In today’s competitive job market, saying the right thing can land you your dream job. Interviews are part and parcel of the recruitment industry and for any one involved in the job-hunting process.

As an international recruitment consultancy, Robert Walters has obtained feedback from candidates on some potentially tough interview questions they have encountered.

As a job seeker, knowing how to handle these tough interview questions can help you to move forward to the next round of interviews.

Let's look at three questions and the recommended answers:

Q1 Why do you want this job?

Be honest with yourself: Are you really interested in what the position entails? Are you impressed by the company’s view on social and corporate responsibility? Or is it just a really impressive increase in salary? Hopefully, it is not just the latter.

Do you know exactly what will be expected of you? Have you seen the job description? Have you researched the company’s website? Do you know people who work there and have recommended the company as an employer?

Be prepared and do some research. Avoid being on the defensive with answers that begin with “because” such as: “Because I think I’d be good at it”, “Because it seems like a good opportunity for me” or “Because it pays well”.

Recommended answer: “Having read the job description and having looked at your company website, the role attracted me as I feel that I have the suitable skills. I am also very interested in what additional responsibility I will gain.”

Adapt your answer to suit the role. Will you have increased responsibility? Will you now be supporting one senior director instead of a team of 50? Will you have more varied work scope?

Q2 Why should I hire you?

This question is all about selling yourself. Why should someone hire you? Are you brilliant at organisation? Are you proficient at Microsoft Office with excellent use of Powerpoint and Excel? Are you creative and do you really think you could add value to the company?

By looking at the job description that was given to you, try to point out your strengths by using examples of work you have done in relation to the requirements for this role.

Recommended answer: “I believe that I meet the requirements listed in your job description and I feel that I would really excel in this role as I particularly enjoy working for… (the industry you are going into/role type/seniority level). In my previous role I was responsible for… (use exact examples of how you contributed to prove your value).”

Again, adapt the answer to suit the role you are applying for. Be enthusiastic, positive and confident.

Q3 What is your biggest weakness?

This is known as a negative question — one that interviewers love asking to test your ability to stay cool. Everyone has weaknesses but that doesn’t mean that yours should get in the way of your dream job. Think about how you can spin your
weaknesses into something positive.

Look at the job description and choose one required responsibility you feel you could improve on. Are you shy to make public presentations? Does your time management need a little work? Do you feel you would benefit from Microsoft Office training?

Recommended answer: You could say (depending on your weakness): “I am aware that my systems skills, Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint are not up to advanced level but this is something that I’m working on by teaching myself in my spare time.”

Or, you say: “I think my time management is something that I could work on. I’ve been doing some research and planning and am getting better at prioritising and writing to-do lists to help me.”

Avoid being a perfectionist or saying “I have no weaknesses I know of”. This only makes you look arrogant and over-confident.

Next: Three more tough questions interviewers ask