Job interviews are not meant to be easy. While the interviewer may ask you a few easy questions in the beginning, there is a strong chance you will be asked a few tough ones later on. These questions help the business learn more about you and evaluate how you react under pressure.
What difficult questions could come up in an interview? In this guide, we walk you through seven hard questions you may be asked in your next job interview.
Why Interviewers Asked Hard Questions
There are a few different reasons employers ask tough questions in an interview.
Employers want to get to know you as much as possible. Some of the things they want to know are not easy to find out, so they need to ask tough questions. For instance, if an interviewer wants to know about your greatest weakness, there are few ways of finding out other than asking you directly.
Asking difficult interview questions also helps the employer evaluate how you think under pressure. While the employer will be interested in your answer, they will be more focused on how you respond to that question, and how you structure your answer. Indeed, you don’t need to answer every interview question perfectly: keeping your composure under pressure is in itself a strength that employers value.
Top Hard Interview Questions
What makes an interview question hard is different for everyone. With that said, there are a few questions that often come up in job interviews that are more difficult to answer than others. Let’s explore a few common hard interview questions and look at examples of how you can answer them.
#1: What is your greatest weakness?
This is a common question in job interviews. Employers ask this question to assess whether you are self-aware enough to know where you can improve. This is a key attribute in any worker—those who know how they can improve are more likely to take the necessary steps to become a better worker.
To answer this question, begin by mentioning one of your weaknesses. Then, transition to discussing how you intend to overcome it.
“One weakness I have is that I have trouble saying ‘no’ to new assignments. This often results in me taking on more work than I am able to manage. To improve, I am starting to use new productivity tools to help me evaluate how much work I have, and whether I have the necessary time to take on more tasks.”
#2: Tell us about a time when you had a conflict with a coworker. How did you resolve this situation?
Even if you have the best team in the world, there will always be disagreements on important topics. Employers ask this question to find out if you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes and constructively respond to situations in which there are two opposing views.
To answer this question, you should bring up a conflict you had with a coworker, and discuss how you found a solution.
“In my last job, I was working as a full stack web developer and my coworker recommended that we adopt a new technology to boost our rendering speeds. I thought that it would add too much complexity into our codebase, and when I spoke to them about it, they refused to consider my perspective.
To respond, I spent some time researching the strengths and drawbacks of using the new technology. I then presented my findings to my coworker, and suggested that we get the whole team involved in the decision. After our team meeting, we decided to use the technology anyway, as the rest of the team was able to convince me that it would be a good investment of our time and resources.”
#3: Why are you leaving your current job?
Employers often want to know why you are leaving your current job. This question is asked to help an employer identify any red flags that may make you unsuitable for the position for which you have applied.
You should provide an honest answer, but avoid being too negative or critical as this could make a bad impression.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working in my last job. However, after a discussion with my manager, it was clear that the business did not have any clear opportunities available for career progression. I think this job more clearly aligns with my long-term ambitions and would allow me to develop my skills to the extent that I want to.”
#4: Why do you want to work here?
Employers don’t ask you this question so they can hear how great you think their work culture is. They want to know whether you have spent time researching the company and what it offers its employees. Consider why you applied for the job in the first place, and use that information to help you prepare an answer.
“I have worked in the retail industry for more than three years. I have developed extensive experience working with the public and responding to customer complaints and requests, and I’m ready to use that expertise in a new position. I enjoy working with other people, getting to know their needs, and figuring out how I can best meet those needs.
I saw on your website that you are committed to providing a pleasurable customer experience to everyone who comes into your store. This is a value that I care deeply about, and I would love to apply my expertise to help you achieve this goal.”
#5: Why should we hire you?
This is one of the most direct questions that you can be asked in a job interview. Employers ask this question because they want to know what makes you different from all the other candidates. What makes you the best candidate?
To answer this question, give examples of your past experience and skills, and explain how they qualify you for the job.
“You should hire me for this position because of my proven organizational skills. In my last role as an executive assistant, I developed a new system of categorizing our executive correspondence and memos. This helped us free up a large space in our office supply closet, and reduce the time it took to retrieve important documents significantly. I would like to apply these skills to this position.”
#6: What did you dislike about your previous job?
Even if you didn’t like your last job, this question is not an opportunity to list all the grievances you have with your last employer. Employers ask this question to learn about how you navigate difficult work environments. For example, if you say you didn’t like the people in your last job, they may take it as a sign that you are not a good team player.
To answer, you should discuss a problem you had in your previous job. However, make sure the reason you give is not too negative.
“In my last job, my boss gave me a wide range of different responsibilities that fell outside my job description. While I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about different areas of the business, it made it difficult for me to focus on my core responsibilities.”
#7: Give us an example of a time when you were given critical feedback. What was the feedback, and how did you address it?
Employers ask this question to find out whether you are aware of your weaknesses and are willing to improve. You should respond by giving a clear piece of criticism you have been given and discussing how you addressed it.
“In my last job, the manager told me that I tend to work individually rather than as part of a team. I understand the importance of team collaboration in a creative work environment. As a result, I am now trying to get myself more involved with team work.
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Before I work on a team project, I like to get to know my team in more depth. This helps me build the confidence I need to work in a team. I also like to schedule frequent meetings to hold myself accountable.”
Job interviews are stressful enough, and the last thing you want is to be caught off-guard by a tough interview question.
Interviewers don’t ask tough questions just to add stress to an already intense situation. Rather, they ask tough questions to get a deeper insight into who you are and what qualifies you for the job.
By following the advice given in this article, you’ll be able to prepare for seven hard job interview questions that may come up. Answering these questions well may help you get the job.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.