The Best Answers to the Most Difficult Interview Questions
Interviewing for a job position can be an anxiety-inducing experience, especially when the interviewer asks tough questions. So, as an interviewee, it’s important to come up with a strategy for answering those difficult interview questions in a way that highlights your qualifications and professional experiences. In this article, we will provide tips for answering some of the most common and challenging interview questions, so that you can feel more confident as a candidate! Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a recent grad, the tips below will help you make a positive impression on prospective employers. Keep reading!
In this post:
- Quick Tips for Virtual Interviews
- Quick Tips for In-Person Interviews
- 10 Most Difficult Interview Questions with Sample Answers
When you’re preparing for an important interview, you can implement the following tips to help stay calm and in control during the interview process.
Quick Tips for Virtual Interviews
Interviewing virtually? Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when meeting screen-to-screen with your future boss.
- Test your tech. Ensure your computer, tablet, phone, or whatever device you’ll connect to Zoom on, has a stable internet connection. Check your audio equipment as well. And if time permits, do a test run with a friend or family member.
- Have a backup plan. If your tech doesn’t work when you need to sign on for your interview, it helps to have a backup plan. Our advice is to keep another electronic device handy that has access to the virtual meeting software you need.
- Dress to impress. Remote interviews should be taken just as seriously. So, remember to dress professionally and avoid distracting or inappropriate attire.
- Prepare your environment. Reserve time in a quiet, well-lit space that allows you to focus on your interview. This can be your home office, a coworking space, or a cafe if you’re daring enough to take an interview in public.
- Show your enthusiasm. When your prospective employer is talking, lean in and listen actively. Show that you are engaged, attentive, and enthusiastic about the position.
Quick Tips for In-Person Interviews
Interviewing in person is a traditional yet effective way to find a match for a job position. So, here are a few tips to get you through your next interview.
- Be punctual. Show that you’re respectful of the interviewer’s time and that you take the role seriously by showing up on time. This simple act can set the tone for a good interview.
- Prepare a list of questions. Along with your resume, it’s important to bring a list of thoughtful questions to ask your prospective employer. This will show your enthusiasm and help you determine if you’re a good fit for the job.
- Be engaged. Whether interviewing online or in person, it’s important to focus on your interview and to exude enthusiasm. After all, the employer is likely looking for someone who wants to excel in the role. So, show that you are that person!
- Maintain eye contact. Do your best to connect with your future boss or colleague during the interview process. One way to show you’re actively listening and eager to learn more about the role is to make eye contact. If this is naturally a struggle for you, try practicing in the mirror beforehand.
- Prepare for common questions. Do your homework by researching the company and preparing common questions that may be asked. Doing this will help you hone more confidence, give more honest answers, and present yourself in the best light.
10 Most Difficult Interview Questions with Sample Answers
If you’ve been looking for specific examples of how to handle tough interview questions, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to review the most difficult interview questions with sample answers.
1. What are your greatest weaknesses?
This is one of the most daunting and one of the most common interview questions that may come up. So, it helps to have an honest yet strategic response to answer this question. We recommend that you avoid listing all of your weaknesses. Instead, try focusing on areas of improvement that you’re actively working on.
Sample Answer: “I used to have a hard time managing my time when faced with competing deadlines. However, I’ve been working on learning new ways to manage my time effectively. These days, I try to prioritize my tasks and divide my time effectively so that deadlines are never missed.”
2. Why did you choose to leave your previous job?
This is a relatively sensitive question so take a moment to think about your response or practice your answer before the interview begins. Remember, it’s important to maintain positivity throughout your interview instead of focusing on the negative reasons that motivated you to look for a new position.
Sample Answer: “I left my last job because I was not being challenged enough and I did not see myself reaching my career goals in my position there. I am looking for new opportunities to hone professional skills and develop my career further.”
3. Why are you interested in a position with this company?
Variants of this question include “why do you want to work here?” and “what attracted you to this role?”. But no matter how it’s asked, the employer is looking for the same thing – a way to gauge how enthusiastic you are about the role and how much you’ve researched the company.
Sample answer: “I was impressed by the organization’s commitment to sustainable and ethical business practices. I believe my skills in product development and graphic design would be a great asset to the existing team here.”
4. Can we discuss a time when you faced conflict in the office and how you navigated that situation?
The best thing to do when asked a tough interview question like this one is to remain honest. Think about a time when you and a coworker weren’t on the same page and how you navigated that. Remember, this question is designed to test your problem-solving skills and your ability to handle stressful situations.
Sample answer: “During the early days of my career, I found myself having communication issues with my direct superior. For a moment, it made my workplace rather stressful. However, after taking a moment to reflect on [insert specific scenario], and setting up a meeting to discuss the incident with my supervisors, I was able to see things from their perspective and move forward in my role with confidence.”
5. What are your salary expectations for this position?
This can be one of the toughest questions for candidates to answer, as many folks fear giving a number that is too low for their skills and qualifications or too high for the employer’s budget. So, we recommend that you avoid giving a specific number. Instead, try to focus the discussion on the compensation package and your willingness to negotiate.
Sample answer: “I’ve been reviewing the industry standard salary range for this position. However, I would love to hear what’s in the company’s budget for this role and what other benefits I should take into consideration as I reflect on the job position.”
6. Let’s discuss a time when you had to resolve a conflict with a coworker. How did you handle that situation?
As always, remember to give specific yet concise details about a scenario and answer honestly. When asking this question, employers are trying to gauge your ability to navigate disagreements with professionalism.
Sample answer: “At a previous employer, I was scheduled to work with an employee who was not carrying their weight during our busiest season. They were excessively late, unfocused, and rude in the workplace. This started to impact my work-life balance and my ability to take pride in the position. So, I scheduled a meeting with that coworker. Once I heard their perspective and what they were going through, I was able to empathize with them and help them prioritize their tasks. In the following weeks, they began carrying a heavier workload and contributing more to the team.”
7. What do you know about our company culture and how do you think you’ll fit into it?
This can be a difficult interview question but one that opens up the floor to show off the research you’ve done on the company. So, be sure to mention what you know about the organization, its culture, mission, and value – as well as how you align with those.
Sample answer: “I’ve followed this organization for a number of years. I’ve always been impressed by your philanthropic efforts and how you incorporate sustainability into your products. I believe my background in product development and graphic design would be an asset on a team known for creating innovative solutions.”
8. What are your long-term goals? Do you see yourself at this company for a long time?
This challenging question presents the opportunity to show your ambition and talk about your desired career trajectory. So, be specific about your career aspirations and how you plan to achieve them.
Sample answer: “My long-term career goals are to become a senior product developer at an organization that aligns with my personal values and aids in my professional development. I plan to achieve this by interviewing for roles at organizations such as this and by developing my skills through online courses and mentorship”
9. How do you handle stress when faced with ethical decisions?
Sometimes employers need to get a better understanding of your ethical principles, morals, and decision-making skills. So, provide an example of an ethical dilemma and how you handled it.
Sample answer: “I once faced a difficult situation when I had to cut corners to meet a tight deadline. However, I was conflicted because I know it would compromise the quality of the creative project I was working on. So, I decided to discuss the issue with my teammates and work with them to find a solution to meet the deadline without sacrificing quality.”
10. What is the most important challenge our industry faces? How can we begin to address it?
This question is an opportunity to express empathy and address a concern you may have about your industry. So, provide an example of a specific challenge and how you would address it if you could.
Sample answer: “This industry struggles with a lack of accessibility – particularly when it comes to addressing the needs of disabled professionals. To address this, I would propose trying to create an inclusive work environment that takes physical and cognitive disabilities into consideration and provides employees with adequate tools to do their jobs effectively.”
When faced with difficult interview questions, it’s important to put your best foot forward, answer the questions authentically, and express your personality. After all, you want the employer to leave with a clear understanding of what you bring to the table and how you are different from the other candidates who are after this position.