50 Difficult Interview Questions and Suggested Responses
- Tell me about you!
What do you know about our company?
- Keep your answer to one or two minutes; don’t ramble.
- Use your “positioning statement” (resume summary) as a base to start.
Why do you want to work for us?
- Know products, size, income, reputation, image, goals, problems,
management talent, management style, people, skills, history, and
- Project an informed interest, let the interviewer tell you about the company, let them define their business in their terms.
What would you do for us? What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
- Don’t talk about what you want; first talk about their needs.
- You wish to be part of a company project.
- You would like to solve a company problem.
- You can make a definite contribution to specific company goals: identify its management talent, etc.
What about our position do you find the most attractive? Least attractive?
- Relate past experiences which represent success in solving previous
employer problem(s) which may be similar to those of the prospective
Why should we hire you?
- List three or more attractive factors and only one minor unattractive factor.
What do you look for in a job?
- Because of knowledge, experience, abilities, and skills.
Please give me your definition of a … (the position for which you are being interviewed).
- An opportunity to use skills, to perform and be recognized.
How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?
- Keep it brief, actions and results oriented
How long would you stay with us?
- Very quickly after a little orientation and a brief period of adjustment on the learning curve.
- As long as we both feel I’m contributing, achieving, growing etc.
Experience and Management Questions
- You may be overqualified or too experienced for the position we have to offer.
What is your management style?
- Strong companies need strong people.
- Experienced executives are at a premium today.
- Emphasize your interest in a long-term association.
- The employer will get a faster return on investment because you have more experience than required.
- A growing, energetic company is rarely unable to use its people talents.
Are you a good manager? Give an example. Why do you feel you have top managerial potential?
- (If you’ve never thought about this, it’s high time you did.) Open
door is best….but you get the job done on time or inform your
What did you look for when you hired people?
- Keep your answer achievement and task oriented, emphasize management
skills– planning, organizing, controlling, interpersonal, etc.
Did you ever fire anyone? If so, what were the reasons and how did you handle it?
- Skills, initiative, adaptability.
What do you see as the most difficult task in being a manager?
- You have had experience with this and it worked out well.
What do your subordinates think of you?
- Getting things planned and done on time within the budget.
What is your biggest weakness as a manager?
- Be honest and positive…they can check your responses easily.
- Be honest and end on a positive note, e.g. “I have a problem
reprimanding people so I always begin with something positive first.”
Industry Trends Questions
- What important trends do you see in our industry?
- Keep your answer to two or three trends.
If You Are Leaving A Job
- Why are you leaving your present job?
How do you feel about leaving all of your benefits?
- Refine your answer based on your comfort level and honesty.
- Give a “group” answer if possible, e.g. our department was consolidated or eliminated.
Describe what you feel to be an ideal working environment.
- Concerned but not panicked.
How would you evaluate your present firm?
- Where people are treated as fairly as possible.
- An excellent company which afforded me many fine experiences.
Quantifying Your Experience, Accomplishments
Have you helped reduce costs? How?How much money did you ever account for?How many people did you supervise on your last job?Do you like working with figures more than words?In your current or last position, what features did you like the most? Least?In your current or last position, what are or were your five most significant accomplishments?
- Have you helped increase sales? Profits? How?
- You could refer to the key accomplishments already identified on resume.
Job Search Questions
- Why haven’t you found a new position before now?
Had you thought of leaving your present position before? If yes, what do you think held you there?
- Finding a job is easy but finding the right job is more difficult. (You are being “selective”)
What do you think of your boss?
- Challenge, but it’s gone now.
Would you describe a situation in which your work was criticized?What other types of jobs or companies are you considering?
- Be as positive as you can.
- Keep your answer related to this company’s field
Your Work Habits and Style
- If I spoke with your previous boss, what would he say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Can you work under pressures, deadlines, etc.?
- Emphasize skills — don’t be overly negative about your weaknesses;
it’s always safe to identify a lack of a skill or experience as a
shortcoming rather than a personal characteristic.
How have you changed the nature of your job?Do you prefer staff or line work? Why?
- Yes. Quite simply, it is a way of life in business.
In your present position, what problems have you identified that had previously been overlooked?
- Depends on the job and its challenges.
Don’t you feel you might be better off in a different size company? Different type company?
- Keep it brief and don’t brag.
How do you resolve conflict on a project team?
- Depends on the job — elaborate slightly.
What was the most difficult decision you ever had to make?
- First discuss issues privately.
- Attempt to relate your response to the prospective employment situation.
- How much are you looking for?
How much do you expect, if we offer this position to you?
- Answer with a question, i.e., “What is the salary range for similar jobs in your company?”
- If they don’t answer, then give a range of what you understand you are worth in the marketplace.
What kind of salary are you worth?
- Be careful; the market value of the job may be the key answer e.g.,
“My understanding is that a job like the one you’re describing may be in
the range of $______.”
- Have a specific figure in mind…don’t be hesitant.
- What was the last book you read? Movie you saw? Sporting event you attended?
How would you describe your own personality?What are your strong points?
- Talk about books, sports or films to represent balance in you life.
What are your weak points?
- Present at least three and relate them to the interviewing company and job opening.
- Don’t say you have none.
- Try not to cite personal characteristics as weaknesses, but be ready to have one if interviewer presses.
- Turn a negative into a positive answer: “I am sometimes intent on
completing an assignment and get too deeply involved when we are late.”