How to give the right answers to 3 of the most nerve-inducing interview questions

Posted on: February 28th, 2019

So, your recruitment agency has been working hard on your behalf and you’ve been invited to interview at that company you loved the sound of and think will be a perfect match. But wait! You’ve had interviews before, you know which questions you can excel at and exactly which ones you can’t – you’re nervous. Here’s what to say to those ambiguous interview questions that you’re just never sure you nailed.


  1. “Tell us about yourself…”


Your palms start sweating – what do they want to know? Should you go back to your early childhood and work through? What’s relevant and what isn’t to this interview? Should you tell them about winning that year 8 poetry contest? First of all – don’t panic. Nowadays more and more companies are seeing the benefit of employing new hires who are simpatico with the culture fit of the office so this is a real opportunity to show how well you would work with the company’s dynamics.


Use this time to describe to the company a little of your background, how you became interested in your field and your personal goals and experiences that fit with the company ethos. For example, if you’re applying for a copywriting role then maybe that poetry competition win can become the origin story that set you on the path to this very interview.


  1. “What are your strengths?”


So many people fall into the same inherently British trap here – they’re too modest and don’t shout about themselves and regret it later. It’s easy to prepare yourself before an interview and think yes! I can say this, I can tell them about this achievement and that achievement and really tell them what makes me the strong person that I am, but when you’re sat across a table from one or maybe two people staring intently at you the words can dry up in your mouth.


The best thing you can do here is make sure you study the job description and core responsibilities of the role you are applying for and know them inside and out. Next, use your interview prep to prepare answers about your strengths based on the responsibilities laid out in the job description and don’t be modest! This is your opportunity to show exactly how well you are suited to the role you are applying for. This question is sink or swim and with some careful preparation you can definitely give your future employers everything they are looking for in this answer. If this is the kind of question you struggle with make sure to give your recruiter a call and chat it through with them – with over 30 years’ experience Lucy Bristow Appointments can definitely help you overcome your reservations.


  1. “What are your weaknesses?”


The most common question to throw candidates for a loop, it’s hard to know exactly how honest your answer should be here. Answer too honestly and you may find yourself putting interviewers off by being completely negative but give an answer that is obviously a strength disguised as a weakness and you may find yourself coming across a wee bit obnoxious. So how do you turn a weakness into a strength without being too obvious? It’s a conundrum many candidates struggle with.


Firstly, avoid the classic “I’m a perfectionist”, it’s not a real weakness and it’s an old and boring enough answer that your interviewer will be internally rolling their eyes. Do your interview prep thoroughly and think of a time that you’ve managed to turn a real weakness of yours into a positive. Maybe in your old job you found that you struggled with excel so you took an online course and now you know it like the back of your hand or you used to struggle in the mornings but now you get up early to go running and you’ve found that it really changes your mentality for the day ahead. However you want to discuss your weaknesses just make sure you use a real issue and give them the positive that turned it all around for you.


Lucy Bristow Appointments really pride ourselves on helping our candidates through every stage of the recruitment process so if you are looking for a new role get in touch on 0117 925 5988 and let us help you put these tips into action.


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