How To Answer 5 Infamous Interview Questions With Style

You’ve put together your CV, made the application, probably passed a phone interview and now it’s time to make face-to-face contact with your potential employer.

Love them or hate them, interviews are an important part of the hiring process.

The employer clearly considers you a potential fit based on your experience and education, now they would like to get to know more about you as a person to see how well you fit in within the company.

They’ll field a range of questions to you ranging from the mildly uncomfortable to the completely mind-boggling, so it’s important to do some serious job interview preparation.

We’ve all heard legends about complicated questions, so to put you ahead of the game, here’s a look at scorching hot answers to five infamous interview questions that will make you look great.

Question 5: “What is your greatest weakness?”

I can sense the readers eye-rolling at this point. We just had to start with what is perhaps the most dreaded and difficult of these example interview questions!

It’s important to have a prepared answer for this one, otherwise it’s fraught with the potential for red flags. The interviewer will ask this question to see how you respond to complicated questions and it’s also an opportunity for them to see how articulate you are.

It’s also very important not to fall into the trap of stating a strength as a weakness.

Interviewers are aware of this and saying that “perfectionism” is your weakness can be a big turn-off and suggests you may be masking some genuinely troubling flaws.

We recommend that you identify a weakness you may have and make sure it’s balanced by a story on how you’re working to rectify that weakness. Here’s an example:

“I find that my desk has the potential to be messy and while it doesn’t disrupt my work, I do believe it could aid my productivity. I’m working on this weakness, though. I’ve read up on how to organize my desk and I make sure to keep on top of it!”

It goes without saying that your greatest weakness shouldn’t be too revealing or dramatic. Don’t feel compelled to lie but don’t put your worst foot forward.

Question 4: “What can you tell me about our company?”

If you’ve done your research this shouldn’t be a problem at all, but depending on the role you’re applying for and the industry the business belongs to, you may want to consider your answer.

This is an important question: 47% of interviewers won’t hire a candidate that has a poor knowledge about a company. It’s time to do some research.

Think, for example, about the way that the business stands in comparison to its competitors and foreground your answer with positive aspects about the business. Let’s say you’re looking for graduate banking jobs and you land an interview at HSBC. You should read over their latest annual report and scan their social media to look for landmark announcements.

Remember a few of these important news pieces and it will really spice up your interview answers.

Also, pay particular attention to a company’s “boilerplate” text. This is the “about us” text that can be found in the “about” section of a company and at the bottom of press releases. Your interviewers will have seen this text thousands of times and if you can use the language they’re already used to, you’ll sound just like a part of the team already.

This is a good place for us to mention that the Pathfinder platform can help you a lot here. The market section gives you comprehensive profiles on companies as well as links to social media feeds and news about the company. What’s more, you can supplement that knowledge with industry articles and updates from industry leaders.

It’s your one stop shop for your research needs.

Question 3: Brain Teasers

While this isn’t a specific question, some big companies regularly use brain teasers in order to test candidates on their lateral thinking skills and their responsiveness to challenges in stressful situations.

Some of these questions are recycled so it’s possible to study the key culprits to get the right answer. But more than anything else, the interviewer will want you to be able to demonstrate the logic that you applied. If you can paint a clear picture of your thought process and justify each decision, you’ll be onto a winner.

Some of the questions are abstract and fun, like “how many basketballs are there in China?”.

In terms of recommendations on how to prepare, there are a range of great books and resources out there. Using some of these resources you’ll have no problem counting how many ping-pong balls can fit in a Boeing 747, or how many golf balls there are in Florida.

Question 2: “How do you handle stress?”

Your answer to this one needs to be considered and authentic. Be sure to tell the truth but think about how you can tell it in a constructive way. Let’s consider two examples where the responder struggles with stressful situations:


“I struggle with stress to be honest. I try my best to manage everything as much as possible and when I feel that my workload is too much, I try my best not to stop until everything is done.”

This throws up a lot of potential red flags. This imaginary employee may sound as though they’re prone to burnout. Here’s a way to provide the same answer but in a more constructive way:


“I understand that most jobs can be stressful and people deal with that stress in different ways. I can’t say I’m immune to stress but when I do feel it, I need to take a few moments to pause and reassess the situation. This helps me to regroup and see the problems from a new perspective and show me the way forward.”

Make sure to be honest: it’s an important question and honestly will help you to find the perfect fit. With that said, be sure to think about the way that you articulate your responses and make sure to put positivity into your answers.

Also, consider your body language throughout the interview but ensure you’re in control when answering questions about stress. Interviewers state that 33% of candidates fidget too much and this can be a red flag at the wrong moments.

Question 1: “What motivates you?”

Interviews can trigger a lot of soul searching and while some people find interviews stressful, some people enjoy the opportunity to speak about themselves with candour to a stranger.

This question can be difficult to answer, though, because it’s so intensely intimate. Naturally you’ll want to speak about your professional life but you should dig a little deeper and be unafraid to use this question as an opportunity to demonstrate personal conviction: 45% of interviewers say the quality of a candidate’s confidence has an impact on their decision.

Give them an idea of what it is that makes you get out of bed in the morning and keep going forward. Use this question as an opportunity to give the interviewer a glimpse into the depth of your character; they’ll appreciate the authenticity and you’ll look like a more complete person for it.

Become the Best Candidate You Can Be

We hope that these tips will help you to consider your strategy for particularly tough interview questions.

Above all else, remember that these interviews are an opportunity for you to demonstrate your confidence and tact. If you want to boost your chances of being seen as the top candidate that you are, then be sure to check out our platform which can put you on the fast-track to success.

Founded by Oxbridge graduates, it is the first-ever all-in-one platform for career development that makes the career planning process efficient and personalised.

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