Interviewers like to throw in a few tough questions to test your ability to perform under pressure and to try to work out what makes you tick.  For many interviewees, these questions can cause panic, especially when you’re not expecting to be put on the spot. However, it is possible to prepare for the most common tough questions in advance.

As long as you’ve researched the role and the company, you should have a pretty good idea of the sort of person they are looking for, allowing you to match your skills, experience and personality to their ideal employee for the post.   Some common tough questions include:

Tell Us About Yourself – This sort of open question can be daunting. How much information is too much? What the interviewer is looking for here is an outline of how your work experience aligns to the job description, there’s no need to give them your life story. Keep it short but when you’ve finished, it’s always good practice to ask them if they would like any more detail.

Why Have You Applied for this Job? – This is your chance to show you are well informed about the company and its products or services, and enthusiastic about working for them. Make sure you’ve done your research!

Why Should We Employ You? – This question can sound quite challenging and it’s important not to be arrogant in your response, or to come across as defensive. Be charming, outline how your specific skills match what they are looking for and make the point that you are great to work with.

What Are Your Strengths? – On the surface this is a chance to really boast but it’s important not to get carried away in your response! Choose one thing about your personality or skillset that aligns with what they are looking for. Again, it’s always best to keep your answer short and sweet but ask them if they’d like to know more before moving on rather than risk an awkward silence while they wait for more detail.

What Are Your Weaknesses? – Everybody’s favourite! The trick with this one is to show not that you have weaknesses – everybody does – but how you solve problems. For example, if you once struggled with time management, tell them you take to keep yourself on track. Do not, under any circumstances, tell them that your greatest weakness is perfectionism. They will definitely have heard that one before.

How Well do You Work Under Stress (or Pressure)? This question is another chance to talk about your ability to solve problems and rise to a challenge. With a military background, you’ll doubtless have a few examples here. When giving your answer, try to remember the STAR technique;

S – Situation – what was the problem?

T – Task – what did you need to do to solve it?

A – Action – what exactly did you do?

R – Result – how did this benefit your team/organisation?

If you are nervous that you’ll forget how to answer these or any other likely questions, remember that it’s perfectly fine to bring in some notes, the job description and/or your CV and refer to them during the interview. In fact, many employers will see this as a sign of good organisation, so it could work in your favour!