Dubai-based HR specialist shares her tips to answering five tough job interview questions


DUBAI – How you answer job interview questions can often spell the difference between getting hired or not. While some interview questions are expected, others can be random. No wonder a lot of unprepared jobseekers stumble through interviews. talked to Vagelyn Tumbaga-Federico, Human Resources Director of Dusit Thani Dubai, to give us an HR specialist’s point of view on how you can answer five tough interview questions and move closer to a job offer.

In the latest of a series on HR tips, the award-winning human resources specialist shares her top 5 picks and tips.

What motivates you?

Vagelyn says: The best answers to this question are honest, and related to the job. Think about specific aspects of the job you would enjoy. Answers you could give are “I am motivated by having set targets to work towards and achieving them” (this would be good for a sales role), or “I’m motivated by working in a team” (if the job involves teamwork). It’s also a good idea to back up your answers with examples from work or extra-curricular activities.

For example, if it’s your first job you could back up the teamwork answer by talking about a sports team you were part of at university.

How do you manage your time?

Vagelyn says: To answer this question successfully, be specific, but talk about techniques you use rather than specific examples. For example “I write down a list of all the tasks I have to do, then work out how long each task will take, which ones are urgent, and which ones are the most important. Then I prioritise accordingly, and tick off each task when it has completed.” It doesn’t matter what system you use, but be prepared to explain it during the interview to prove you can do the job.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Vagelyn says: The key to answering this question successfully is to be enthusiastic without sounding too arrogant, and sound committed to the job. “Working somewhere else”, or even “Running my own company” probably aren’t the answers the interviewer wants to hear, even if they are true! It’s best to describe working in the industry at the level above where you are now, for example “I’m hoping I will have progressed into a management role and be involved with training new employees”. Specific details will win you points, for example “I will have achieved a professional qualification in X”, so it’s a good idea to research the industry and the job role you are applying for.

What’s your biggest weakness?

Vagelyn says: This is a tough one, as no one wants to reveal their shortcomings in an interview! The best thing to do is describe a weakness which isn’t related to the job, then describe a strength you use to combat it. For example, if the job role has a lot of variety, you could say “I find I get bored easily if I’m doing the same task for a long period of time, which is why I am looking for a role with variety.” Or “I find I get nervous when speaking in public, so make sure I am well organised and prepare what I am saying beforehand.” (Obviously don’t use that one if it’s a sales role!)

Another way to answer the question is to use a weakness that could also be viewed as a strength. For example, “I’m a strong team player, so I get frustrated when other team members don’t share the same enthusiasm”.

Describe a time when you…

Vagelyn says: Particularly favoured by graduate employers, competency questions can be tricky to answer. The best way to prepare is to think about your previous education, work and extra-curricular experiences and think of some good examples that can be used to answer the questions. When answering the questions, make sure to use the STAR format: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Describe what particular actions you took to solve the problem and the results of those actions. You can use a bit of artistic license, but it’s best not to tell an outright lie as this will be easy for the interviewer to pick up on.


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