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13 Tough Interview Questions And How To Answer Them

Be prepared to encounter some or most of the following “tough questions” in your interview

1.“Why do you want to work here?”

To answer this question, you must have researched the company. You should reply with the company’s attributes as you see them. Cap your answer with reference to your belief that this can provide you with a stable and happy work environment—the interviewer’s company has that reputation—and that such an atmosphere would encourage your best

2.“What kind of experience do you have for this job?”

This is a perfect opportunity to sell yourself, but before you do, be sure you know what is most critical to the interviewer. The interviewer is not just looking for a competent lawyer; he or she is looking for someone who can contribute quickly to the current projects. When interviewing, companies invariably give everyone a broad picture of the job, but the person they hire will be a problem solver, someone who can contribute to the specific projects in the first six months. Only by asking will you identify the areas of your interviewer’s greatest urgency and therefore interest.

If you do not know the projects you will be involved within the first six months, you must ask. Level- headedness and analytical ability are respected, and you will naturally answer the question more appropriately

3.“What did you like/dislike about your last job?”

Most interviews start with a preamble by the interviewer about his company. Pay attention: this information will help you answer the question. In fact, any statement the interviewer makes about the job or corporation can be used to your advantage. Use this to highlight all the positives

Of your last job. criticising a prior employer is a warning flag that you could be a problem employee. Keep your answers short and positive.

4.”Why are you leaving your present position?”

If your current company is not meeting your expectations, you can often explain this in a positive way. “I need to be challenged to develop my potential further. I’m interested in additional responsibility and new opportunity, which unfortunately are limited at (name of current employer) because of (company size/limited product line/company restructuring or downsizing). The reputation and market focus of (name of prospective employer) offers many opportunities for someone with my training and experience. It’s the ideal environment I’ve been seeking.”

5.“How long would you stay with the company?”

The interviewer might be thinking of offering you a job. But, employers are aware that the marketplace is such that new hires often do not stay with the company for more than two years. Your reply might be:

“I would really like to settle down with this company. As long as I am growing professionally, there is no reason for me to make a move.”

6. “Have you done the best work you are capable of doing?”

Say “yes” and the interviewer will think you’re a has-been. As with all these questions, personalise your work history and include the essence of this reply: “I’m proud of my professional achievements to date, but I believe the best is yet to come. I am always motivated to give my best efforts, and in any job there are always opportunities to contribute when one is alert.”

7. “How long would it take you to make a contribution to our company?”

Again, be sure to qualify the question: In what area does the interviewer need rapid contributions? You are best advised to answer this question with a question: “To help me answer, what do you anticipate my responsibilities will be during the first six or seven months?” You give yourself time to think while the interviewer concentrates on images of you working for the company.

8. “What would you like to be doing five years from now?”

The safest answer contains a desire to be regarded as a true professional and team player. As far as promotion, that depends on finding a manager with whom you can grow. Of course, you will ask what opportunities exist within the company before being any more specific: “From what I know and what you have told me about the growth here, it seems operations is where you need the effort and where  I could contribute most toward the company’s goals.”

9. “What are your biggest accomplishments?”

Keep your answers job-related, a number of achievements should spring to mind. Do not exaggerate contributions to major projects. You might begin your reply with: “Although I feel my biggest accomplishments are ahead of me, I am proud of my involvement with…I made my contribution as part of that team and learned a lot in the process. We did it with hard work, concentration, and an eye for the bottom line.”

10. “Can you work under pressure?”

You might be tempted to give a simple yes or no answer, but don’t. It reveals nothing and you lose the opportunity to sell your skills and value profiles. Actually, this common question comes from an unskilled interviewer, because it is closed-ended. As such, it does not give you the chance to elaborate. Whenever you are asked one of these, provide a brief yet comprehensive answer and seize the opportunity to sell yourself. For example, you could say: “Yes, I usually find it stimulating. However, I believe in planning and time management in order to reduce panic deadlines within my area of responsibility.”

11. “What are you looking for in your next job?”

Avoid saying what you want the company to give you. You must say what you want in terms of what you can give to your employer. The key word in the following example is “contribution”: “My experience at the XYZ Corporation has shown me I have a talent for motivating people. This is demonstrated by my team’s absenteeism dropping 20%, turnover steadying at 10 percent, and production increasing 12%. I am looking for an opportunity to continue that kind of contribution, and a company and supervisor who will help me develop in a professional manner.”

12.”Describe a difficult problem you’ve had to deal with.”

This is a favourite tough question. It is designed to probe your professional profile; specifically, your analytical skills: “Well, I always follow a five-step format with a difficult problem. One, I stand back and examine the problem. Two, I recognise the problem as the symptom of other, perhaps hidden, factors. Three, I make a list of possible solutions to the problem. Four, I weigh both the consequences and cost of each solution and determine the best solution. And five, I go to my boss, outline the problem, make my recommendation, and ask for my supervisor’s advice and approval.” Then give an example of a problem and your solution.

13 “What would your references say?”

You have nothing to lose by being positive. If you demonstrate how well you and your boss get along, the interviewer does not have to ask, “What do you dislike about your current manager?” Any job offer is always subject to satisfactory reference.


Candidate Services


Keane McDonald is an international executive legal recruitment firm focusing on legal appointments. We specialise in the recruitment of legal professionals for private practice clients and in-house legal departments located in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. We source lawyers at all ranks from recently qualified up to Partner and Board level. With our bespoke approach to each client and candidate, we endeavour to deliver a first class solution always.

We currently have of a number legal jobs in Dublin, Ireland, London, Australia, Asia, Cayman Islands, Channel Islands