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How to land your dream job: Recruitment expert reveals how to answer difficult interview questions 


It is undoubtedly a bleak time in the job market, with one in five bosses planning to lay off layoffs when the scheme expires this month.

Brexit, the pandemic and the furlough have created a perfect storm for the UK job market, meaning mall industries are fighting hard to survive the ongoing pandemic, and competition for jobs is fierce.

If you’re looking for a new role after losing your job — or just desperate for your current job — it’s never been more important to make sure you stand out from the crowd.

To equip you with the skills for those virtual interviews, FEMAIL spoke to Tony Gregg, chief executive at Anthony Gregg Partnerships, a high-end recruitment search firm with senior and executive positions in the UK and Europe.

Tony recruits top talent for retail executives such as John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Fortnum & Mason and SCS into their new roles.

To equip you with the skills for those virtual interviews, FEMAIL spoke to Tony Gregg, chief executive at Anthony Gregg Partnerships, a high-end recruitment search firm with senior and executive positions in the UK and Europe (stock image).

Here, he shares the ten most frequently asked questions in interviews — and how best to answer them.

Tony revealed: ‘Some questions are often asked in interviews and you need to prepare your answers in advance.

“When you’re faced with a difficult question, make sure you stay calm, don’t get defensive, and take a moment to think about your answer before answering.”

Meanwhile, he said interviewees should “personalize responses as much as possible.”

Question 1. Tell us about yourself

Tony revealed that interviewees should be “brief” and “to the point” when answering questions during the discussion.

He said, ‘Identify and remember some of your most important qualities.

“Describe your qualifications, career history and range of skills, emphasizing those skills that are relevant to the job being offered.”

Maximize your resume by making it ‘clear’ why you are the right person for the position

Tony reveals: ‘A resume should not be a resume that fits all vacancies.

“A good resume takes time and effort, creating a document that highlights your skills and experience and charts it with the requirement and described in the job description.

‘Suppose you’re the potential employer and you’re flipping through a bunch of resumes.

You have to want to make their lives as easy as possible by explaining why you are the right person for the opportunity and at the very least justifying an interview.”

Q2. What is your performance so far?

Tony advised highlighting a recent achievement in an interview scenario.

He said, “Choose an achievement that is work-related and fairly recent.

“Identify the skills you used in the performance and quantify the benefit it brought to the company.”

Tony continued, “For example, “My greatest achievement was designing and implementing a new sales ledger system, timely implementation and significantly improving our accounts receivable position, saving the company $50,000 in interest per month.”

Q3. Are you satisfied with your career so far?

The recruiting expert explains: ‘This question is really about your self-esteem, confidence and career aspirations.

‘The answer should be ‘yes’, followed by a short explanation of what you’ve done about your career so far that makes you happy.

“If you’ve reached a career plateau, or you think you’re moving too slowly, you need to qualify your answer.”

Q4. What is the most difficult situation you have faced and how did you handle it?

Tony said, “The purpose of this question is to find out what your definition of difficult is and if you can demonstrate a logical approach to problem solving.

‘To present yourself in a positive light, choose a difficult work situation that was not caused by you and that you can quickly explain in a few sentences.

“Explain how you defined the problem, what the options were, why you chose the one you did, and what the outcome was.

“Always end on a positive note.”

Tony Gregg, pictured, is chief executive at Anthony Gregg Partnerships, a high-end recruitment search firm

Tony Gregg, pictured, is chief executive at Anthony Gregg Partnerships, a high-end recruitment search firm

V5. What do you like about your current job?

Tony called this one of the most ‘simple’ questions asked during an interview, explaining, ‘All you need to do is make sure your ‘likes’ match the skills etc required for the offered track.

‘Be enthusiastic; describe your job as interesting and diverse, but don’t overdo it – after all, you want to leave.’

Q6. What don’t you like about your current job?

Tony said, ‘Be careful with this answer.

“Don’t be too specific as you can draw attention to weaknesses that expose you to further problems.”

He continued, “One approach is to choose a characteristic of your current business such as size or slow decision-making processes etc.

“Give your answer with the aura of someone who solves problems and frustrations for you as part of the job.”

Name hobbies where you work as part of a team

Tony explained, ‘Chatting about personal interests is a great way to start an interview, especially if they are a shared interest with the interviewer.

“You already have something in common: a connection.

“But the main reason hobbies are on the resume is that they are an icebreaker and therefore a great way to feel a little more comfortable and relaxed.

‘Hobbies involving activities such as reading are fine.

‘What you stand out with are other activities in which you act as a team.

Also give examples of how you use your free time to stay fit, show that you are motivated and take care of your well-being.

Q7. What are your strengths?

The recruiting expert said: ‘This is a question you know you’re going to get, so there’s no excuse for being unprepared.

“Focus on discussing your key strengths.

Name three or four skills, for example your ability to learn quickly, determination to succeed, a positive attitude, your ability to interact with people and achieve a common goal.

“You may be asked to give examples of the above, so be prepared.”

Q8. What is your biggest weakness?

Tony explained that there are several ways to answer the difficult question of ‘weaknesses’.

He said, ‘Don’t say you don’t have one – this will lead to further problems.

“You have two options: use a claimed weakness, such as lack of experience, not ability, on your part in an area that is not essential to the job.

“The second option is to describe a personal or professional weakness that could also be considered a strength, and the steps you took to combat it.”

He continued: An example would be “I know my team thinks I’m too demanding sometimes – I tend to ride pretty hard but I’m getting much better at using the carrot and not the stick”.

Question 9 Why do you want to leave your current employer?

The recruiting expert revealed that candidates should stay positive when discussing their current job.

He said: ‘State how you are looking for a new challenge, more responsibility, experience and a change of scenery.

“Don’t be negative in your reasons for leaving. It’s seldom appropriate to list salary as your primary motivator.’

Q10. Why did you apply for this particular job?

According to Tony, asking this question reveals that the interviewer may be looking at how well you might fit into the role.

He said: ‘The employer is looking for evidence that the job is right for you, fits your general aptitude, aligns with your long-term goals, and that you’re doing things you enjoy.

‘Make sure you understand the position and the organization well and describe the characteristics of the organization that interest you most. ‘

Other questions to consider when preparing for a job interview

  • How does your position fit in with your department and company?
  • What do you like about this industry?
  • Give an example of when you have worked under pressure.
  • What kind of people do you like to work with?
  • Give me an example of when your work was criticized.
  • Give me an example of when you’ve felt anger at work.
  • How did you cope and still perform well?
  • What kind of people do you find it difficult to work with?
  • Give me an example of when you have faced a conflict of interest at work.
  • Tell me about the last time you disagreed with your boss.
  • Give me an example of when you don’t get along with others.
  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a group? Why?
  • This organization is very different from your current employer – how do you think you’re going to fit in?
  • What are you looking for in a company?
  • How do you measure your own performance?
  • What pressure do you face at work?
  • Are you a self-starter? Give me examples to demonstrate this?
  • What changes in the workplace have troubled you and why?
  • How do you like working long days and/or weekends?
  • Give me an example of when you’ve been out of your depth.
  • What have you not achieved so far?
  • What can you bring to this organization?


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