50 Difficult Interview Questions and Suggested Responses

Difficult Interview Questions and Suggested Responses

General Questions

  1. Tell me about you!
    • Keep your answer to one or two minutes; don’t ramble.
    • Use your “positioning statement” (resume summary) as a base to start.
  2. What do you know about our company?
    • 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.
  3. Why do you want to work for us?
    • 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.
  4. What would you do for us? What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
    • Relate past experiences which represent success in solving previous
      employer problem(s) which may be similar to those of the prospective
  5. What about our position do you find the most attractive? Least attractive?
    • List three or more attractive factors and only one minor unattractive factor.
  6. Why should we hire you?
    • Because of knowledge, experience, abilities, and skills.
  7. What do you look for in a job?
    • An opportunity to use skills, to perform and be recognized.
  8. Please give me your definition of a … (the position for which you are being interviewed).
    • Keep it brief, actions and results oriented
  9. How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?
    • Very quickly after a little orientation and a brief period of adjustment on the learning curve.
  10. How long would you stay with us?
    • As long as we both feel I’m contributing, achieving, growing etc.

Experience and Management Questions

  1. You may be overqualified or too experienced for the position we have to offer.
    • 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.
  2. What is your management style?
    • (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
  3. Are you a good manager? Give an example. Why do you feel you have top managerial potential?
    • Keep your answer achievement and task oriented, emphasize management
      skills– planning, organizing, controlling, interpersonal, etc.
  4. What did you look for when you hired people?
    • Skills, initiative, adaptability.
  5. Did you ever fire anyone? If so, what were the reasons and how did you handle it?
    • You have had experience with this and it worked out well.
  6. What do you see as the most difficult task in being a manager?
    • Getting things planned and done on time within the budget.
  7. What do your subordinates think of you?
    • Be honest and positive…they can check your responses easily.
  8. What is your biggest weakness as a manager?
    • 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

  1. What important trends do you see in our industry?
    • Keep your answer to two or three trends.

If You Are Leaving A Job

  1. Why are you leaving your present job?
    • Refine your answer based on your comfort level and honesty.
    • Give a “group” answer if possible, e.g. our department was consolidated or eliminated.
  2. How do you feel about leaving all of your benefits?
    • Concerned but not panicked.
  3. Describe what you feel to be an ideal working environment.
    • Where people are treated as fairly as possible.
  4. How would you evaluate your present firm?
    • An excellent company which afforded me many fine experiences.

Quantifying Your Experience, Accomplishments

  1. Have you helped increase sales? Profits? How?
    • Describe in some detail.
  2. Have you helped reduce costs? How?
    • Same as above.
  3. How much money did you ever account for?
    • Be specific.
  4. How many people did you supervise on your last job?
    • Be specific.
  5. Do you like working with figures more than words?
    • Be honest but positive.
  6. In your current or last position, what features did you like the most? Least?
    • Same as above
  7. In your current or last position, what are or were your five most significant accomplishments?
    • You could refer to the key accomplishments already identified on resume.

Job Search Questions

  1. Why haven’t you found a new position before now?
    • Finding a job is easy but finding the right job is more difficult. (You are being “selective”)
  2. Had you thought of leaving your present position before? If yes, what do you think held you there?
    • Challenge, but it’s gone now.
  3. What do you think of your boss?
    • Be as positive as you can.
  4. Would you describe a situation in which your work was criticized?
  5. What other types of jobs or companies are you considering?
    • Keep your answer related to this company’s field

Your Work Habits and Style

  1. If I spoke with your previous boss, what would he say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
    • 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.
  2. Can you work under pressures, deadlines, etc.?
    • Yes. Quite simply, it is a way of life in business.
  3. How have you changed the nature of your job?
    • Improved it…of course.
  4. Do you prefer staff or line work? Why?
    • Depends on the job and its challenges.
  5. In your present position, what problems have you identified that had previously been overlooked?
    • Keep it brief and don’t brag.
  6. Don’t you feel you might be better off in a different size company? Different type company?
    • Depends on the job — elaborate slightly.
  7. How do you resolve conflict on a project team?
    • First discuss issues privately.
  8. What was the most difficult decision you ever had to make?
    • Attempt to relate your response to the prospective employment situation.

Salary Questions

  1. How much are you looking for?
    • 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.
  2. How much do you expect, if we offer this position to you?
    • 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 $______.”
  3. What kind of salary are you worth?
    • Have a specific figure in mind…don’t be hesitant.

Personality Questions

  1. What was the last book you read? Movie you saw? Sporting event you attended?
    • Talk about books, sports or films to represent balance in you life.
  2. How would you describe your own personality?
    • Balanced.
  3. What are your strong points?
    • Present at least three and relate them to the interviewing company and job opening.
  4. What are your weak points?
    • 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.”
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