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Succeed in the workplace
Succeed in the workplace

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7.3 Dealing with difficulties

Embarrassed emoji character.
Figure 14 Difficult questions

However well you have prepared for questions, some will still feel difficult on the day. The following tips will help you through them.

In general:

  • When you feel under pressure you might not listen as well as usual. Do not be afraid to ask for the question to be repeated. Take your time to answer and keep to the point.
  • If you are asked embarrassing questions, keep your answer simple and short.

Occasionally you will be asked more unpredictable or ‘off the wall’ questions such as:

  • What were you like as a child?
  • If you were a biscuit what would you choose to be?
  • If you could ban something, what would it be?

Often the interviewer does not really want to know the answer. They simply want to see how you might deal with something unexpected. They might be interested in whether you can think on your feet or get flustered, or if you can present a convincing argument or original idea under pressure. It is fine to pause and say that it is an unexpected or difficult question before you answer.

Sometimes it is not the questions which are difficult, but the interviewers. You may feel you are not achieving rapport with them.

In general, interviewers are trying to help you to do yourself justice.

However, the world is not perfect and neither are people. You may, unfortunately, meet some interviewers with whom you do not have a pleasant experience. If this happens to you, the best strategy is to keep firmly in your mind that your goal is to present yourself as well as possible. Just stick to your plan of being professional, positive and focused on showing your abilities. Then, after the interview, chalk it down to experience. You may just have caught the person on a bad day or they may be indicative of the way the organisations works. Either way, the damage done is to them – unless you let it damage you. After all, if they decided to offer you the job, you would have to think long and hard about whether to take it.

The final section this week considers what you should do after the interview.