How to Answer Tricky Interview Questions

By David Grover

Many people dread interviews and the probing questions that they involve. But with the right frame of mind, you can keep your end goal in view and tackle an interview by putting your best foot forward. ‘But which one is that?’ you ask! Well, it’s the one that shows how you fit perfectly into the interviewing company’s team.

It can be especially hard to know how to tackle interviews when you are transitioning back into civilian life from the military. So here we’re going to show you how to approach some of the questions which might throw you under the pressure of an interview.

  1. What experience, other than your military career, can you bring to this role?

When you get asked this question it may seem like the interviewer is overlooking your experience in the military. Recruiters need to find the most suitable candidate for the position and so seeing a resume with little civilian experience can hint to them that you are not adequately experienced.

This is where you need to do the work for them. Join up the dots to let them see how your experience is very relevant to the job you have applied for. Some recruiters do not have a full understanding of the wealth of roles available within the military, so they may not comprehend what it is that you have done in the past. Take some time to flesh this out on your resume, and be prepared to talk them through it in the interview.

If the interviewer still insists upon knowing other experience you have then be able to talk about what you have done in your spare time, or at school. Have you volunteered with a charity or community group? If so, what position did you hold? What value did you bring to the operation? Have you ever captained a sports team, or coached one? Personal hobbies where you show an entrepreneurial spirit are also relevant, for example, do you woodwork and sell your pieces? These details, although they might not occur to you straight away may help to show your ability to manage, handle finances and perform administrative tasks.

  1. Tell me about yourself.

When an interviewer asks this question, some candidates feel as though it is their opportunity to relax and show what a fun co-worker they would make. This is not really the case. The reason that this question is asked time and again is to get a clear picture of the candidate, to see what drives them and makes them tick. They want to know if this person will fit the role and the company culture. They don’t want to hear your life story, rather, they want to hear a version of that story that relates to them. Bring every point you make back around to why you are an ideal candidate for the position.

  1. What does success mean to you?

Again, the answer to this question must relate to the job you are applying for. Or at least to your career goals, which you are happy to share with them (they should involve progression within the company). Many of us equate true success to family, personal & spiritual fulfillment and making a difference in the world. Though this may be true for you, the company interviewing you wants to hear about business or career success.

You may want to mention past successes such as an accolade you received during your time in service, but again, make sure to join the dots for the recruiter; show them how it relates to where you are now and where you plan to go in the future.

  1. We sometimes encounter difficult or irate customers in our line of work, how would you deal with such a situation?

If you have no experience of working in a customer service environment this may seem like a tricky question to tackle. The best thing to do is prepare in advance. Think about times when you have received good customer service and times when it has been below par. How were you treated? Did you feel that your complaint was dealt with adequately? If not, what do you think could have been done better? By putting yourself in the customer’s shoes you are well on your way to approaching a customer service role in the right frame of mind.

Also, use your experience to help you here. Although you may not have dealt with difficult customers there were most likely difficult people who you had to engage with. How did you do this in such a way as to minimize conflict?

  1. How can you help us to improve our bottom line in this role?

If you are coming from a situation where you never had to consider profit and loss accounts then the transition to working for a company whose main concern are profits can be hard. Every company is in the business of making money so think about how your role will help contribute to this. Every person in every company contributes in some way to this end and knowing how your role feeds into that will be a definite advantage. Think in terms of ways to retain customers, to increase sales and to drive down costs.

Where did you do this in the past? Consider times when you may have had to manage stores or order supplies. How did you ensure that you got the most value out of your limited supplies?

Spend some time thinking about how you personally could handle these questions. Remember that every interview question should be tailored to your specific circumstances and the specific job in the specific company that you are applying to. Sure, it sounds like a lot of hard work but you’ll be glad you put in the preparation when you secure yourself that job!

About the Author
David Grover is a Communications Manager at Timeo, a useful tool for businesses in the UK. He’s also a freelance career coach, who’s always eager to share his experience. In his free time he enjoys traveling.

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