Top Inconvenient Interview Questions

Leo Rolf

Posted 14/11/2019
by Leo Rolf

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Top Inconvenient Interview Questions

Through experience, word of mouth and large amounts of online resources, job applicants now roughly know which questions to expect at a job interview: the evergreen “tell us a bit about yourself”, “what do you know about the company”, “where do you see yourself in five years” and others. Most applicants dread tough and unexpected interview questions, but for interviewers, they can be one of the most precious sources of insight. Hard and inconvenient questions show how the candidate reacts under pressure and articulates thoughts and ideas that they haven't prepped for in advance. Here are some of the best inconvenient interview questions that you can ask to get a more comprehensive and accurate portrayal of your candidate.

Why should we hire you?

The most significant of all job interview questions – even though it's mostly not formulated in these exact words – can still pose as a difficult one to answer. By asking this simple question, you will allow the candidate to directly communicate on how they can add value to the company. The applicant's answer to this question will also give you a glimpse on what they think is their biggest strength – and you'll be able to see which values they consider the most important.

Why do you want to leave your current company?

This is one of the most uncomfortable questions that most job interviewees expect. It's never easy to answer it. Obviously, they're leaving because they're not satisfied for one reason or another. Finding out what makes a potential candidate want to leave their job will give you a deeper understanding of their preferences and priorities. “The reasons behind their desire to want to change jobs will also tell you a lot about their ambition, initiative and their idea of personal career growth”, says Carrie Johnson, HR expert from Trust My Paper, a company providing essay writing services.   It's also a great way to observe whether the candidate will fit into your own company's culture and management style.

Can you explain your employment gap during xx-xx?

Long employment gaps are another tough one that many job interviewers are likely to point out during a selection process. At the same time, they can be highly uncomfortable and inconvenient for candidates. It's possible that you'll gain great insight into a candidate's potential red flags by hearing the reasons behind their longer employment gaps. The important thing is to not presuppose anything about a candidate's employment gap and simply ask them to clarify it, even though it might be inconvenient.

What is your expected salary?

This may not be such a tough one for experienced professionals who want to negotiate a high salary, but it's an especially tricky question for fresh graduates with little to no experience. According to career coach Bianca J. Jackson, “the first person who mentions a number loses when it comes to negotiations“. However, asking this thorny question is not all about finding out what a candidate expects compensation-wise: it will also show you how much they prioritise salary over other benefits and how much they value their own work and contribution.

What are some of your weaknesses?

Just like the good,ol' “where do you see yourself in five years“, this question has become somewhat of a job interview cliché. Many HR experts consider that asking cliche interview questions results in getting cliché answers like, my weakness is perfectionism“. So, in order to avoid this worn-out phrase, you can use some of the alternatives for finding out candidate's weaknesses without getting prepared answers, such as: 

  • What would you like to improve about yourself?
  • What was the hardest part about your previous role?
  • Tell me about a time when you failed to complete a work task.

If you ask about a candidate's weaknesses in an unconventional way, it's one of those interview questions that can provide the biggest insight into their behaviour and personality.

Why are you motivated to take on this position?

If you cut all the cliché answers and phrases out of this response, the answer to this question goes a long way in illustrating how passionate your future colleague might be. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple and other industry leaders almost always ask this question to their potential new colleagues. Even though it's possible to prepare the answer in advance, making this question less inconvenient than others, you will find out exactly what the candidate expects from your company and the role.

Tell me about your biggest failure.

Given that candidates want to present themselves in the best light, finding a great answer to this question is like walking on eggshells. However, there are no right or wrong answers – the response that you receive from your candidate will simply give you an idea on how well they cope with failure and whether they are willing to admit to making mistakes. With this question, you can spot some of the most important red flags: if a candidate doesn’t own up to their mistakes or blames others for their failures, the behaviour is very likely to continue in the future. Ideally, a candidate would acknowledge their mistakes from the past, learn from them and improve whatever it is that caused them in the first place.

What makes you special?

According to Business Insider, Amazon goes through lengthy processes of hiring people and HR is definitely not afraid to ask some tough questions, including this one. This is a real nightmare of a question for modest and unpretentious candidates, which makes it perfect to see how they react in an uncomfortable situation that calls for humblebragging. This question not only allows you to observe how the candidate reacts when put on the spot, but can also provide you with some interesting facts about the candidate that aren’t visible in their CV or professional background.

Conclusion: Asking the right questions in the right way

As an interviewer, questions are the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. They allow you to see through the ready-made answers and put the candidate on a spot where they actually need to use their critical thinking, improvisation skills, creativity and communication skills. That's why it's important to ask some inconvenient questions in a job interview, alongside the classic ones. You'll probably be surprised by how some candidates react and respond. Nevertheless, it's a great way to get an all-encompassing representation of your future colleague. --- Guest Post Bio: Angela Baker is self-driven specialist who is currently working as a freelance writer at different writing services and is trying to improve herself and her blogging career. She is always seeking to discover new ways for personal and professional growth and is convinced that it’s always important to broaden horizons. That's why Angela develops and improves her skills throughout the writing process to help to inspire people.

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