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The hardest interview questions and how to answer them



It’s pretty much always the case that the hardest questions you’ll have to answer in a job interview are also the most common. Understanding how to tackle them without hesitation will put you ahead of every other applicant. 


We’ve put together a brief list of some of the most common and most difficult interview questions that you’ll come across. Let’s find out the best way of approaching them. 


Tell me about yourself 


Ok, so perhaps not a question in the proper sense, but still a tricky one to tackle. Usually a candidate will use this time to ramble on about their personality and non-relevant hobbies and interests, which are completely unrelated to the job they are applying for. Avoid this at all costs. 


Instead, try to word your response as a slightly more detailed version of your CV. Elaborate on a bit more of your early life, education, work history and recent relevant work experiences. 


But don’t get carried away. Keep your response to about one or two minutes in length. This is usually an opening question, so you’ll have the opportunity to provide further details as the interview process continues. 



What are your weaknesses?


The best way to approach this one is always with a positive. Being self-deprecating in an interview situation may seem a little strange and counter-intuitive, but it’s valuable information for the interviewer to understand how you deal with your own shortcomings. 


Explain what you struggle with, for example impatience, and then go into detail about how you overcome this weakness. Focusing on how you manage this shows you ability to improve and grow within the company you’re applying for. 



What was wrong with your last employer?


The interviewer will want to know why you’re leaving behind a perfectly good job in order to join their company. Your answer will help them to understand what you expect from the job role and whether or not that’s something their company could provide. 


Remember DO NOT use this as a chance to bad-mouth your old job. Nothing is less attractive to an employer than someone who shifts blame onto others.


Instead, express a desire to move on, evolve and take on a new challenge. Spin your response to reflect the positive aspects of the job you’re applying for, and how it will help you develop your career. 



Have you ever had to work with a difficult person?


The response to this type of competency styled question will show what kind of person you are to work with. 


As with the weaknesses questions, this will test your ability to overcome adversity. Recall a specific time, and elaborate on how you dealt with it. Talk about what you learnt from the experience, and how it has improved your interpersonal skills. 

You will be expected to work alongside different people within your role, so it’s important that you’re able to demonstrate how well you work as part of a team. 



Where do you see yourself in five years?


This is an extremely popular question that interviewers like to ask. It tests your research abilities and your general knowledge of the career path you’ve chosen. 


They won’t want to hear about how much you love the company and want to work there forever, but neither do they want to hear an answer that is unrelated to the job itself. 


Make sure your response incorporates your own skills and experience with your career aspirations, and relate this to what the company does and how you could thrive within it. This will make you look enthusiastic and well-versed in your chosen industry. 


What should I hire you?


Usually the final question, it’s a chance to sell yourself as the absolute best choice for the role - so it’s crucial you rehearse what you’re going to say. 


Often it’s this very common question that catches people out because they don’t read the job description carefully enough and fail to go into any relevant detail about why they are the best person to choose for the job. 


Make sure that you carry out research on the position - nail down the responsibilities and link them to your own expertise and past experiences to prove you are the best candidate, as opposed to just vaguely passionate. 


Being confident, honest and doing a bit of research will take you far in any interview. There’s no reason you couldn’t answer these questions as long as you do your homework on the business and know exactly why you’re the best possible candidate for the job.

Agenda's Guide to Getting Ahead: The Competency Based Interview


Congratulations! You’ve landed a job interview, that’s half the battle.


You've been informed it's a competency based interview - We'd like to arm you with some helpful advice so you can get ahead of the game! 


A competency interview is a way of questioning that looks at real life examples of how you've demonstrated a particular skill. The best way to prepare for these sorts of interviews is by going through the job description. Focus on the key things they are looking for, then go through your own CV and write down some example experiences of a situation and how you demonstrated that competency. Don't forget to highlight the positive end result, such as, the project was a success, or the client was happy. 




It's also important to remember to talk about 'we' when you're discussing experience working in a team, but also talk about 'I' to ensure you are highlighting your own specific involvement and experience in a situation 


The interviewer may ask these types of questions and remember they are looking for real life examples to show how you have demonstrated a specific skill. Examples can be from a previous work experience, school or even from your personal life, including hobbies, sports and volunteer work. 

The best way to answer these questions is to describe a specific example that demonstrates your ability in that area using the “STAR” technique to structure your response:

S – Situation

T – Task

A – Action

R – Result


Great answers to interview questions are:


  • Relevant
  • Succinct
  • Able to show clearly what you did and how you did it
  • Delivered with an appropriate level of energy and enthusiasm
  • Not “waffly”!


Here are some examples of Competency Based Interview Questions:


  • Describe a time when you altered your own behaviour to fit the situation.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a new working environment.

Client Focus

  • Give an example of how you provided service to a customer/client that went beyond their expectations.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a customer problem.


  • Give an example of a difficult or sensitive situation that required extensive communication.

Problem Solving and Judgment

  • Describe a time when you had to analyse a problem and generate a solution.
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a problem or make a decision that required careful thought. What did you do?

Results Orientation

  • Tell me about a time when you set and achieved a goal.
  • Tell me about a time when you improved the way things were typically done on the job.


  • Tell me about a time when you worked successfully as a member of a team.
  • Describe a situation in which you were a member (not a leader) of a team, and a conflict arose within the team. What did you do?


  • Tell me about a time when you had to lead a group to achieve an objective.

Relationship Building

  • Give me an example of a time when you deliberately attempted to build rapport with a co-worker or customer.


  • Describe the level of stress in your job and what you do to manage it.
  • Describe a time when you were in a high pressure situation.

Remember when coming up with your answers, there should be a balance between selling yourself and being honest about your experience. Honesty is the key because you want to end up in a role that is right for you. If you strategically prepare for your interview, you should be in a good position to give answers that both highlight your skills and acknowledge areas where you might have room to grow. 

The above list of prompts is certainly not complete, but might be helpful to use whilst prepping for this particular sort of interview. Even if you aren't asked any of these questions verbatim, they will help direct your thought process and act as a bank of answers for other similar styled questions. 

Need some further guidance or advice ahead of your interview? Speak to your recruiter at Agenda Creative and Digital Recruitment, we're here to help. 

Agenda’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Writing Your Cover Letter

Tips and Tricks for Writing your Cover Letter


The sheer volume of submissions can make it tough to read all of the applications in detail. So, in an effort to grab the attention of a potential employer or recruiter, here are a couple of tips we’d recommend for your cover letter.


  • Stand Out. 


Find ways to articulate what makes you stand out. Ask yourself whether the sentence you’ve written is a sentence that everyone else would write. If it is, scrap it.


  • Personalise. 


Ideally, when we read your cover letter, we want to walk away feeling like we know you a little bit better. It’s not to say you have to chat to us like a friend, but we like to get the feeling that we got an authentic read on the type of person you are. Remember, as much as you want a job, you also want to be sure that the company is right for you too. If you’ve been authentic (about what you want, what motivates you, what makes you happy), you'll more likely land in a role that's a great fit for you.


  • Brevity. 


Bear in mind that we read A LOT of applications, CV’s, and cover letters. Be concise. Of course if it’s immensely compelling and well written, then we don’t mind if it’s a little longer.


  • Content.  


Understandably, people have a hard time coming up with a compelling hook for their cover letter. While you might take an interesting or humorous tone or slant, your cover letter shouldn't feel gimmicky. Exercise judgment here. Ask yourself a couple of questions: Is there a personal reason why you’re applying? Is there an angle or approach to the job that is interesting? Do you have a reason why you love the company so much, or find that it’s such an ideal fit? Spell out why you want to work there. If it’s a company you love, but a position you’ve never had before, considering telling the story of your transferable skill set.





And here's What Not to Do


None of these are written in stone, but here are a few things to think about:


  • One of the most common mistakes we see on CVs is that people have a tendency to use the same old words. By this we mean words that everyone uses (and overuses) to describe themselves. These words soon start to become meaningless. Think about the words you use and ask yourself if they are actually adding any value to your sentence before including them. Do the words that you are using uniquely describe you?


  • This is funny, but common. Many people include a section called “Additional Skills” on their CV in which they include things like Microsoft Word, Email, or Excel. Take these out. At this point in time, it’s a given that most people have these skills! If you are knowledgeable in a highly specialised software, this is the place to put it, but if it’s something that many candidates know how to use, then it doesn’t belong there.   

  • Keep school details out of it (unless there is something particularly unique or compelling). We’ve seen GCSE’s on CVs for people who have been working for many, many years.  


  • Don’t lie about your skills. We love reading interesting things about candidates, like proficiency in a martial art or fluently speaking multiple languages. However, don't overstate these. For instance, if you are a Web developer, only list the sever-side languages that you are prepared to work in (or disclose varying levels of expertise). If you claim expert-level knowledge and are tested on it but can't answer, it makes us doubt the legitimacy of the rest of your experience.   


  • Don’t weigh down your CV. If there is something that you can say in five words, don’t use twelve.   


  • Don’t blanket send your CV and apply to 9 different roles within one company. Choose one or two positions that are relevant and craft a targeted CV, cover letter, and objective.  


  • This may seem insanely obvious, but proofread your CV and cover letter over and over again. You can’t claim attention to detail if you have errors in either of these. We get so many cover letters that are obvious templates and are addressed to the wrong company! It would be a shame to have a great cover letter and CV, but errors that distract from the content. Some companies take typos more seriously than others.


  • Don't send links to your LinkedIn profile, personal blog, website, Facebook page, etc. UNLESS these links add insight and value to your application. Is your LinkedIn profile fully fleshed out? Exercise good judgement; what would a potential employer want to see?


  • Clean up your social media profiles. Be aware of how you might come up in a search on Google. Know what is visible to the public about you on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Alter your privacy settings if you need to. Better to not be evaluated on anything other than your on-point application, great experience, and polished interview skills. 


Coming up next week in our Guide to Getting Ahead, some helpful tips for interviews....

Agenda’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Writing Your CV



Before you get started….


Many job seekers come to us hoping that we hold the key to making their CV stand out amongst a sea of people with similar experience. We’re sorry to say there isn't a silver bullet. What we can tell you though, is that the best thing you can do for yourself is to have a CV that clearly and succinctly communicates your experience. Finessing this difficult task will set your CV apart from the others right from the starting block. 


When potential employers and recruiters read your CV and cover letter, they’re trying to get a solid understanding of the skills you bring to the table, a sense of aptitude and willingness to learn, and some insight into your personality.


It can be overwhelming to think about strategically summarising what you do everyday, or what you did in a previous role in just a few bullet points and a cover letter. We hope this guide will help to get you started. 


Writing your CV 


Because what you do everyday at your current job or previous job can be overwhelming, we’d recommend starting with your job description. Think about what you want to highlight and bring to the forefront and focus on those things. Ask yourself if they are in line with what the company your applying to sees as beneficial. Recruiters and employers are trying to get to know you through your CV and cover letter. Help to show us your personality, your strengths, your skills, and how we would benefit from hiring you.

  • The Objective Statement.


Before you start, think about the position that you are applying to. You may want to craft a compelling (and succinct!) Objective Statement at the top of your CV. This is particularly effective if your current or past experience isn’t directly related to the job for which you are applying.  


While we’d like to think that all recruiters and employers are reading your whole CV and thinking critically about where you might add value, the reality is, they might be buried in submissions. Don't leave them to their own devices to discern how your skills are transferrable. Tell them! Explain why you want to make the transition and what makes you relevant. Think of the Objective Statement as the lens through which you want the reader to view the rest of your experience. If you are aspiring to make an industry change or a career shift, this is the place to explain WHY you are interested and HOW your past experience makes you a good candidate. 


You also don't HAVE to have an objective statement. If you think you present a compelling case in the cover letter, or your fit in their company is obvious, or you feel you don't have anything to say that is interesting / compelling / adds value, then no problem! Skip it. 

  • Bullet Point Descriptions of your Role and Responsibilities.


Think about what you want to highlight about your current role, and what experience might be the most relevant for the role you are trying to land. We often recommend, for the sake of brainstorming, that you start by casting a wide net - create a master list that has everything you do (or did) in that role. You can pull from your master list and edit your CV based on the role and company to which you are applying. 


  • Do Your Research and Customise Your Submission. 


Once you have a well crafted objective and lists of what you did in each job, tailor them for each submission. That is not to say that you should fabricate or sugar coat the experience that you've had, but you should think strategically about what to highlight. 


Reading a prospective employer's job descriptions, looking at the profiles of their current employees on LinkedIn, and doing your research will help give you clues about the best way to customise your content. What are the types of adjectives they’ve used on their website or in the job description? Work those words into your CV. At the end of the day, you should be spelling out exactly what your experience is and taking out the guesswork for the CV reader.


Formatting Your Resume


We get asked a lot of questions about CV formatting. While this can vary from industry to industry, here are some general rules:


  • The One Page Rule. 


Going over one page for a CV isn’t a real problem. If you have compelling information that you feel is pertinent to the job at hand and need to go over, go for it. But, if you feel like you are trying really hard to extend your CV and fill in the page, then don’t push yourself to get there. The content of the CV is so much more important than the length. 


  • Education. 


Depending on the field you are in, the correct placement for your education might vary.  Rule of thumb: If it’s not directly relevant, we don’t need to know all your universeity activities.


The exception here of course is if you are just out of school and don’t have much job experience, then go ahead and put this first. As you get a more varied body of professional work, move your education to the bottom of your CV.


  • Consistency. 


Another tip is to remain consistent in your tenses. We have no preference, but our inclination is to speak to your current job in the present and your past experience in the past. You can also use bullet point answers, but do keep an eye out for consistency. That is, if you are going to add a period at the end of a bullet point, then add a period at the end of each and every bullet point.


  • Contact Info. 


Add easy contact info at the top of your CV. We should be able to figure out how to contact you very quickly. This is also for your benefit! 


  • File Type. 


Many employers use what they call Applicant Tracking Systems to keep track of their pool of candidates. We can appreciate a beautifully designed PDF CV (as long as the focus is on the content and it's easy to read), but these CV’s aren't searchable in a lot of these systems. If you send a beautifully crafted PDF file, consider also sending a Word Doc too.



In tomorrow’s Guide to Getting Ahead we’ll explore the cover letter and also the What not to do’s on your CV.

Time to Spring Clean your Social Media


Business man



Over 70% of us have a social media profile, resulting in us putting a lot of content out into the world about our lives, perhaps more than we realise or intend to. 


The number of employers using social media to screen candidates has increased 500% over the last decade. Yes you read that right, 500 percent!


CareerBuilder conducted a survey last year and found that 60% of employers use social media channels to screen potential candidates, and of these employers, 44% said they do it to check whether a job seeker is presenting themselves ‘professionally’. 49% of hiring managers who screen candidates said they’ve found information that caused them not to hire a candidate on social media, with provocative or inappropriate photographs, video or information accounting to 46% of cases. 


While the ethics of this are being discussed in HR departments (by law, your potential employer isn’t allowed to find out about your religion, your gender, your sexuality and your age without your permission – and it’s illegal for them to make a hiring decisions based on these factors), employers who do screen the social media accounts of potential recruits argue that these are public platforms, with information candidates have themselves placed in the public domain. 


As a job seeker who uses social media, the idea that you should be careful about what you post and share online, just in case a future or current employer sees it, isn't a new one. We all know that  it’s probably best to avoid posting photos of yourself from an extravagant Saturday night out.


But going beyond the basics, employers are naturally curious to see more of the ‘real you’, which they are more likely to get on social media than from your CV alone. While LinkedIn is often used to cross-check the information you put on your CV, Facebook is checked to gain insights into your personality. If the encroachment this poses on your privacy is making you nervous, you’re not alone. But remember, if you post anything publicly, anybody can legally access it. If you’re not comfortable with potential employers having access to any part of your private life, make sure your privacy settings are up to scratch. This guide takes you through all the steps.


On the other hand, if you're ready to embrace the opportunities to build your personal brand on social media, then it’s time to have a thorough spring clean of ALL your content - Yes from the very beginning - ensuring the basics are in place. This includes:

  • No inappropriate photos or posts
  • No references to excessive alcohol consumption and no references to drug use
  • No bad mouthing previous employers
  • Limiting typos and grammatical errors

After a spring clean, it’s time to start putting positive content out there. Linkedin is a great place to start engaging with brands and companies you’d like to work for. By actively participating on social media, you can join the trending conversations on topics that relate to your chosen industry. This all helps to create a positive impression of you online to potential employers, which is particularly important if you’re wanting to enter or working in the digital industries. 


Moving forwards, rather than viewing social media as a one time deal, think of it as an extension of your professional image that needs regular maintenance and care. Employers are regularly reviewing both candidates and current employees, for various reasons. By taking control of your own digital footprint, you'll be setting yourself up for career success (and not a super awkward Instagram confrontation).

"The Do It All" Designer and how to get ahead

The role of the designer is changing. We are seeing it time and time again here at Agenda Digital & Creative. Companies want the “Do it All’ Designer, the designer who can code. The Unicorn.


It’s such a hot topic that Wired Magazine, recently spoke to John Maeda, Global Head of Computational Design and Inclusion at Automatic Inc, to talk about exactly this - “If you want to survive in design, you better learn to code.”


Speaking recently at South by Southwest, one of the key observations in Maeda’s third annual “Design in Tech Report” is that computational designers remain in demand at technology companies of all sizes and maturity levels. And in the past year, Amazon, Google, and Facebook have collectively grown their design personnel by 65%, with more room for growth. 


As the hiring of designers by companies continues to accelerate, Maeda believes we could see more inclusive hiring practices, for example the hiring of hybrid designers. The designers who can recognise the complexities that exist within tech products, as well as the design challenges that lie within them. It’s the overlap between the more classic design of a traditional graphic designer, and the computational designer, who mostly works in code.


This is something that we as recruiters are seeing regularly in 2017, as Kate Devlin our Client Services Manager mentions, “Clients are wanting candidates to ‘do it all’. For example, Digital Designers, they want them to design as well as code, this saves in bringing in additional resource, whilst up-skilling their workforce.”



Do you want to become a Unicorn? Here's some tips to get ahead.


1. Pick a skill and teach yourself 


There’s a whole plethora of books, blogs and tutorials dedicated to coding and user experience. Nick Freedman and self taught Unicorn, outlines a host of amazing resources.


2. Practice those skills


Sounds simple but without practice, there’s no other way to master your new found skills, than by making stuff! 


3. Deconstruct as many designs as you can and learn from them 


Learn a tool, then find inspiration online. Focus on things that inspire you, it will make the whole experience a lot more enjoyable.

Job rejection and the surprising benefits - yes really



“Rejection feels so INCREDIBLE!” said absolutely no one ever. 

It’s official - rejection sucks. Big time. 

You put your heart and soul into getting noticed but in the end your hard work isn’t noticed and nothing happens. Whether in your personal life, freelance work or career, no one well ever tell you that rejection feels good. 

Somethings just don't work out how you want them too. Perhaps it’s you or just maybe the wrong opportunity. Sometimes the answer is just no and there’s really nothing you can do to change that. 

Emotions take over, you may start to feel unworthy or frustrated. Those negative thoughts that start to swirl around in your head make you believe that you don’t deserve what you worked so hard for. 

Although rejection can leave us feeling hopeless, knowing that there is a positive side to it can give us hope. If we can agree that rejection sucks and is a part of life, we should also agree that there are ways to make rejection benefit us.

Hey, it could be worse - you could have been on that stage receiving your Best picture Oscar only for it to be snatched away. Worst rejection ever?


1. Rejection promotes motivation

You’re not the “right fit” for many companies. Hearing those words can leave you wanting to knock all of the papers straight off the table. But truth be told we just say “thank you for your time" and move on just like mature adults are supposed to. But being rejected hurts, but it doesn’t stop you from trying. Rejection forces us to become a better version of ourselves each and every time.


2. Rejection provides perspective

Is it that you’re being rejected or protected? Maybe that role really wasn’t the right fit for you. Maybe you really dodged a bullet. On the one hand, you weren’t accepted, but on the other hand, the situation can possibly be a blessing in disguise. It’s all in how you choose to view it.


3. Rejection teaches patience

While the no’s pile up, so are the bills and daily responsibilities in life. You have to keep it moving but also be still. Wait, what? Yes. Keep pushing forward with the knowledge that what you truly desire is waiting for you at the right time. Many of the greats were not overnight success stories. Walt Disney, JK Rowling, Steve Jobs, Oprah – all notable and successful celebrities who experienced many rejections. So keep working hard. Your time will come. Stop working yourself into a worry wart. Good things come to those who wait.


4. Rejection leads to growth

Imagine putting your all into an application process. You were thorough and detailed. You studied the history of the company. You were energetic and succinct in the interview. Ideally, you were the perfect candidate but you still weren’t chosen. That sucks. BUT, you learned. You learned how to be a better researcher and interviewer. These are skills that you can use moving forward.


5. Rejection opens the door for another chance

One door closing does not mean doors will never open again. As the saying goes, “One door closes, another door opens.” There is always another opportunity just waiting for you. You can’t let the rejections from life weigh you down. You have to keep trying, keep believing and keep growing. Rejection ultimately gives us the strength to continue on the journey of life. It reminds us that there is still more work to do. Rejection is a positive thing and once we learn to wholeheartedly embrace it, we will find that there are no limits to what we can accomplish.


Still looking for your yes job? Register with us today and let us help you find it. 

CV Myths Answered


What you include on a CV seems to be a bit of a mystery to a lot of people; they either include every personal detail about themselves or so little information you’d think they were part of the witness projection program.

The truth is a good resume lies somewhere in between, but it’s not always easy to know where to draw the line. Try this little true-or-false resume quiz to see if your CV skills are respectable and up-to-date.

True or False?Creativity

1.A CV is about your past jobs

2.The most important thing on a resume is your objective

3.Never list unpaid work or work gaps

4.Combine short term jobs into one line item

5.Go back only 10 to 15 years

6.Listing hobbies on your CV is a good idea

7.A decorative CV makes you stand out


Now let’s see how you did!

1. A CV is about your past jobs

False. Recruiters don’t really care what you did. They want to know how effective you were at doing it. Just saying you were the “HR Manager; duties included maintaining the employee handbook…” doesn’t tell us if you were good at your job or not. However, if you were to say, “HR Manager; Converted the employee handbook to an online, interactive document so that employees always had access to the latest information…” well, now we’re learning more about what you’re capable of.

3. The one of the most important things on your CV is your objective

True. An objective shows your interviewer that you have a sense of direction. It indicates you’ve put some thought into your future and that you have career goals and ambition. Employers like to hire people who know what they want out of a job, because these are the people who come up with the big, creative ideas to get there.

4. Never list unpaid work or work gaps

False. List it all; volunteer work, internships, and unpaid work. Many employers appreciate volunteer achievements, especially if they relate to the company's industry or to the job functions. If you have a work gap, the employer will want to know what you were doing during this time.

5. Combine short term jobs into one line item

True. Individually listing every little, short-term job you ever had clutters up your CV. For example, if you were a self-employed graphic designer for three years, and in that time you had 10 clients, then just say, “2001-2004: Graphic Designer (self-employed). Client list and references available upon request.” But then have that list and those references on hand in case your interviewer asks for them.

6. Go back only 10 to 15 years

True. If you left school 30 years ago, it’s really not necessary to list every single job you’ve ever had. It’s likely that the first job you had since leaving school probably isn’t relevant to the current position you’re applying to 30 years into your career. Plus, going back only 15 years allows you to be vague about your age, which legally an interviewer can’t ask you about, anyway. Just list your history as Recent Work Experience.

7. Listing hobbies on your resume is a good idea

True and False (trick question). If you have a hobby that’s pertinent to the job you’re applying for, then yes, include it. For example, if you’re applying as an art director, and you dabble in photography, then that might help get you hired. However, we don’t care if you’re into scrapbooking, Moroccan cooking, or origami napkin folding.

8. A decorative CV makes you stand out

False. It looks pretentious, and black ink on coloured paper can sometimes be hard to read. The employer is more interested in what’s actually on the CV. It’s best to stick to white paper, using a CV format appropriate to the job you’re applying for.

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