The Hardest Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them)

5 minute read

Job interviews can be a challenge. The way you answer the questions matters as much as your experience—and that can make them much trickier. Some of the hardest interview questions seem to have nothing to do with your skills. They aren’t difficult 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 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 can explain that you’ve always wanted to help people, but if you really want to stand out, then you have to be very specific about it. Tell your interviewer what your contribution to their charity 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 move into the sector or to a specific type of charity. Whatever your reason, make it explicitly clear that the charity sector is the place for you.

The Hardest Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them)

2.    Tell us about yourself…

This is the one question that most job seekers would love to avoid! Talking about yourself in detail doesnt always come naturally and simply explaining your education, hobbies and work experience isnt quite enough. You have to tell the interviewer what you can really bring to the table.  
This is your chance to explain howyour skills can help you succeed in the charity sector, highlight any volunteer experience you have and confirm that youre the right person for the role by highlighting 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, like the challenges you’re ready to take on and the strength of your transferable skills.

If you’ve never worked in the charity sector before, then you should explain why you’re looking to make a career shift now. Whether it’s due to opportunity, recent world events, or something that’s happened in your life. This answer could potentially set you apart from other candidates so be prepared to give your interviewer a 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 youre able to be honest about your flaws as well as approach them positively. 
However, its important not to overdo it here. Avoid clichés and jokesinstead, honestly tell them about your weaknesses and how youre putting 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?’. You want to show your potential employers that you’re motivated and career-oriented, so it’s good to be as specific as you can. Talk about certain actions you plan to take or strategies you could implement.

If you don’t have any ideas yet, do some research. Try 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. 

The Hardest Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them)

6.    Why should we hire you? 

Consider this as your elevator pitch and take the opportunity to highlight the skills you have that would be most beneficial for this particular role. Talk about your perception of the charity sector and how you’d like to have an impact—so they know you’re committed to making a difference.

Your main goal here is to distinguish yourself from other candidates, so don’t be afraid of making this answer more personal. If you’ve never worked in the sector before, this is your chance to sell yourself. For example, maybe you have the transferable skills that the charity sector needs to harness.

7.    When were you most satisfied with your job? 

Take your time to answer this question. Think carefully about a few tasks that really motivated you and explain the impact that they had. This question allows you an opportunity to give the interview panel an insight into your interests and demonstrate your enthusiasm.

For example, maybe successfully completing a project brings you the most satisfaction. This shows that you’re a strong and reliable individual, capable of handling tasks on your own. Or maybe working as a part of the team makes you happy. This shows that you’re a good team member and can communicate well. 

8.    What motivates you? 

Your motivation is the reason you’re fuelled with enthusiasm for what you do. It’s about more than the tasks that you’re happy to complete on a daily basis—tell the interviewer about the biggest picture.

Tell them how your contribution 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.

9.   What did you dislike about your last job? 

Make sure your answer to this isn’t too negative—it isn’t a good idea to bad mouth your last organisation or any of the people there.

Try to find something that your last workplace didn’t offer but the job you’re applying for would. Perhaps you currently have no opportunity for progression, which this role would provide. Or maybe you didn’t feel like your last role was meaningful or making a difference in the world, but working for a charity would.

waiting for interview job change

10.    What are you most proud of in your working life? Or, what’s your most significant achievement? 

Although positive in nature, it’s easy for this one to stump you as it can feel like a trick question, but the interviewer wants to find out more about your values and what’s important to you. The ideal answer would include something that can relate to the role you’re applying for, or at least that uses your transferable skills, and shows that you can overcome obstacles to achieve an excellent result.

11.    Can you work under pressure? How do you respond to stressful situations?

Charities are often trying to do more with less resource, which can result in some pressured situations. Everyone gets stressed out at work sometimes, but you need to show that you can cope and remain calm. The best approach will be to give some examples of times you’ve worked under pressure and the actions you took to stay in control. 

12.    How do you deal with conflict? 

Experiencing a level of conflict with co-workers is a normal part of the work environment, so don’t be fooled into thinking you should say it’s never happened to you. But you should demonstrate that you can resolve conflict using your strong communication, listening and empathy skills and you can build strong working relationships. 

Ready to answer the hardest interview questions? 

While these all seem like the hardest interview questions at first, they seem easier when you understand that they’re just trying to discover the pieces of your personality that your CV and cover letter don’t fully express. The key is to remain calm, be honest but positive and take every opportunity offered to showcase your skills. 

Ready to tackle the interview? Browse for new opportunities in the charity sector.

This post was originally published by the author in 2020 but has been fully updated by CharityJob to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience. 

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Kevin Nelson

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.

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