How to Answer Difficult Interview Questions

Job interviews can be intimidating, especially when asked tough questions. Your ability to answer these questions can make or break your chances of getting hired. So, it’s crucial to be well-prepared.

Man with hand on firehead

This article will offer practical advice on tackling difficult interview questions, including those that candidates often struggle with. These questions usually address one’s weaknesses and past failures.

We’ll also cover strategies for staying calm and confident during the interview. By following these tips, you’ll be able to boost your chances of success and feel more prepared during your next job interview.

Researching Common Difficult Interview Questions

One of the best ways to prepare for difficult interview questions is to research and practice potential responses.

To do this, you can look up job interview questions online. Many resources available online can give insight into the questions you may come across. You can also try searching for sample questions specific to the job you’re applying for.

Further, it’s helpful to review the job description and requirements, as this can give you an idea of the types of questions the interviewer may ask.

Lastly, it’s best to consider the company culture and values. This will help you anticipate questions about your work methods and etiquette.

By doing your homework and preparing well, you’ll be better equipped to handle difficult questions and increase your chances of success.

Some common difficult interview questions include:

  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • What are your long-term career goals?
  • How would you handle a situation where you disagree with your supervisor?
  • Why should we hire you?

Tips for Preparing for the Interview

Preparing for a job interview can help alleviate anxiety and boost your confidence. Here are some tips on how to prepare effectively:

Research the Company and the Job Requirements

Look into the company’s mission, values, products, services, and culture. Additionally, ensure you understand the job responsibilities and requirements to determine whether the position suits you.

Understand the Company Culture

Knowing the company culture can provide valuable insights into the work environment, management style, and team dynamics. It can help you determine if the company is a good match for your preferences and work style.

Research the Interviewer if Possible.

If you have information about the interviewer, look them up on LinkedIn or the company website.

Try to gain insights into their background and job responsibilities to help you tailor your answers to their expectations.

Here are other additional tips to help you along the way:

  • Create a list of potential questions.
  • Practice with a family or friend to get feedback and gain confidence in your responses.
  • Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to help you organize your answers.
  • Record yourself while practicing your answers to identify areas needed for improvement.

Tips for Framing Responses in a Positive Way

Job interviews can be challenging, especially when asked about your weaknesses, conflicts with colleagues, or gaps in your employment history. When answering difficult questions during an interview, it’s good practice to frame your responses positively.

By approaching challenging questions with a positive mindset, you can demonstrate resilience and a proactive attitude to potential employers:

1. Be Honest

While you should focus on the positive, you need to be honest with your responses. Exaggerating or lying can backfire and damage your credibility.

2. Start With a Positive Statement

Begin your responses with a positive statement. It sets the tone for the rest of your answer. For example, if asked about a conflict with a co-worker, you can discuss how you resolved the issue and what you learned from it.

3. Provide a Solution

When discussing problems or challenges, provide solutions and how you’d implement them. Doing this can demonstrate your problem-solving skills and show how you can bring value to the company.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice

The more you practice positively framing your answers, the more natural it’ll feel during the interview.

Specific Types of Interview Questions and How to Handle Them

There are different specific types of interview questions that you may encounter. This section will give several examples and tips on how to answer them:

Behavioural Questions

During a job interview, you may encounter behavioural questions. These questions ask you to describe a situation or experience and how you handled it.

You can use the STAR method to structure your answers. It means you should be specific about the situation and your role in it. Additionally, explain the actions you took and their outcome.

By doing so, you can showcase your problem-solving skills and demonstrate your ability to take initiative.

Some examples of behavioural questions include:

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to prioritize multiple tasks or responsibilities.
  • Can you tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a change in a work environment?
  • Can you give an example of a goal you set for yourself and how you achieved it?

Career Goals Questions

You may be asked about your career goals and aspirations. In this case, you should be honest and specific about your goals and how they relate to the job you’re applying for.

It’s crucial to show that the position fits your long-term career goals. Furthermore, be realistic about your plan for achieving them, and showcase your motivation to grow within the company.

A few examples of career goals questions include:

  • How does this job fit into your career goals?
  • What steps have you taken to achieve your goals?
  • What are some specific goals you have for your career in the next five years?

Strengths Questions

These types of questions are commonly asked in interviews to assess your capabilities and your potential contribution to the company. When answering, it’s important to be genuine and specific about your strengths and skills.

Giving examples is a great way to illustrate your strengths. Additionally, you should showcase how your skills can be an asset to the company. By doing so, you can demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job.

Several strengths questions include:

  • What skills do you possess that you believe would be valuable in this position?
  • What do you think sets you apart from the other candidates?
  • What technical skills do you have that are relevant to this position?


Job interviews can be overwhelming, especially when faced with difficult questions. You can navigate through situations by researching common, difficult interview questions, preparing thoroughly, and using a positive framing approach.

It’s also crucial to anticipate specific questions and plan how to answer them confidently. With these tips in mind, you can increase your chances of acing your interviews and landing your desired positions.