The Hardest Job Interview Questions (And How to Answer Them)
Job interviews are a challenge for many of us. And that’s because it takes more than our natural-born skills to get us through the process successfully. Maybe you start by polishing your CV and tweaking your cover letter, which pays off and you get an interview (which is an amazing achievement). Now you need to be able to present yourself in person—the way you answer the questions matters as much as your experience—and that’s where the tricky part begins.
Some job interview questions seem to have nothing to do with our skills and are actually very hard to answer. Not because they are complicated, but because you have to unveil more about your character.
Luckily, you don’t have to go through this alone. Here are some tips on how to answer the hardest job interview questions if you want to get a job in the charity sector.
1. Why do you want to work in the charity sector?
You might begin by explaining that you’ve wanted to help people all your life, but if you really want to stand out, then you have to be very specific about it. Tell your interviewer what your contribution to the industry would be, what ideas and strategies you have, and why you’re passionate about this particular cause.
For example, maybe you have a personal story that inspired you to find a job in a charity sector. Or maybe you want to work with a specific type of charity for personal reasons. Whatever your reason, make it explicitly clear that the charity sector is the place for you.
2. Tell us about yourself…
This is often the one question that job seekers would love to avoid! Talking about ourselves in detail doesn’t always come naturally and simply talking about your education, hobbies and work experience isn’t quite enough. You have to tell the interviewer what you can really bring to the table. This is the chance to explain how your skills can help you succeed in the charity sector, highlight any experience that you’ve had as a volunteer and confirm that you’re the right person for the role by explaining more about your past successes.
3. Why do you want to change jobs?
This question is crucial, no matter what your last job was. Focus on the positives. You should talk about the challenges you are ready to take on, the changes you are willing to make in your life and the strength of your transferable skills.
If you’ve never worked in the charity sector before, then you should do your best to explain why you are looking to make a career shift now. Maybe you’ve been planning to do so for a while, but haven’t had an opportunity before (for example, you needed to save some money to make the whole job switching process more comfortable). Or maybe this was your recent (though well-thought through) decision inspired by some events that happened in your life. This answer could potentially set you apart from other candidates so be prepared to give your interviewer and reason that they’ll remember.
4. What are your weaknesses?
We all have our weaknesses. So when an interviewer asks this question, they want to know whether you are able to be honest about your flaws as well as approach them positively. However, it’s important not to overdo it here. Avoid clichés and jokes—instead, honestly tell them about your weakness and how you’re trying to put things in place to turn them into strengths.
5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
This can also be translated to ‘how do you see yourself contributing to this organisation?’. It’s good to be as specific as you can, discussing the projects that you have in mind, strategies you could potentially implement and so on. You want to show your potential employers that you are motivated and career-oriented—and the best way to do so is to talk about certain actions you plan to take.
If you don’t have any ideas yet, do some research. You’re likely to find something that can give you a sense of the direction the organisation wants to go in, or how the role you’ve applied for can truly have a positive impact when the people involved are proactive. Or maybe you’ll stumble upon some things about a charity sector that you might want to change.
6. Why should we hire you?
This question is the best opportunity for you to highlight your unique skills. Consider this as your elevator pitch and think about which of your skills would be beneficial for this particular role in the charity sector. Talk about your own perception of the charity sector and how you would like to have an impact—that way they’ll know you’re committed to making a true difference.
Don’t be afraid of making this answer more personal: after all, your main goal here is to distinguish yourself from other candidates, not just give a reply that’s expected. Moreover, if you’ve never worked in this sector before, this could be your chance to persuade the interviewer to hire you. For example, maybe one of your previous jobs had allowed you to build the skills that the charity sector needs to harness.
7. When were you most satisfied with your job?
Take your time to answer this question. Remember, there are plenty of things that drew you to your current or previous job (and that could be relevant to your new job as well). Think carefully about two or three tasks that really motivated you, describe them and explain the impact that they had on your team. This question allows you to give them an insight into your interests and demonstrate your enthusiasm, so take the opportunity to do so.
For example, maybe successfully completing a project brings you the most satisfaction: this will show the interviewer that you’re a strong and reliable individual worker capable of handling various tasks on your own. Or maybe, it’s you working as a part of the team that makes you happy: this will show that you are a good team member and can communicate with people well.
8. What motivates you?
Your motivation is what gets you up in the morning every day—it’s the reason you’re fueled with enthusiasm for what you do. Let the interviewer know much more than the tasks that you’re happy to complete on a daily basis—tell them about the biggest picture. This is about your contribution and how it can genuinely help to make a difference in the lives of others. It’s OK to be bold! Don’t dampen your flame by being reserved about your passion; share it with them.
Ready to tackle the interview?
While all of these job interview questions seem difficult at first, they only look like that until you understand that they’re just trying to discover the pieces of your personality that your CV & cover letter don’t fully express. So take that into consideration and remember, now that you’re foot is in the door, you just have to confirm that they’ve made the right decision by inviting you in for an interview. Think we’ve missed anything? Share your interview tips in the comments section below.
Kevin Nelson started his career as a research analyst and has changed his sphere of activity to writing services and content marketing. Currently, Kevin works as a part-time writer. Apart from writing, he spends a lot of time reading psychology and management literature searching for the keystones of motivation ideas. Feel free to connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin.