Tough Interview Questions & Answers

During a job interview, it’s likely that besides the common interview questions, you will be asked a couple of tough ones too. As you prepare for your upcoming job interview, it’s important that you’re ready to answer any questions that come your way. This means that you should be ready to answer basic interview questions but also anticipating on answering questions that are considered more challenging.

Tough interview questions come in different forms. Some questions can be considered ‘trick questions’ while others are used to put you on the spot to assess how you respond in an unforeseen circumstance. Interviewers are, of course, interested in your answer, but the main goal is to assess your thought process and see how you react under pressure.

Whatever the reason is for interviewers to ask tough interview questions, the most important thing for you is to be prepared for any curveballs coming your way during the interview.

Everyone is somewhat nervous when they have a job interview. A healthy dose of nerves is actually good, and accepting this fact is the first step to doing much better in your interview. Your focus as an applicant should be on being upbeat and staying positive. Preparation is the second step that will help you land your dream job. Preparing and rehearsing answers to questions you expect is essential.

In this article, we discuss what interview questions are considered tough and how you can answer them. Also, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.

Why Interviewers Use Tough Interview Questions

As with other common job interview questions, tough interview questions are used to assess who you are and if you’re a good fit for the company. During a job interview, interviewers try to get more important information about you to make the best hiring decision.

You can expect different kinds of interview questions, which we will touch on more later in this article. For example, questions about your personality, work behavior in the past, and how you would handle hypothetical situations.

Interviewers also ask tough interview questions to analyze your thought process and how you process information. For example, some companies – especially in the consulting business – ask unexpected and abstract interview questions such as ‘How many tennis balls fit into an airplane?‘. Interviewers are not looking for a specific answer in response to these types of questions. They are more interested in assessing if you can think quickly and logically and whether or not you can explain how you came to your answer.

Another reason for interviewers to ask tough interview questions is to assess how comfortable you are working with and thinking through challenging tasks. Furthermore, they want to figure out how experienced you are in handling difficult situations when you’re put on the spot. These questions are more commonly asked during an interview for roles such as consultants, accountants, software developers, or any other positions that require strong problem-solving skills.

Interviewers are basically trying to figure out:

  • Can you do the job?
  • Will you do the job?
  • Do you fit into the organization and company culture?

What Kind Of Tough Interview Questions Can You Expect

Interviewers can use different kinds of interview questions in a job interview. The goal of asking tough interview questions is to see how you react when you’re put on the spot. However, it’s important to realize that the interviewer is not out to get you when asking tough interview questions. Hiring managers are interested in your answers, and they look for somebody they feel comfortable hiring.

During a job interview, the hiring manager wants to discuss several things. Think of your:

Difficult or unexpected questions are used by hiring managers to answer questions such as:

Below we discuss the most common types of interview questions and what they entail.

Behavioral interview questions

Behavioral interview questions require you to provide the interviewer with an example situation that you experienced in professional work environments. These strategic interview questions focus on work situations that you experienced in the past and how you responded to them. The way you respond to these questions tells the interviewer more about your work methods and ethics.

Examples of tough behavioral interview questions

  1. Tell me about a time you made a mistake or when you failed.
  2. Describe a time you had to handle a stressful situation.
  3. Tell me about a time you had difficulty working with a manager.
  4. Describe a time you had to overcome an obstacle in your work?
  5. How do you handle a difficult customer?
  6. Tell me about a time a manager hindered your performance.

Learn more about behavioral interview questions.

Situational interview questions

Situational interview questions are similar in nature to behavioral interview questions. Behavioral interview questions also require you to discuss work performances that the interviewers use to gauge your future job success.

The difference between them is that behavioral questions regard how you handled situations in the past. Scenario-based questions require you to discuss hypothetical questions. These questions often start with ‘how would you handle a situation in which..?

Examples of tough situational interview questions

  1. What actions do you take when a client contacts you with a complaint about your service?
  2. How do you go about making important decisions? What’s usually your strategy?
  3. Say you face a complex problem at work, what steps do you take to identify and resolve it?

Learn more about situational interview questions.

Personal interview questions

Personal interview questions are an essential part of any job interview. Hiring managers want to get more insight into your personality traits and required skills for the position.

Besides being interested in your education and work experience, interviewers want to know more about your motivation, attitude towards work, career goals, and personality traits. The main goal of personal job interview questions is to get an understanding of who you are, what you like, and if all of that fits into the organization and position you’re interviewing for.

Examples of tough personal interview questions

    1. Tell me about your strengths?
    2. What is your greatest weakness?
    3. Tell me about yourself
    4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
    5. What are your career goals, and how do you plan to achieve them?
    6. How do you handle criticism?
    7. What is your ideal company culture?
    8. Why do you want to work here?
    9. What motivates you?
    10. Why should we hire you?

Learn more about personal interview questions.

How To Find Out Which Tough Questions You Can Expect

The best way to prepare for an interview is to practice answering questions that you expect. But how do you know what questions you are most likely to get? The interviewer could ask you anything. So, where do you begin and how do you start practicing?

There are a couple of important points to take into account when you want to make an educated guess about the questions you can expect. Below we discuss a couple of steps to kick off your interview preparation. Also, check our job interview checklist here and read more about frequently asked interview questions.

  1. Research the company

Your first step to finding out which interview questions you are most likely to get is researching the company. Make sure you understand the company, its culture, and its values. For example, figure out:

  • The company culture and what the company values in their employees.
  • What kind of products or services the company sells.
  • Who are the key players in the organization?
  • Who you’re interviewing with and their roles within the team.
  • The latest news about the company. Read blogs or any other media publications to get up to date.
  • What the company’s strengths are and who are their main competitors in the market.
  • If you know anyone in your network who’s working at or worked at the company, who can give you inside information.
  • How you will be evaluated in the company. This information is sometimes available on Glassdoor.com.

Not only will the steps above help you figure out what kind of company you’re dealing with it, but it will also help you prepare questions to ask the interviewer back. If you come across important information that you have questions about, write this down during your interview preparation. Use it in your interview preparation and memorize it so that if the interviewer brings the topic up during the interview, you can play into it and ask smart questions.

Interviews are supposed to be a two-way street, and asking questions back is an essential part of a successful job interview.

Also, look for websites such as Megainterview.com to find out general commonly asked job interview questions.

  1. Thoroughly analyze the job description

After you research the company and found out what the company values and how you will be evaluated, it’s time to focus on the position you’re applying for. Highlight and mark essential information about the position, such as the required skills, abilities, and experience. Furthermore, focus on reviewing job responsibilities. It’s essential for you to understand what daily tasks of the position are and the duties you will have within the team and company.

Based on your analysis, you can think of questions that challenge the required skills, responsibilities, and experience you have highlighted. Here you can find more information about frequently asked interview questions per category. In almost any interview, behavioral questions are used.

For example, expect at least a couple of questions like ‘Tell me about your experience with [insert required skill, ability or experience]‘ or ‘Describe a time when you demonstrated [insert required qualification].’

Think about what the company expects from you if you get hired. Also, think about how they will evaluate your expertise and performance. For instance, if you apply for a software development position, you can be sure that you will get asked some in-depth questions about your coding expertise.

It’s also possible that the interviewer will use situational interview questions. These questions are hypothetical in nature and are used to uncover your thinking process but also your creative thinking skills. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing position, the interviewer could ask you, ‘What is usually your plan of action to identify which marketing strategy fits a client?

As you can see, a bit of research goes a long way if you want to figure out what kinds of questions you can expect during your interview.

  1. Review your resume

During interviews, it’s likely that the hiring manager will at least ask you some questions about the documents you provided, such as your resume or cover letter. Interviewers often ask you questions specifically related to your background, education, and work experience.

Also, if you have a gap in your resume or if you want to change careers, you should focus on questions about why this happened or why you want to change careers. Preparation is key, and making sure you can answer these kinds of questions without hesitating will come across confident.

Also, think about the position that the interviewer is in. What would you ask if you were the interviewer based on your resume and cover letter? Questions such as ‘Tell me about yourself‘ or ‘Could you walk me through your resume?‘ are pretty much asked in every interview. You can add these to your list of questions you should prepare for, just like anything else that possibly stands out about your previous work experience.

  1. Prepare & Practice tough interview questions

Once you get a better idea of what questions you can expect during your interview, it’s time to prepare and practice answers to those questions. Here you can find more information on answering:

Based on the competencies, skills, and experience required for the position, you can start preparing your answers. A lot of companies are looking for similar skills such as teamwork, leadership, management, problem-solving, adaptability, creative thinking, time-management, etc. Rank the skills on importance in relation to the requirements of the job that you are interviewing for.

For behavioral questions, based on your ranking, you can start thinking about past work experiences in which you successfully demonstrated the required skills. The STAR interview technique is the most efficient way to structure your answers.

Give the interviewer an answer in the form of a ‘story’ and structure this story logically. Use the STAR interview technique to do this. STAR is an acronym that stands for a situation (S), your task (T) in that situation, the actions (A) you took, and what results (R) you got based on your actions. These are the basic steps you take in your walkthrough.

  1. Prepare questions to ask the interviewer

Always prepare questions to ask the interviewer during your job interview. Interviews are supposed to be a two-way street. This means that a hiring manager wants to ask you questions to get to know you and learn about your skills. However, it also means that you should use the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions about the position, management, and the company itself to figure out if this is the right position for you.

Furthermore, if you do not prepare questions to ask the interviewer, there’s a chance that the interviewer might think that you’re not genuinely interested or that you’re not well-prepared.

Learn more about smart questions to ask the interviewer.

Tips To Answer Tough Interview Questions

As stated earlier, the interviewer is not out to get you when he or she asks you a tough interview question. They are genuinely interested in your thought process and want to assess how you go about handling challenges.

  1. Take your time

Don’t take too long, but it’s okay to start your answer with ‘That’s a tough question, let me think for a moment.’ That way, you can catch your breath and think about your answer for a brief moment. No harm is done if you do this once or two times in a job interview.

Therefore, don’t be afraid to think for a second before you answer a tough interview question. This way, you avoid that you start rambling or rushing through your answers.

  1. Walk the interviewer through your thought process

For most specific tough questions, the interviewer wants you to walk them through your thought process. This means that you should be able to explain how you draw conclusions or how you’ve come to a solution.

For example, if the interviewer asks you a tough situational question such as ‘What is usually your strategy if you have to make an important decision?‘ they want to know more about it and how you systematically approach important decisions. It’s not about making a specific decision; it’s about demonstrating that you have a process you follow in order to come to a sound decision.

Learn more about answering questions that require you to explain your thought process.

  1. Know your facts

If the interviewer asks you a tough question about your skills, education, or work experience, it’s essential that you know what you’re talking about. It may sound like a no-brainer, but there are candidates who cannot remember everywhere they worked or for how long when they are put on the spot.

In your interview preparation, ensure that you incorporate some time to go over your resume and cover letter. It’s certain that you will get asked some questions about the documents you have provided, so make sure you can discuss them confidently. Also, bring extra copies to your interview.

  1. Try to stay calm

Interviews, in general, can be nerve-wracking. Try to stay calm during the interview, and don’t rush through your answers. A strong preparation will help you go to the interview more confidently. However, you can still be caught off guard during an interview. When this happens, use the tactic discussed in the first step.

  1. Practice makes perfect!

The most efficient way to prepare is to make a list of common interview questions and specific questions you expect based on your research. Next, answer each question out loud. The first time this might seem a bit awkward, but this is also what the interviewer will hear from you.

You can also write your answers down and finetune them as you practice them out loud. The most important part is that you include the required information in a short and concise answer.

Another option is to record your answers via a webcam or smartphone. This way, you can also analyze your non-verbal communication.

Examples Of Tough Interview Questions And Best Answers

Below we discuss a couple of tough interview questions. However, remember that these tough interview questions and their answers are general examples. Make sure that you figure out which questions you are most likely to get and tailor your answers to the specific position and company where you’re applying for a position.

  1. Tell me about a time you faced a challenging situation. How did you overcome it?

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

Basically, the interviewer wants to get a better insight into your ability to manage projects and complex situations. Furthermore, they want to know more about your approach and decision-making skills in stressful or challenging situations.

Another reason for asking this question is to analyze how the company can benefit from your skills and abilities.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Your answer should include the situation you were in, the tasks you had in that situation, the actions you took, and the results you got. In short, this is called the STAR method of structuring your answer. The interviewer wants answers to questions such as:

  • What is your approach to dealing with challenges?
  • How do your skills help you successfully finish projects?
  • What is your work ethic like?
  • How do you handle stress?

Example answer to ‘Tell me about a time you faced a challenging situation. How did you overcome it?’

In my previous job at a marketing firm, I have worked on several challenging projects. One time, when I just started at the company, I was asked to work with a small team on a marketing pitch deck for a new client. We got the project because of our reputation and ability to take on the project on short notice.

It was a great opportunity for us to show what we were capable of doing in a short amount of time. Then, two weeks before the pitch deck presentation, the client requested us to change the entire plan. It turned out that they were unhappy with our first concept and stated that it differed too much from the initial idea that they had in mind.

Answer to ‘How did you overcome it?’

We organized a brainstorm meeting with the team to figure out what exactly went wrong, at which point in the development of the pitch deck. After several hours we concluded that some parts of the project were developed based on assumptions without clearly asking the client for approval before moving on. I asked if I could take the lead on redeveloping the pitch deck. For me, this was a challenge, as well as a great opportunity.

It was a challenge because I had never created a pitch deck working at this company, and we had a short amount of time. Still, it was a great opportunity because I had experience with creating these decks in several of my prior jobs, so it was a great chance to demonstrate my skills. I overcame the challenge by getting the goals clear of what the client exactly wanted, analyzing their feedback, and setting up small milestones to track progress in the two weeks we had left.

We kept in touch with the client throughout the redevelopment process of the pitch deck and finished and submitted it one day before the deadline. Ultimately the client was very happy with our work, and we are still working with them today.

Bonus: Include what you learned from dealing with this challenging situation

For me, the most important learning from this project is that it’s important to get the goals clear before a project starts. Furthermore, my experience taught me that the best way to work on challenging projects is to create milestones to track progress. Now, at the start of a new project, I focus on the most difficult parts and challenges of the project so that I know as soon as possible if there are any issues or attention areas. If this is the case, I have more than enough time to work on this before any deadlines. A detailed plan to work on a project is essential to finish it successfully.’

  1. What is your greatest weakness?

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

The way you answer questions about a flaw or weakness is very telling about you as a person. The main reason for asking about your weaknesses is to assess your self-awareness and if you’re honest. Furthermore, the interviewer is looking for you to demonstrate that you’re aware of your weaknesses and how you’re currently working on improving yourself as a professional.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Interviewers know that everybody has some sort of weakness. The perfect candidate won’t deny their weaknesses and can discuss their development points. Furthermore, an ideal candidate does not have a weakness that could interfere with the duties required for the position.

Tip: Avoid trying too hard to turn a negative into a positive such as that you work too hard, or that you’re too much of a perfectionist. Also, never say that you don’t have any weaknesses. Furthermore, do not reveal a weakness that could hurt your chances of landing the job.

Example answer to ‘What is your greatest weakness?

One weakness that I have is that I get really nervous when I have to speak in front of a group of people. One of my short term goals that I’m actively working on is improving my communication skills. In the longer run, this allows me to progress into a role where I can use these skills.

I’m taking extra communication classes outside of work while I also volunteered to assist my manager in coordinating our team projects. I feel working as an assistant will give me a closer look at all the tasks and responsibilities of a manager. Furthermore, it will help me develop into a team-lead role in the future whenever the opportunity comes within the organization.’

  1. How do you handle stress? Can you give me an example?

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

The ability to handle stress and stay calm under pressure is essential in a lot of jobs. If a job requires this, the interviewers want to make sure that a candidate is able to take on that environment. Hiring managers want to know if you react to stressful situations in a constructive way rather than a destructive one.

Employees who get motivation out of a healthy dose of stress and use those situations to their advantage to be productive and deliver quality work is what employers look for

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Besides your view on stressful situations, the interviewer actually expects from you to provide an example of a time you handled a stressful situation successfully. Make sure you five a relevant but concise and to the point answer.

Learn more about stress management interview questions.

Example answer to ‘How do you handle stress? Can you give me an example?’

‘I think a healthy dose of stress makes me more focused. For example, when I work on multiple projects at the same time, it helps me to stay productive and motivated to keep going. My prioritization and time management skills help me balance work in order to meet deadlines. This is also what keeps me from getting stressed out.

For example, in my previous position, I was asked to run a project team to develop a sales pitch to persuade a client to use our products. This was a high-pressure situation because there was a three year and multi-million dollar contract on the line. However, we only had five days to develop and present our pitch.

For the organization as well as for me personally, this was an important deal. For me, failure was not an option because it was a unique opportunity.

I assembled a team of the most experienced colleagues. Together with the team, the goals and milestones were determined for each day. After that, I delegated tasks based on the knowledge and experience levels of each team member.

I distributed the responsibilities according to experience and knowledge levels, so everyone on the team was aware of his or her responsibilities. Furthermore, everybody was aware of the importance of this deal. Even though the project required the maximum of everybody on the team, we delivered everything on time.

The client told us that he was impressed by our effort within the time constraint. We landed the deal, which was a great achievement for everybody on the team. It was an effort that could not have been made without the people on it.’

  1. What are your short term career goals?

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

Your career goals are brought up during job interviews because the interviewer wants to find out a couple of things. First, they want to know if you plan on staying at the company. Interviewers want to find out how likely you are to leave if you get another opportunity.

Second, it shows if you have a plan in your career and how you plan on developing yourself. Furthermore, your answer gives them an understanding of if your professional goals and expectations of the position match what they can offer you.

Learn more about career goal interview questions.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

The interviewer wants to know more about your career goals. If the company decides to hire you, they want to create a career path based on what motivates you. Therefore, it’s important that you are able to demonstrate your goals as they will be used as a starting point for learning and development processes.

Example answer to ‘What are your short-term career goals?’

‘My short-term goals are fairly simple. I want to further develop and use my communication and project management skills in this job. I’m focused on gaining as much experience as I can over the next years to eventually grow into a position that will allow me to continue to use these skills while also managing my own team. I want to achieve these goals by working on different projects and different teams.

To be able to manage a team effectively, communication is key, and I look forward to taking on small leadership roles, eventually working my way up. This opportunity is the right one for me since it’s the next step in my career that allows me to continue to grow as a professional. Furthermore, one of my key motivators is the ability to work with different coworkers from different departments, so this is especially exciting about this opportunity for me.’

  1. How do you handle criticism?

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

For employers, the best way to predict your future job performance is by analyzing your behavior in past work situations similar to the ones that you will encounter in the role that you’re applying for. Of course, the interviewer knows that everyone has received some sort of criticism in their career.

This is also the reason that they are not just interested in what criticism you received, but more in how you actually handled that specific criticism and what you did with it.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Focus on showing that you’re self-aware and honest in terms of answering interview questions. The interviewer knows what everyone has made a mistake, has failed, or has received criticism in their careers. Avoid discussing criticism or failures that were so drastic that it had a huge impact on your team or the company.

Use an example in which you received (constructive) criticism that you learned from and helped develop yourself as a professional. There’s a reason why interviewers ask you about the criticism you have received. Show that you are that person who can take criticism, learn from it, develop yourself, and bounce back.

Example answer to ‘How do you handle criticism?’

‘Like everyone else, I have received constructive input from my managers that really helped me improve myself as a professional. For instance, I worked on a project for several weeks that turned out to need some revision before it could be submitted because the requirements were not fully met.

My manager sat down with me and walked me through the plan of action that was made before the project kick-off. After listening carefully to the pointers he gave me, it became clear to me what changes I could make to improve the quality of the final product.

I’m eager to learn and listen, especially to people who have already been in my position. Feedback, in general, helps me become a better professional. Different views, perspectives, and experiences help me improve my career and skill set.’

  1. Why are you looking for a new job?

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

There are a couple of reasons why interviewers want to know what interests you about the position. The main goal is assessing if you did your homework and if you understand what the job entails. Furthermore, they want to know how the job fits into your career goals and what you plan to achieve within the position.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Interviewers look for candidates who are sure about their decisions. These are persons who know what they want to achieve in their career, and how the position they applied for helps them achieve those goals. Therefore, make sure you provide the interviewer with an answer that demonstrates that you care about your career and that you have put thought into your career path.

Your answer needs to include something specific that you’re looking for in a new position. Interviewers want you to highlight aspects of their job opening and why you want to work for them.

Example answer to ‘Why are you looking for a new job?’

‘I’ve been working as a senior marketer and team manager for four years now, but I’ve come to a point where I’m ready to take on more leadership responsibility. When I came across this position and read the job description, I noticed the emphasis on leadership and marketing project management skills. As soon as I read the description, I felt like this is a great fit for me.

I’m eager to combine my marketing experience with my developed team management skills, and this position perfectly aligns with my career goals. The opportunity would allow me to train my own team, which is a challenge I’m very excited about. Could you please tell me more about what you’re looking for in your ideal candidate for this position?’

  1. Tell me about a time you failed. How did you handle it?

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

The interviewer wants to get an in-depth insight into your character and personality. This means that he or she will ask you questions that will show you react when you encounter challenging situations.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

you need to be able to discuss your failures even though it’s a sensitive subject. By preparing your answer, you can actually use this question as an opportunity to steer it into a positive direction. By finding strength in your failed situation, you can impress the interviewer. Being able to admit that you failed in the past is a sign of confidence and shows that you are committed to the task at hand.

Avoiding this question will or not answering is not an option. If you can demonstrate the interviewer that you were able to find strength and courage even though you were disappointed due to failure, this will show that you have the right character and indicate how you will behave if you would encounter such a situation again in the future.

Example answer to ‘Tell me about a time you failed. How did you handle it?’

‘During my summer internship at a local bank, I was working as a data analyst. I worked on a project that involved processing large amounts of data, and I was asked if I could help to structure this data and get it all in a new system that was implemented recently. I did not have any experience with the new software system, and due to time constraints, I did not take the take to fully get acquainted with it.

On the first day that I worked with this new program, I accidentally deleted half of the data. I notified my team leader that put me in contact with our software implementation team. I also took immediate responsibility by figuring out a way to undo the caused damage. It was a very stressful moment for me, but I was able to get the deleted data back in cooperation with the software implementation team. The project worked out fine, and all deadlines were met, but it was a stressful situation to be in, especially since I was determined to make the best impression possible in that team. I learned that when I encounter stressful situations such as learning to work with new software within a short time frame, I should seek advice from more experienced co-workers upfront on the best way to approach a project.’

  1. Why do you want to work for this company?

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

This is a very important question for interviewers. Your answer tells them whether or not you take the interview seriously and if you did research before you applied for the job. Interviewers are not looking for someone who did not put any thought into why they would want to work for their company. Therefore, hiring managers are very careful and selective in who they will let go through to the next interview round.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Interviewers are specifically looking for you to explain why you applied to the position and why you want to work for their company. It’s therefore essential that you do your research prior to your interview.

Also, in your answer, mention specific facts that demonstrate that you understand their business and know their organization, products, and/or services. To substantiate these facts, you can mention specific information that you found on their social media accounts, in the news, or on their company website.

Example answer to ‘Why do you want to work for this company?’

‘ I’m really impressed by the products and services your company has been able to push in such a competitive market. Furthermore, the top-quality customer service provided to make your products available to everybody who wants to use it is something that I always admired. I know that your company sets high targets for employees, and I’m really excited about the opportunity to be a part of a team that is not afraid to take calculated risks to push into new markets.

I have several years of experience working with tight deadlines and fast-paced work environments. Furthermore, I believe my time management abilities and team working skills can make me a valuable addition to your team. Also, I read in recent news that you are looking to expand your target markets into providing services for financial institutions as well. Is that correct? Could you please tell me more about that?’

  1. What challenges are you looking for in a new position?

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

Hiring managers ask this question to assess whether or not you’re the best fit for the position. For example, if your answer does not match the requirements for the position you’re interviewing for, you will probably not advance to the next interview rounds.

When hiring new personnel, employers always look for whether or not you’ll be a good long-term addition to the company. They want to know if you are planning to stay and grow with their organization or if your career goals are likely to take you to another employer within a few years.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

The interviewer wants to hear if and why your career goals are a great match for the company. Furthermore, they want to hear from you about how your skills, experience, and abilities make you the right candidate for the position that you applied for.

Example answer to ‘What challenges are you looking for in a new position?’

‘Over the past four years, I’ve developed several essential skills to be successful as an online marketer in the digital industry – including project management skills, communication, customer service, programming, and web design.

When I came across your job opening, I immediately saw that this opportunity would be a great fit for me. As a senior marketer at your company, I would be able to not only apply my skills and experience but also develop them further to become an expert in the field of marketing.

I’m confident that I have the required skills to successfully perform the job. Furthermore, I believe that this position provides the challenge that I’m looking for in taking the next step in my career.’

  1. How do you deal with conflicts in the workplace?

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

During work, there are going to be different opinions because people are not going to get along all the time. However, most jobs require you to get along with different types of peoples and personalities.

To succeed in these situations, you must be able to handle conflicts as a professional. This is also the reason why interviewers are interested in how you approach such situations. These skills are especially important in certain jobs, such as customer service, project management, and law.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

Hiring managers want to know how you approach conflicts in the workplace. They want questions answered, such as:

  • Are you a person that tries to avoid conflicts at all costs?
  • Or are you a person who pretends there is no conflict and just ignores the situation?
  • Are you a person who just goes with the flow and is more accommodating?
  • Or are you a person that sees conflict as an opportunity to compromise and collaborate?

Learn more about conflict resolution in the workplace.

Example answer to ‘How do you deal with conflicts in the workplace?’

‘Based on my experience, the best way to handle conflicts is to approach the situation professionally and directly. The situations that I have been in taught me that the best strategy is to try to see things from someone else’s perspective and to approach the situation with an open mind. Understanding the perspective of others allows you to get a better feeling of how they really feel. In conflict situations, this gave me the opportunity to get to the core of the issue and the ability to reconcile. Also, creating an environment where the situation is less ‘personal’ is a good starting point to resolve a conflict.

In my previous job, my team got into a discussion about the quarterly budgets that needed to be allocated. An argument started about which department should receive what part of the budget. During the meeting, I saw the team split up in two sides. Both sides thought they were right and tried to convince the other side of their choices. In my experience, conflicts usually arise due to differences in priorities, whether it be internal or external.

It was my responsibility to prevent this minor conflict from escalating into a large one. As it often goes, the way things were said influenced the discussion negatively, and the substantiation of priorities was not clear to the other side. Both sides of the team made assumptions about why the other side felt a certain way. I mediated the conflict to understand their differences by asking specific questions to both sides to get a feeling of where their train of thought came from. Within 15 minutes, both sides were able to remove a large part of the tension and started working on a constructive solution because they understood each other’s logic behind their choices.’

  1. Why should we hire you?

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

This is a very direct question that may look scary. However, it actually a great opportunity to show why you’re qualified. You can show that you did your research and know why you’re qualified. The interviewer wants you to explain why you think that you have the ability to successfully perform the job if you get hired.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

In your answer, it’s important that you match your qualifications with the job requirements. Also, don’t just say that you are qualified; show it. This question is perfect for you to focus on your uniqueness and any extra qualities you possess that can help you contribute to the company.

Example answer to ‘Why should we hire you?’

‘When I went through the job description for this position, I knew that this would be a perfect match. My commercial skills and management experience perfectly align with what you’re looking for. I’m confident that my experience and abilities will help me successfully perform the project management position.

I have effectively led teams for over five years, and in the last two years, my region earned the region of the year title back to back. Besides my background in successfully leading team projects, my networking skills helped me develop great relationships with clients, developers, and vendors.

My professional experiences, coupled with my good communication skills, work ethic, and friendly attitude, makes me a perfect fit for the job. I have the experience to start contributing to your team from day one. Needless to say, I’m very excited about the prospect of starting in your organization.’

  1. Tell me about yourself

The reason why the interviewer asks this tough question

Usually, this question is used as a first or second question to start the conversation. Also, because the question is open-ended, the interviewers can use the information you give them to come up with a follow-up question. The main goal of this question is to get to know you better and assess your soft and hard skills.

For you, this is a perfect opportunity to sue this question to your advantage to show that you are effective and clear in your communication. Furthermore, you can present yourself professionally and demonstrate why you’re the perfect candidate for the job.

What the interviewer is looking for in your answer

The interviewer is looking for you to communicate clearly and have a story ready about your present, past, and future. Hiring managers generally are interested in your current role, accomplishments, and your work history. Furthermore, they want to know how you got to this point and why you’re interested in this position. Here it’s important that you relate your answer to the position and company.

Example answer to ‘Tell me about yourself’

‘I grew up in a town near [City] in a family that owns a restaurant. My family has worked in that restaurant for generations. As I got older, I used to assist my parents in the business. I always had an interest in the commercial side and helped with structuring marketing campaigns to get the occupancy up during the low season.

After graduating from high school for me, the decision was easy: I would go to Business School at the [University of XYZ]. I chose [University of XYZ] because of the school’s strong academics and strong reputation.

During the summer, I followed an internship at Deutsche Bank and the year after at Citigroup. Those experiences, for me, were very valuable to gain a better insight into what I wanted in my future career. Holding analyst positions at Deutsche Bank as well as at Citi made clear for me that I wanted to get into investment banking. I enjoyed those internships a lot and passed the CFA level I exam soon after. The financial industry gives me the opportunity to demonstrate my quantitative and analytical abilities.

After I graduated, I got an offer at Deutsche Bank, and I’ve worked there for the last two years as an associate. I’m very experienced in financial modeling, and I was responsible for valuing equities, bonds, and developing investment strategies for mutual funds and other portfolios. My experience seamlessly matches the requirements of the job description. So that is what got me interested in this particular role, and I feel it’s the right step to take in my career. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to interview for it. Thanks for the invitation and your time to chat with me today.’