Answer Like a Pro: 5 Most Difficult Interview Questions

With the graduate recruitment season in full swing, it’s time to go over the basics and nail one of the most crucial parts of the job-seeking process, the Interview!

*|MC:SUBJECT|*
With the graduate recruitment season in full swing, it’s time to go over the basics and nail one of the most crucial parts of the job-seeking process, the Interview! After doing a little research across a range of platforms, blogs, and job-seeking websites, these five interview questions have been considered the most challenging during graduate interviews.

1. What are your weaknesses?

Recruiters and Interviewers often ask this question to get a sense of your self-awareness and learn more about how you are actively seeking to improve yourself. While interviews are a chance for you to show off all your skills and talents, it is also a time to showcase vulnerability, so recruiters can see that you have the ability to self-reflect.

There are four key components you’ll want to answer to ace this question!

- What is a weakness of yours that you have identified?
- How has it impacted your work/life to date?
- How are you addressing this and working on it?
- Have you noticed changes since working on this weakness?

Example: “One weakness I’ve been working on is that I often over-think things. I understand how this only increases my stress and decreases my overall performance and productivity. To improve this, I have been using a planner to break down my work tasks to ensure I stay on track and not become overwhelmed. I also like to go to the gym and exercise daily to clear my head and de-stress after a long day. In doing this, it has helped decrease my anxiety levels, and I have found that it has improved my self-confidence in my work and abilities.”

2. Why do you want to work here?

When applying for graduate and internship roles, you’ll often see this question come up during the application process and in the interview. Recruiters ask this question to make sure that you’ve put some thought into your application and have done your research on their company. If you are applying for a graduate role in a field outside of your majors and studies, this question will be particularly important to recruiters. 

To ace this question, think about the following:

  • What are your values, and what are you looking for in a company?
  • How does their company align with the traits you’ve listed?
  • How can you make an impact on the company?
  • Example: “I’ve always wanted to work with a company that is committed to integrity, technology advancement, and innovation.  I  know that I can contribute to this industry, by using my skills in business management to advance the growth of the company and drive targeted sales.”

3. Tell me about a time you failed?

Recruiters often ask these questions to determine whether you can take responsibility for your shortcomings and that you can learn from your mistakes. It shows recruiters that you can be mature by not making excuses for yourself or blaming others for your mistakes.

To ace this question, use the STAR format and answer the following:

  • Situation: Give some background.
  • Task: What was your role, and what was supposed to happen?
  • Action: What did you do? And how did it go wrong?
  • Result: What was the result? Looking back, what could you have done differently?

Example: “During my second year of studies, I took on an additional job on top of my current part-time work, studies, and extra-curricular activities. During test week in the semester, I found it difficult to manage two jobs and my classwork and neglected to study for one of my tests. I went into the test feeling unprepared and was not able to give it my best shot. Looking back, I realised that I should have managed my time better and not taken on a new project with all my other commitments. I’ve started using a daily planner and yearly calendar to plan out when I will be the busiest so I will not be overwhelmed with my commitments.”

4. What is your greatest achievement?

When recruiters ask this question, there are several things they are interested in learning about you. This question helps them to understand what your values are, how you view success, and whether you have  a drive for success. This question can even give recruiters an insight into your soft skills such as communication and teamwork.

Ready to ace this question? Use the STAR method to describe your achievement:

  • Situation: In what context did your achievement occur?
  • Task: What was the challenge or goal that you had to complete
  • Action: what role did you actively play? And what skills did you use?
  • Result: What was the result? What did you learn? And why is this your greatest achievement?

Example: “My greatest achievement is when I got full marks on a peer presentation and essay assignment in a university paper. I was partnered up with another girl in my class and had to create an interactive and engaging 20-minute presentation based on the course content. There was a lot of material to cover, so my partner and I split up all the readings and lectures work up evenly and came up with ideas on how this would be best presented. We spent a couple of weeks working through the material and developing an engaging presentation together. The lecturer was very pleased with our work, and we received full marks. We were also offered the opportunity to showcase our work to the rest of the class.”  

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Graduate recruiters ask this question as they don’t want to invest in hiring and training a graduate that will not be committed to their company. Recruiters want to know about your career goals, motivations, and how well they align with the company. This question gives recruiters an insight into whether you have realistic expectations for your career path, if you are ambitious and if the role aligns with your growth and goals overall.

Ace it in 4 steps!

  • Showcase your passion for the job position available.
  • Be honest and think about your long-term career goals.
  • Be well informed about the company
  • Express how you would like to grow within the field and the company.

Example: “After reading the job description for this position, I was excited about the company’s role in helping the community and, for this reason, I am so thrilled at the possibility of working with your company long term. In five years, I can see myself developing my passion and experience in youth work. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be fully involved in this area. I’d love to grow more within this position and take on more exciting community outreach projects in the future if the opportunity arises.”

Summed up, these are the five most difficult questions graduate students face during the interview process and the best ways to answer them. With confidence and these tips in your back pocket, we’re sure you’ll nail that grad interview! 

- Eleanor Almeida, Nxtstep Content Writer

Tags

Other advice you might like

Tips On How To Increase Your Productivit . . .
Productivity. As a student, you'll probably hear and learn lots about this from lecturers, students, and study tips online. Being productive can be ea . . .
Tips for Adjusting to Uni Life after Col . . .
It’s best to become prepared for anything that comes your way, and this article will allow me to give some advice to you to help ease your journey thr . . .
Top Tips for Standing out at an Assessme . . .
It’s normal to feel daunted by the idea of having to spend hours under such scrutiny. To help you out, we’ve compiled some top tips to help you put yo . . .
How to Create a Great Elevator Pitch
Most of us already have a general idea of an elevator pitch and have been on the receiving end of one at some point in our lives. In this article, we’ . . .
Myths about Arts Degrees
Sadly, there is still an overwhelming amount of stigma surrounding creative studies in this day and age. We’ve all heard the myths and horror stories . . .
Why you should consider applying for a G . . .
Applying for a graduate programme is rewarding in so many different ways. Throughout the process, you will be challenged to think and innovate as you . . .
Best Study Spots in Your City
A change of pace is one of the best ways to boost your motivation and study routine. Studying at different places is proven to improve comprehension a . . .
5 Tips to study effectively
Studying is not a race or a last-minute cramming session to see positive results; create a timetable to manage your schedule and set yourself up for s . . .
Exam Stress: Free Apps to help deal with . . .
A bit of stress isn’t always bad and sometimes can keep you motivated and productive. However, too much stress will have the opposite effect and may t . . .
Top 5 Things you should never do in an I . . .
We often talk about how to ace your interviews, but there are also many things that you should avoid doing in your interview to catch that job.
How to Survive the first week of your Su . . .
Congratulations! You've worked through the application process and landed yourself an incredible summer internship! Here are our top 8 survival tips f . . .
What you need to know before starting Su . . .
If you’re considering summer school or will be attending for the first time this summer, here are our tips for what you need to know before you start.
8 Ways to Make Summer Classes More Inter . . .
Taking summer school is a responsible choice that can make the rest of a uni student’s year run smoothly. To help you out, here are eight ways to make . . .
Career Paths For a Commerce Student
Commerce falls beneath the broader umbrella of business; it is the exchange of goods and services, especially on a large scale. Studying commerce mean . . .
The Power of Networking: How Students Ca . . .
As digital natives, networking has become a powerful tool to secure dream jobs and get a foot in any industry. Knowledge is power, but who you know is . . .
7 Creative Summer Jobs for Uni Students
A few fun summer jobs that are perfect for a university student are fruit picking, dog walking, volunteering at summer events and being a lifeguard. M . . .
How to be the most Epic Intern
There are a few tricks to secure your position as the most epic intern; being punctual is a given, volunteering for undesirable tasks, asking question . . .
How to Effectively Allocate your Exam Ti . . .
With exam season within sight, here are our top 6 tips to making the most out of every minute in your exam. Follow along with these steps, and you’ll . . .
Ways to Leverage Social Media for Profes . . .
Social media is now a fundamental form of communication, so using social media effectively is an excellent way to leverage your networking. 
6 Cheap Summer Activities for Uni Studen . . .
Being a uni student can mean that funds are pretty tight sometimes, and when it comes to summer activities, we prefer them free or cheap.
12 Ways to Ace the Phone Interview
Phone interviews are critically important; it’s the first point of contact you will have with potential employers. Making a good impression is essenti . . .
How To Make The Most out of Your Summer . . .
Three months of summer sounds like a long time, but before you know it, it’s all flown by. So that you don’t find yourself wondering what you’ve done . . .
Money Savings Tips for First Time Uni St . . .
Being a first-time uni student can be financially challenging; there are a lot of external expenses that you may not have considered on top of everyth . . .
Avoid these top mistakes in writing your . . .
This article will detail 5 top mistakes to avoid when writing a cover letter to recruiters for your job application and applying to graduate programme . . .
Student Mental Well-being: Why is it imp . . .
Whether you’re adjusting as a first-year student or a third-year student juggling uni and placement, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed.
10 Annoying Questions Every Recent Gradu . . .
While congratulations are in order and celebrations are in full swing, there is a downside to graduating. Who would have known?
Best Music to Listen to While Studying
Listening to music can be a great way to help you focus and add a productive boost to your study environment. To help you make the right selection, he . . .
How to Avoid Toxic Positivity
Toxic positivity is holding the belief that everything will be alright, regardless of how dire or challenging life may become. Being too optimistic ca . . .
Answer Like a Pro: 5 Most Difficult Inte . . .
With the graduate recruitment season in full swing, it’s time to go over the basics and nail one of the most crucial parts of the job-seeking process, . . .
6 Best Apps for Students
Smartphones often get a bad rap as detriments to our productivity. But ask any phone savvy student with a bit of self-control and they will tell you t . . .
Four Ways to Push Yourself Outside of Yo . . .
Throughout my studies there have been all sorts of activities that I have engaged with, that have really pushed me outside my comfort zone. Summed up . . .
Top Habits of Successful Students
Whether a new or returning student, it is a fundamental need in university to have top habits to best maximise your time and become a successful stude . . .
Why you should consider having a part-ti . . .
Having a part-time job while studying offers an array of benefits, from financial support to gaining confidence as an employee. You’ll begin to build . . .
Exam Preparation Tips: How to Ace It
Exam Season got you on edge? NxtStep has got you sorted! Here are our quick-fire and fool-proof hacks to help you survive exams at University!
Extra-Curricular Activities that Merits . . .
Besides just getting good grades in university, extra-curricular activities show employers that you have a versatile skill set that could benefit thei . . .
Generalist vs Specialist: Is one better . . .
There are two broad categories in the job market: generalist roles and specialist roles. Deciding between the two is one of the earliest and most impo . . .
Exam Prep: 10 Do's and Don'ts before an . . .
Exams are one of the most crucial factors of a student's time at university. The results of your exams can be the defining feature of whether you end . . .
10 Netflix Shows Every Student Should Wa . . .
Here are 10 Netflix shows that can help teach you a lesson or two about uni life and navigating all the ups and downs to come.
Tips on How to Take Lecture Notes that a . . .
Taking notes effectively becomes a habit once you’ve figured out what works best for you. You’ll find you won’t have to cram before exams because you . . .
Avoid these 10 Goal Setting Mistakes
Over the years, as my study motivation grows and wanes, I have fallen in and out of the goal-setting phase. Here are some of the mistakes I’ve learnt . . .
5 Reasons why Agriculture is a great Ind . . .
If you are looking for a graduate job, the agriculture sector is on your list. Check out our five reasons why you should consider a career in agricult . . .
The Art and Power of Storytelling: Leadi . . .
Fictional narratives have their value in entertainment, but storytelling is also a must-have career skill. It is one of the most powerful tools you ca . . .
Learning from Star Athletes of the 2021 . . .
Over generations, the Olympics have demonstrated world-class performances from star athletes that have been awe-inspiring and serve as great motivatio . . .
10 Healthy Ways to deal with Stress as a . . .
As Uni Students, stress seems to come along with the package, which sucks! Here at nxtstep, we’ve done the research and have put together our top 10 h . . .
The 7 Things You Need to do Before Your . . .
If your summer internship is about to wrap up, check out these seven things you need to do before your internship ends!
Earth Day - The top 5 Ways Students can . . .
Happy World Earth Day! Yes, that’s right, 22nd April is World Earth Day! World Earth day is a great day to reflect and think about your carbon footpri . . .
How To Turn a Job Rejection Into an Oppo . . .
A big part of the interviewing process is the end result. You will either be offered a position in the company or receive a rejection. While the goal . . .
Flatting as a Student: Why you should do . . .
The only way you get to experience a well-rounded student life while at university is to do it all. Part of this is diving into the deep end and movin . . .