The Top Nine Tricky Interview Questions

Here’s an overview of all our guidance on how to tackle specific tricky interview questions that you might come up against in your graduate job interviews.

Forewarned is forearmed, which is why we’ve compiled a list of the key tricky interview questions that recruiters love to use and candidates sometimes stumble over. Here it is in full, so read on to find out what employers are really asking and pick up tactics for giving answers that show you in the best possible light.

‘What is your biggest weakness?’

The problem with this question is that you’re being asked about your shortcomings, when your instinct, in an interview situation, is to keep your flaws as well hidden as possible. What you need to do is to frame your answer to as to give it a positive spin.

Strengths and weaknesses can be different sides of the same coin, so another way to approach this question is to think about how you overcome the potential downside of your greatest strength. For example, if you’re a natural teamworker, is it difficult for you to cope with conflict or assume leadership abilities? How do you cope with this?

‘Why do you think you will be successful in this job?’

This isn’t an invitation to boast – you are being asked to match your strengths to the qualities needed to do the job. Don’t forget, it’s a very specific question. Why are you suited to this job, as opposed to any other? Thorough employer research will save the day, as it will enable you to match your skills, interests and experience to the job role and the company.

‘Have you ever had a bad experience with an employer?’

Graduate recruiters use some questions as much to see how you cope when you’re put on the spot as to elicit a truthful answer. This question is a test of your ability to think on your feet and come up with a diplomatic response. Whether you sidestep the question by saying you’ve always got on well with your employers, or describe a tricky situation you’ve experienced that highlights your potential, you need to avoid attacking your previous employers. Also, take care not to incriminate yourself.

‘Give an example of a time when you handled a major crisis.’

Feel free to reframe the question. This is similar to asking ‘Can you give an example of a time when you had to cope with a difficult situation?’ or ‘Give an example of a time when you had to cope under pressure’. However, ‘crisis’ is a much stronger, more emotive word. You may find it easier to give an example if you think back through your work experience, study, extracurricular activities and travel and come up with a time when you had to cope with an unexpected problem.

‘Where do you expect to be in five years’ time?’

This is another question that allows you to show off your employer research and your understanding of your chosen career path. You’ll want to come across as enthusiastic, but not arrogant. Tailor your response to reflect the nature of the organisation, the sector, and your own experiences and skills. Specific details will impress.

What motivates you?

You are particularly likely to be asked about your motivation in a strengths-based interview, which focuses on what you enjoy doing and what you do well. Your answer should draw on an example from your extracurricular activities, work experience or studies that suggests you would be strongly motivated by the job you are applying for.

How do you manage your time and prioritise tasks?

When a recruiter asks how you manage your time, don’t just give an example of a time when you did this successfully. Your interviewer wants to know your tactics and strategies for getting yourself organised, so whatever approach you use to prioritising and listing your tasks, you should be ready to describe it.

Give an example of a time when you showed initiative.

If an interviewer asks you to describe a situation in which you showed initiative, avoid giving an example of an idea you had but never put into action. It’s much better to talk about a time when you not only came up with a solution to a problem but also acted on it. Then you can explain the effect your decision had when you put it into practice.

Give an example of your lateral thinking.

Lateral thinking is the ability to use your imagination to look at a problem in a fresh way and come up with a new solution. Companies prize employees with lateral thinking skills because without them, they can’t innovate and create new products. Think about times when you’ve been faced with real-life problems and have somehow managed to overcome them. Chances are your solution involved an original, creative approach, and that’s what employers want to find out about.


Restaurants drive growth in Oriental food consumption

The explosion in the number of Pan-Asian restaurants is driving the growth of Oriental food in the UK, according to a report published today to coincide with the start of Chinese New Year.

Commissioned by Oriental grocer Wing Yip, the Oriental Food Report is a comprehensive study of the growing influence of Chinese food and other South East Asian cuisines in the UK.

The report highlights that 94% of people have eaten Chinese food at home as a takeaway or in a restaurant, but very few ever dine out on Oriental cuisine in a pub.

The independent research was conducted through an online survey of over 3000 consumers and also includes commentary from some of the leading players in the Oriental food and restaurant sector, as well as input from Horizons and CGA Peach.

Restaurants, and particularly new openings in and around London, are driving consumption with 70-80% of those who eat Oriental cuisines, other than Chinese – where the takeaway sector remains a big player – doing so at a restaurant. With relatively few people cooking Oriental food at home, restaurants are critical to the success of the market and there are now more than 4000 Chinese, Thai and Japanese restaurants in the UK – an 18% growth in the last five years.

The latest data from Horizons backs up the research, highlighting that the number of Pan- Asian dishes listed by branded restaurants has also grown by 9% over the last three years.

Chinese dominates Oriental consumption Chinese food continues to dominate the favourite meal list with 87% of those who have tried any Oriental cuisines eating it nowadays. The most popular Oriental dish is Sweet and Sour Chicken with Thai Green Curry at number two and Sushi coming in at number four.

The report also highlights that consumer tastes are becoming ever-more adventurous with 39% choosing to eat Thai food and 20% Japanese – now the UK’s third most popular Oriental cuisine.

Supporting this trend, Horizons says sushi is now the most commonly listed Pan-Asian dish on branded menus, representing one in four of all pan-Asian menu listings – up from 14% two years ago.

Travellers’ choice With more people holidaying in South East Asia, the report also highlights that these consumers are motivated by the food and those who have visited the region are more likely to eat it back in the UK.

Brian Yip, managing director of Wing Yip UK Trading, said:  “This report highlights that consumers are becoming far more adventurous in their tastes and with the number of pan-Asian restaurants growing, including some exciting new concepts, the future looks bright for the sector.

Wing Yip’s Oriental Food Report looks at some of the trends and behaviours driving the changes in the marketplace and includes:

  • Britain’s most popular Oriental dishes
  • How often people eat out at Chinese restaurants
  • The growth of pan-Asian dishes on mainstream branded restaurant menus
  • The rising influence of Japanese food
  • The reasons why Oriental cuisines are so popular
  • The importance of London
  • How travel influences growing Oriental food consumption
  • The barriers to cooking Oriental food at home




Latest Words To Avoid On Your CV

It’s a new year, but the dictionary hasn’t been updated much.

Sure, there are a few emojis to clutch onto, but at heart you’re at the mercy of the English language yet again.

This can prove especially difficult when you have a résumé to write.

Each time someone writes their résumé, they think they’re being original. Or, perhaps, they’re merely writing what they think HR directors (or their software) want to hear.

So here are the latest words to avoid.

1. Motivated

Yes, because anyone who doesn’t write this word is merely looking for a job to fund their pot habit. Of course you’re motivated. You’ve just sent out your résumé.

2. Creative

Indeed you are. Because every creative person on earth has “creative” on their business card. That only happens in advertising. Which isn’t very creative.

3. Enthusiastic

I would rather leap at a résumé that actually had “bit of a miserable sod” as a self-description. It would at least show self-awareness. Of course you’re enthusiastic. For the first month of your new job, at least.

4. Track Record

Otherwise known as Broken Record. These are the people who boast that they’ve been there and done that. Well, if you’ve already been there, why do you want to come here? To do the same boring job all over again?

5. Passionate

Your job and you are like frisky lovers. You can never get enough of each other. You think about each other all the time. There’s never a dull day. Till the divorce, that is.

6. Successful

Wouldn’t it be lovely to read a résumé that began: “Under-appreciated, frustrated executive looking for a home.” Instead people write: “I’m great.” Oh.

7. Driven

This one drives me crazy. The only way to succeed is apparently to be obsessed and to express your obsession at every turn. Because business is a race. Or something.

8. Leadership

You’d hate anyone to think you’re a follower, wouldn’t you? So you must be a leader then. Even if the only leadership jobs you’ve had so far are leading one student march and a few fellow workers to a new lunch spot.

9. Strategic

You’re not a functionary. You’re strategic. You strategize day and night. About what, exactly? Is this some fancy word for saying you have a brain that works?

10. Extensive experience

I learned this very young: Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. Why don’t you just write: “Been around. Still not happy.”

I think we have a résumé crisis.

We need to be passionate, creative, and think strategically about this. We should use our track record and our extensive experience to give guidance

Sugar tax not ‘off the table’

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that the Prime Minister has not taken a sugar tax off the table, ahead of this month’s child obesity strategy.

Hunt said: “David Cameron has said that if it isn’t a sugar tax then it needs to be something equally robust, but he has not taken a sugar tax off the table.

“Partly it’s what food manufacturers do and that’s why you have discussion about taxes on drinks. It’s also what the retailers do, it’s what schools do, it’s what parents do.”

A sugar tax was first proposed in a joint campaign led by Jamie Oliver and Sustain, which was then backed by Public Health England in its October report as a means to reducing sugar intake.

More recently, City Hall announced it was introducing a ten pence charge on all added-sugar soft drinks sold in its café. NHS England announced earlier this month in the Guardian that a sugar tax would be introduced across its hospital cafes in a bid to tackle obesity in England.