Career Coaching

5 challenging interview questions for mature job seekers– how to shine

By: Dale Simpson

Are you a mature job seeker looking to stand out in the interview process? With competition continuing to heat up and employers raising the bar, it's more important than ever for applicants to be prepared. The best way to do that is by familiarising yourself with difficult interview questions and knowing how to answer them. 

In this blog post, we'll be discussing five tough interview questions and providing insight around what the employer is truly seeking from an applicant plus some essential tips on how you can confidently respond. 

Remember, that the worst case scenario is that the interviewer knows what they are doing - if they know what they are doing, then their primary objective is to get to know you.  They can’t do this unless you know yourself.

Q 1 When was the last time you failed?

Here the emphasis is on taking ownership of mistakes and providing tangible evidence of steps taken to improve.  Focus on the wisdom you have gathered.  Wisdom usually rides on the back of mistakes and learnings – ask any mentor.

Everyone has a weakness, and learning how to address it is a key component of professional growth. When an interviewer asks about your greatest weakness remember that this question provides an opportunity to demonstrate that you’re aware of your areas for improvement. 

Focus on taking ownership of the challenges you’ve faced in the past and provide evidence of the steps you’ve taken to mitigate these challenges and grow. This could mean giving real examples such as working with a mentor or taking classes, or simply reflecting on ways that help prevent mistakes in the future. By showing that you take ownership of challenges, both past and future, you demonstrate shows maturity while providing tangible evidence of steps taken toward improving yourself professionally.


Q 2 Why should we hire you?  

This is about matching yourself to the role. It is an invitation to own the role. Showcase your unique strengths and how they align with the requirements of the position. Highlight your specific skills, experiences and successes that demonstrate your ability to contribute to the company's success. 

A good answer should be tailored to the specific position and company, showing that you have done your research and are invested in the opportunity. Ultimately, this question is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from other candidates and make a strong case for why you would be an asset to the team. Make sure you deliver your answer with relevant behavioural examples.


Q 3 Why apply for this role with us?  

Here we recommend you discuss research you have done into the company's culture, values, and mission statement.

When preparing for a job interview, all job seekers should do their research on potential employers. Understanding the company's culture, values and mission statement is an important step in this process. It helps you present yourself as someone who has a genuine interest in their organisation and the goals they are striving to achieve. 

Taking the time to understand these elements can help make it easier to answer tough interview questions and give a good impression. A thoughtful research process into a company's background will help portray your authority and real interest when asked “What do you know about our company?”.

Remember you also need to make a decision as to whether or not the company and role are suitable for you - research works both ways.


Q 4 How would you handle a difficult working relationship?

Here offer examples of past experiences handling difficult peers, superiors, or team members and how they were resolved effectively.

Tough team members can be the bane of any leader, but with the right set of skills and strategies for resolution, even the most difficult team member issues can be handled in a professional, respectful manner. 

For example, during my 10 years in management positions, I successfully negotiated through numerous team dynamics between difficult team members by recognising and understanding their key goals and motivations; then by creating an open dialogue, listening attentively and offering different perspectives as well as utilising team retreats or joint problem-solving conferences. This was all with the intention of keeping team unity at the forefront while striving to reach beneficial outcomes for all involved. 

Coping with these situations requires patience, compassion, (you may not know what sits behind the behavior), and experience gained over the years and can make all the difference when it comes to successful team collaborations. Making this point in the interview solidifies your position as an experienced contender for the role.


Q 5 How do you see yourself progressing over the next five years?

Emphasise your intention to continue to grow professionally, gain further experience and commit to longer-term professional development.

Investing time in developing a career plan for the next five years is an excellent way to ensure that your goals stay front and centre - no matter what twists and turns might be ahead in the larger job market.

This is as much about how your values and priorities may change over time.  Clearly none of us can accurately predict the future, let alone ours.   As we age, we become wiser, our responsibilities change.  If we have children, they get older, the same with our parents.  So what we value and how we place importance on those things that matter change.  

While it is important to be prepared for some of the tougher interview questions so you are not caught off guard, remember it does not have to be an adversarial experience. 

In closing: 


Remember that a successful interview is not the one where you get chosen for the role, it is the one where all parties come to a mutually agreed decision as to whether or not to proceed.

For help preparing for interviews or creating your career plan speak to one of our consultants at Bravo Careers today.