How to answer difficult interview questions

Job interviews are nerve-wracking experiences for most of us. Between trying to sell yourself to a potential new employer, remembering all the research you did and striking the right balance between being friendly and professional, there’s a lot to think about. Then to top it off, the interviewer goes and asks a question like ‘what’s the thing people most often criticise you about?’ Employers ask difficult questions for a number of reasons. They want to see how you react to difficult situations, they’re probably trying to work out your strengths and which skills you need to brush up on and crucially, they’re checking to see if you’d be the right cultural fit for the company. The most important question of them all however, is how do you think on your feet, so that you’re not thrown by these tough questions? Preparation is key Unless you’re naturally good at winging it, the best thing you can do is prepare for your interview as much as possible. As well as doing your research on the organisation, write out the types of questions you think might come up and practise going over them again and again. It’s a great idea to role play with someone else because they can offer feedback on your answers and give you tips you may not have thought of. The different types of difficult questions Below are some examples of difficult questions and how you can answer them without getting flustered. Personality questions: What annoys you? How do you handle stress? What motivates you? If you could re-live the last 10 years of your life, what would you do? With these questions, the interviewer is trying to find out more about your personality. Your response will help them to determine whether you’re a good match for the company and whether you’ll fit in well with your team. Weakness questions: What’s your greatest weakness? What have you learned from your mistakes? What has been the greatest disappointment in your life? What problems did you encounter in your previous role? Interviewers love to ask these questions but they’re difficult to answer because the last thing you want to do is say something that could put them off. Despite this, don’t be tempted to say, ‘I don’t have any weaknesses’ or something like ‘I’m a perfectionist.’ Employers don’t expect you to be perfect. They’re looking for someone who can recognise a weakness within themselves and work hard to turn it around. Be honest, positive and focus on solutions. Choose a weakness that wouldn’t be a deal-breaker and then describe how you overcame it. This will allow you to turn the situation around and you could go into how much you’ve developed as a person since you’ve overcome your weakness. Previous experience questions: What did you like/dislike about your previous job? What was it like working with your last manager? Who has been your best and worst boss? How has your education prepared you for your career? How do you deal with conflict in the workplace? How would your colleagues describe you? Why do you want to leave your job? It’s natural that a potential employer is going to want to get a feel for how you handle workplace situations, so make sure you’re prepared for these questions. No matter how qualified someone is for a job, if they’re not the right cultural fit, it’s unlikely they’ll stay long. Always try to stay positive, but also be honest, without trashing your previous employer or boss. For example, when asked why you’re leaving your current job, explain that you’ve loved your time there, but there’s no opportunity for promotion and you’re looking to progress your career. Quirky interview questions: How many basketballs would fit in this room? What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer? Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses? Believe it or not, all of these questions have been asked in genuine interview situations. Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer - employers are simply trying to find out more about you, how you react to situations, how you solve problems, if you can respond to changing environments and how fast you can think on your feet. A great tip is to get someone to ask you a list of strange questions so you can practice thinking outside the box and responding to something you’re not expecting. If you need help finding your next role or preparing for an interview, get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to help.


How to Deal with Redundancy

Losing your job through redundancy can be one of the hardest and most upsetting things to face. As well as worrying about how you will cope financially, it can knock your confidence, leave you feeling ashamed or confused and cause a great deal of stress. Redundancy is overwhelming for the majority of us, but there are ways of dealing with it that will help you to get back on track as quickly as possible. Here are some of our top tips on how to deal with an unexpected redundancy. Don’t panic A natural response to being made redundant is to panic. When you have bills to pay or a family to support, it’s an understandable reaction. However, panicking won’t help you find your next job any quicker – in fact, it’s likely to slow the process down because you won’t be thinking logically. Firstly, look at your financial situation as a top priority. If you’ve been with your employer for at least two years, you’re entitled to redundancy pay, which should help in the short term. To find out how much statutory redundancy pay you’re entitled to, head here on the site. Secondly, look at your outgoings so that you know how long any redundancy pay will keep you afloat for. If you run out of money before finding a new job, you might be entitled to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support. Don’t take it personally It’s hard not to take it personally when you’re made redundant. The natural reaction is to think you did something wrong or aren’t good enough for some reason. Remember: there are many reasons why thousands of people lose their jobs through redundancy all across the UK every year and it’s usually down to the employer, not the employee. Your employer may be facing financial difficulties, your role may no longer exist, or the company may be merging or relocating. Talk to your manager about exactly why you were made redundant so you can fully understand the situation rather than speculating. Stay positive Admittedly, this is easier said than done when you’ve just lost your job, but by keeping a positive frame of mind, it will make you more attractive to potential employers. If your new job search is getting frustrating, try to do something every day that helps to keep your positivity levels up. Try to take advantage of your new spare time to exercise, which can help you focus and feel better, attend networking events that you don’t normally have to time for or even conduct your job search from your favourite coffee shop. Use the opportunity to do something different There are actually plenty of positives that can come out of being made redundant. Many of us end up stuck in a rut when it comes to our jobs but are too scared to leave because we need financial security. When the decision is taken out of our hands, it forces us to move on. This could be your opportunity to try something new or change direction in your career. Use this time to think about what you really want. Are you happy in your career? Do you have a passion you would like to pursue? Would this be a good time to further your career by attending a training course or studying towards a qualification which you don’t usually have time to do? Is this a good time to become self-employed? Although it may not feel like it, there are plenty of opportunities available to you right now. Build your experience If it’s taking longer than you hoped to secure your next role, use the time to add to your experience. Volunteer, do some temporary or contract work, help out on a consultancy basis or freelance for a while. As well as improving your skills and gaining experience, you’ll be continuing your networking and opening doors that could lead to full-time, permanent employment. Get support Redundancy can be a difficult time for anyone so make sure you reach out to friends and family for support. More people than you think will have been through a redundancy scenario and can give you good advice. As recruiters, we naturally see a lot of people between roles, many of them following redundancy. As well as helping you to find a new role, we also offer advice for perfecting your CV, as well as interview techniques. We can also discuss with you whether temping would be a realistic stepping stone in your chosen field. If you need any help following a redundancy, please reach out and we’ll be more than happy to assist.


Using Social Media to Secure a New Role

No longer just a place for selfies and cat videos, social media channels have evolved to become very useful recruitment tools. Recent research has shown that 92% of companies now use social media to source candidates, with 93% of those on LinkedIn, 66% using Facebook and 54% Twitter. A decade ago, social media would have been the last place to look for a candidate, but now: 73% of companies have made a successful hire via social media 42% say that the quality of their hires has improved 20% say that social media reduces the time it takes to hire So, if employers are using it to this degree, it’s vital that candidates in turn use social media to their advantage too, to identify job opportunities, network, and establish their own personal brand – but tread carefully, there are downsides to be aware of! The pros You can apply for advertised roles easily. Some companies don’t use job boards now so if you’re not on social media, you could miss out You’re making yourself a visible presence to recruiters who can find and approach you You can build a different kind of network and engage with a wider audience You can create positive PR by adding testimonials, endorsements and presentations of your work onto your social media accounts You can speak to recruiters, headhunters and prospective employers throughout your job search by engaging with them in real time The cons A public social media profile comes with its risks as well: 75% of hiring managers and recruiters will check a candidate’s social media profile (even if they’re not provided). One in every three employers have rejected candidates based on something they found on their social profiles 78% of employers disapprove of references to using illegal drugs 67% react negatively to posts of a sexual nature How to use social media effectively Treat your social media profile as you would your CV or an interview – as a tool to create a positive impression. You can highlight skills, qualities, achievements, as well as allow an insight into your personality. Use a professional looking photo (not a holiday snap or a night out). If possible, wear business dress and have a clear background Use a professional headline, making it clear for recruiters to distinguish who you are and what your brand is Include key words about your role, responsibilities, accountabilities and strengths, so that you appear in searches Highlight recent achievements that are relevant to the type of role you want Share articles from industry sites and groups to expand your network On LinkedIn, ask previous employers and colleagues to provide recommendations and endorsements for your profile page While Facebook and Twitter are less formal than LinkedIn, keep it professional. You don’t have to post anything personal if you prefer, you can just follow companies or topics and like or retweet them. The content you like should be used to show your interest in a particular career. If you need advice on using social media to help find your next job, contact us today.


The Rise of the Gaming Sector

The UK gaming sector has been on a dramatic growth curve for over a decade with the recently released stats from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) showing it has more than doubled since 2007 to now be worth £3.864 billion, and, for the first time in its history, accounting for more than half of the entertainment market, outperforming video and music combined. The UK is now the 5thlargest market in the world for gaming, with some of the world’s biggest game franchises developed here and an increasing number of games companies listing on the stock market. This may seem out of place with the hardware and tech traditionally coming from Asia, but a combination of the UK being at the genesis of the gaming sector, as well as UK universities offering a number of highly regarded related degree courses, means we have always had a very strong talent pool in this area. At the last count, there were more than 2,000 gaming companies, employing 18,500 people, in the country. That 18,500 however is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the specialist talent in the UK, due to the knock-on effect that the gaming sector has had on countless other sectors, via the advent of gamification. Gamification is the deployment of traditional game playing elements, such as rewards or interaction with other players, into non-gaming areas of business or education, to increase engagement or motivation, or to streamline processes or boost sales. Organisations from a wide range of sectors have been quick to capitalise on this, which has created a surge in demand for gaming and tech professionals. Developers apply game mechanics and commonplace user interfaces and UX to keep users engaged with a number of everyday gaming standards: winning rewards, improving skills, progressing through levels, moving up leader boards etc. In the workplace, regardless of sector, gamification has come into its own in on-boarding, training and development, and employee engagement. Interactive systems are now being widely adopted for new starter inductions, as well as employee development, which in turns helps with attraction and retention of staff. There are many other examples, often in the form of apps, which have already become a part of everyday life, for companies that are nothing to do with gaming. For example: Fitbit and its peers have gamified the health and exercise sector with an award system for certain milestones Police training colleges use gamified examples of real-life scenarios that would be too expensive or dangerous to recreate Duolingo has gamified language learning by users completing level or being rewarded for regular check ins Think of the online dating industry, harnessing the “likes” culture of games and social media Businesses such as Plum and Chip have gamified savings and financial management, incentivising users with goals they set themselves It’s even changing retail, with big brands like Nike using augmented reality games to increase loyalty (and sales), with users needing to find and photograph new release products to ensure a chance to buy. These are just the early adopters – banking is changing, retail needs to change further and, as users become more and more familiar with the “game” interface and culture, other sectors will come on board. All this means that 2019 will see an ever-increasing demand for the individuals with backgrounds in gaming who can make it all happen!


Our Blog

Get blogs by topic:
Get blogs by date: