How to approach the ‘hard to answer’ Interview questions

How to approach the ‘hard to answer’ Interview questions

Have you ever been in an interview and got caught off guard because you haven’t prepared for the trickier interview questions? Don’t worry, it happens to all of us. So how do you answer these questions and why are you being asked them anyway? We are going to break down the most common and often hardest to answer interview questions and offer our advice on approaching your responses.

Tell me about yourself

This is often one of the first questions that you are asked at the start of your interview and can set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Although this seems like a simple question, it is easy for candidates to either give far too brief a response or go on to tell their life story. So what does the interviewer really want to know? The aim of this is to find out how you arrived to be sitting here today – and we don’t mean that you got the bus. The interviewer wants to establish how suitable you are for the role and what makes you tick. As such tell your story with the end goal of demonstrating why you would be a great fit for this role.

Can you tell me what your ideal role would look like?

First and foremost, this is not a trick or a test to see if you have read the job description. You have been asked this question to establish whether you will be happy in the role and therefore likely to stay and progress within the company. When describing your ideal role, think about what you would like your core responsibilities to be and how you would apply your skills to succeed and tie this into the role that you are applying for. Highlight what you can offer and what you are looking for then why you would be a good match for this role.

What are you looking for in terms of salary?

Your interviewer knows the industry standard rate for this role and experience level so make sure that you do. Knowing this will help you have more conviction and puts you in a better position should you need to negotiate. If the interview process is at an early stage and you don’t feel comfortable negotiating, you can simply say that you want to understand more about the company or the role before commenting on salary.

Can you tell me about a time you have failed? / What would you say your weaknesses are?

This question typically puts you on the defensive and can often leave you responding with very cliché answers. Again, the interviewer is not trying to catch you out here. They want to know how you react to and face adversity. There is no need to bring up the biggest failure in your life to date - you could discuss a time that you simply missed a deadline or didn’t meet one of your KPIs. When you answer this question, make sure and address where you went wrong, what you learnt from it and what you would do differently next time.  

Do you have any questions for me?

Finally, this is your chance to end the interview on a high note and show your interest in the role. Try not to go into the interview with set questions and instead focus and comment on points that the interviewer has outlined to you. Do not be afraid to ask questions that you might have during the interview, it shows how engaged you are with what the interviewer is telling you.


In short, by asking some tricky questions – the interviewer is not trying to throw you off, they are trying to get to know you more to establish how well you will fit in their organisation. Being honest and informative with your answers will help to gain the trust of your interviewer and hopefully the job too. For more information or help with your job search – contact our Experts on +353 (1) 6520652 or +44 (0) 2895211121.

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