission.

Why do you want to leave your current job?

Why do they ask this? Your future boss is looking for patterns or anything negative, especially if your positions are many and short-term. They may try to determine if you currently have or had issues working with others leading to termination, if you get bored quickly in a job, or other red flags.

How does this question trip you up? No one likes talking about a job they dislike and why. If not answered diplomatically, your answer could raise further questions and doubts, or sink your chances entirely.

What response are they looking for? They are hoping that you’re seeking a more challenging position that is a better fit for your current skill set. Remember, your future boss doesn’t mind hearing that you’re particularly excited about the growth opportunity at their company.