Talent

How to respond to tough interview questions

Amy Schofield 08 February 2018

 

‘Why should I give you the job?’ 

 

As competition for jobs increases, your response to those tricky interview questions could make the difference between a job offer and a rejection. Medicalsalescv.com’s June Frame offers some advice on how to impress your potential employer.

It is much tougher to get a job in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors today. Recruitment is a major investment for any organisation – successful employees are naturally pivotal to the success of any company. But for the candidate, being interviewed can be stressful and feel more like being on trial, facing a barrage of difficult and tricky questions and trying not to be ‘caught out’ on the answers. 

As competition for the best jobs increases, employers are comparing more and more applicants for each role and asking more tough questions. Those candidates who do well at interview generally have the distinction of having prepared thoroughly beforehand. They know that the day is not won purely on skills and merits alone, but on how effectively these are communicated to their potential employer, and can demonstrate that they are ‘best fit’ for the job as well as someone who will contribute to the company.

 

 

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Case study 1 
Sarah, an acute specialist from London, feels that her response to this question let her down in previous interviews – “I had valid reasons for wanting to move but I didn’t demonstrate enough enthusiasm for the company I was applying to. Once I researched more into the company, I was able to show the interviewer I wanted to work for them, rather than just get away from my current job. This made all the difference to how I answered his questions and let me ask some of my own that reinforced my keenness to be part of that organisation.”

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In the course of an interview you may be asked a lot of questions that are searching, probe into your work history, skill and experience, and some that will test your confidence and quick thinking. 


They are designed so that your potential employer can gather information to make decisions in key areas such as: 
• Can you do this job? – Is there a match in your skills, experience and achievements? 
• How will you fit in with the existing team/company? Being able to do the job is one thing, fitting in and making a positive contribution another. 
• Will you be motivated to go that extra mile in your work? 
• Will you be easy or challenging to work with and manage? 


Recognising what the interviewer is looking for is the key. Employers are looking for someone not just to do a job, but to fit in and make a contribution. They are also on the lookout for talent for growth and development and therefore need to identify certain traits, competencies and capabilities which straightforward questioning might not reveal.

 

What you say and how you say it

 

The interviewer is going to throw in some tricky questions that may catch the candidate off guard (they are supposed to!) and it’s important to understand it’s not just your answer that matters, its how you answer. Questions looking at reasons for wanting to leave your current job, how you deal with disappointments etc are all designed to see if you are made of the right stuff. 

The main thing is to present every answer in a positive way: every ‘negative’ experience has a spin-off that can be used to your advantage; interviewers really want to see a positive ‘can do’ attitude, so it pays to demonstrate that you have learned lessons from the past and that makes you more effective now.

 

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Case study 2 
Vicky from the Midlands repeatedly got this one wrong: “I was very keen to get into marketing once I had some sales experience in a pharmaceutical company, but managed to give the interviewers the impression I had no interest in sales whatsoever and wanted promotion almost immediately! Making a career plan showing a clear progression from sales to marketing helped me not only to answer that question better, but to put it into action to attain my goal.”

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Tougher questions and how to handle them

 

“Why did you leave your last job/are you leaving your current job?” 

 

This is a common question, so it is important to have an acceptable reason for every career move, such as: 
• You were unable to grow professionally in that position. There was no possibility of advancement. 
• You had taken the role as a means to advance, say for a promotion, a chance to take on new responsibilities, e.g. first line management; now you have a successful track record, it’s time to make a move to a company where you plan to develop your career over the next few years. (Do have relevant reasons for choosing the particular company you are applying to?) 
Avoid at all costs any negative comments about your boss or teammates. This starts alarm bells ringing in the interviewer’s mind: they want a team player and someone who will not be a nightmare to manage!

 

“How do you deal with missing targets/disappointments?” 

 

A trained interviewer will ask about disappointments: they are different from failures and give the interviewee an opportunity to shine. It gives you the chance to show how you benefited from a negative experience, turning it into a learning experience – it’s a good idea to sum up your answer with an analytical response, looking at what happened, how it happened, what you have learned and would do differently next time.

 

“What weaknesses do you have?” 

 

What you need for this one is a weakness that can actually benefit the company, demonstrating the qualities of an ideal candidate. Therefore, the weakness you mention should not be in one of the areas you need to demonstrate strength to succeed in the available job. An example answer would be a tendency to spend too many hours at work, jumping in to help team mates with projects, trying to attain perfection etc.

 

“Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?” 

 

Here, the interviewer wants to know that your longer-term goals are compatible with his or her company goals or interests; the most senior person interviewing is also looking for talent to join the organisation. You may be fiercely ambitious but it’s important to let them know that you are keen to prove yourself in the job you are applying for, contributing to the company by focusing skills and energies into areas that are key to success. 
It’s a good question to ask yourself too; having a clear career path in mind will help you to handle this question well. Allowing around two years for each job before the next promotion will clarify in your mind where you want to be within that time scale.

 

“Why should I give you the job?” 

 

This question needs a succinct answer. Briefly summarise the key responsibilities of the job, highlighting your experience and skills to match them, and finish your answer with a couple of key personal attributes, e.g. being a good team player, a great problem solver etc. 
There are many tough and tricky questions, but by understanding the purpose of those questions and preparing to present your skills and experience in the most compelling light (and win over the interviewer while still being truthful) you are on your way to turning a job interview into a job offer!

 

www.medicalsalescv.com specialises in working with individuals to secure their ideal job within the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. From writing compelling and concise CVs and cover letters through to personal coaching for interview, we offer solutions for candidates which greatly increase their chances of succeeding in the application and selection process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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