Awkward job interview questions are tricky interview questions or difficult interview questions. You might feel like answering this type of job interview question can make you look bad.
Awkward job interview questions are different to inappropriate questions, which could lead to discrimination.
Interviewers might ask an awkward question if there are gaps in your resume or work history. They might want to find out the reasons why you left your last job, or why you haven’t had a job for a while.
Don’t spend too much time answering awkward questions. It’s best to deal with them as quickly and as positively as you can.
Here’s a list of our top three awkward job interview questions you might get, and some ways you can answer them.
1. Why did you leave your last job?
Here are some reasons you could give for leaving your last job:
- I’d learned as much as I could there, and I needed a change.
- I had to travel too far to get to work.
- There weren’t any opportunities to progress.
- The shifts my boss wanted me to work clashed with my study.
- I’ve gained more qualifications now, and I’m looking for the next step in my career.
2. Why have you had so many jobs?
You don’t want the interviewer to think you can’t commit to a job. Here are some possible answers to this tricky interview question.
- I wanted to try different jobs to broaden my skills. All the different experience I’ve got gives me lots of things that I can bring to this job.
- I wasn’t sure where I wanted to work. Now I’m clear about what I want to do, so I’m ready to devote myself to one workplace.
You can also include some of the reasons for leaving your job outlined above.
3. Why were you out of work for so long?
You don’t want the interviewer to think that no one wants to employ you. It's better to say you chose to take time off between jobs. This might be because you:
- needed a break for physical or emotional reasons
- wanted to do further study
- were travelling to gain experience
- needed to care for a parent or family member.
Awkward questions are a chance to say something positive
Try to turn a potential negative into a positive. For example, an awkward question might be: ‘Have you ever had a disagreement with your boss?’.
You’re probably tempted to think of disagreements as a bad thing. But disagreements are a normal part of life.
What the interviewer really wants to know is how you deal with conflict. It’s an awkward question because no one wants to talk about unpleasant things like a disagreement.
One way to answer this awkward question
If you say you’ve never disagreed with your boss, the interviewer might think you’ll just accept anything you’re told to do. They might think you’re not brave enough to speak up about finding better ways to do things.
So talk about a real situation you faced, but instead of focusing on the disagreement, focus on the positive outcomes.
Talk about what you did to resolve the situation, and how you used your communication skills. Try to emphasise the benefits for the whole workplace.
For example you might say:
‘The boss wasn’t happy with the way I was doing things, but I convinced her that it was actually saving time. Pretty soon she got me to teach everyone what I was doing.’