Job interviews are largely predictable affairs. Yet, while it’s possible to guess many of the stock interview questions, some remain almost impossible to prepare a fool-proof answer for. Often open-ended and creative, these “booby traps” could fell even the most unflappable of candidates.

Want to know how to avoid the most common of those dreaded quick questions? Read on to find out.

 

1. What would you say your biggest weakness is?

Don’t say something clichéd like ‘I work too hard’. The best option is to think of something that isn’t relevant to the job. So if something’s organisational, don’t say ‘I struggle to organise’.

 

2. How much money do you currently make?

This is your chance to potentially dictate your new salary. You want to give a bit of leeway, so tell them your salary is based on a number of things. If you have to give figures, go a little higher and keep it vague.

 

3. Where would you ideally like to work?

You need to generate a bit of humour for this. You wouldn’t have applied if you didn’t think the role was ideal, so you could see yourself succeeding in that company for the future.

 

4. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Tell them you want to make a success of this role and see where it might head. Don’t give anything definite and say your focus is on the next two years. And, whatever you do, don’t say you want to be in their seat.

 

5. If you were an animal what animal would you be?

This is very common. The trick is just justifying it with some applicable attributes.

 

6. I notice there are gaps in your CV, why’s that?

If you’re young, this question is definitely accusatory – they want to know you’ve done something. Expand your temporary assignments to fill gaps.

 

7. You seem overqualified, and might get bored here. What do you think about that?

There are three components to answering this:

a) Stating how your experience brings value to the position.

b) Recognising the aspects of the role that you’ll need to learn.

c) Showing your enthusiasm for the role.

 

8. Describe yourself in three words

Too confident and annoying (i.e. saying ‘Your. Next. Hire’) and you’ll irritate. But too boring (‘Ambitious. Resourceful. Team-player’) and you’ll seem unimaginative.

The secret is to use a combination of adjectives that the firm would want, as well as those that are unique selling points specific to you.