When you apply for a new position, a prospective employer might ask some tricky interview questions. The hiring manager asks the same tough questions of all job seekers to find the best person for the role. We’ve gathered tough interview questions and answers to help you be successful in your next interview.
Here are 75 tough interview questions and examples of good answers to show you are a great fit.
75 Tough Interview Example Questions and Answers
1. Tell me about yourself.
Why This Is Asked: This question is looking to understand who you are professionally and if you will be a good fit for the company. It is not asking about you on a personal level.
Important Points to Address: Describe yourself as having values and ambitions that are a match for the job description. Answer this question in the context of your professional history or if you don’t have any, school or community activities that exhibit those values and ambitions.
I am a talented professional with several years of experience. I have a passion for details, facts, and analysis, which has led me to specialize in this field. In my current role, I lead a team and oversee all aspects of our digital presence. I’m looking for a new challenge where I can utilize my skillset and continue to grow.
2. What didn’t you like about your last job?
Why This Is Asked: This question is asked to assess your honesty and transparency. Your answer can also reveal a lot about yourself, including personality flaws, or raise red flags about your future in the new role.
Important Points to Address: Use caution! Do not be disrespectful or negative about your previous employer, your former boss, or your former colleagues.
Do not indicate that you are not flexible with your job responsibilities and do not gripe about having a heavier workload than your boss or colleagues. These are all interview-killers. Your interviewer will hear “I don’t like people, am not a team player, and don’t like to work hard.”
There wasn’t much that I disliked about my last job. It was a strong team of professionals who worked well together to consistently deliver quality results. If I had to pick any one thing, it would be that I felt the company had a lot more potential and room to grow, but that this potential was not pursued by management.
For this reason, I am looking for a job where I can grow and develop my skills further, progress my career, and help the business reach its full potential.
3. Why are you leaving your current role?
Why This Is Asked: Having an idea of why you left your last position reveals a lot about your motivation and values. It helps an employer know if you are likely to stay at their company.
Important Points to Address: Try to talk about gaining skills, progressing your career, or finding a better fit. Don’t be critical. Talk about your current position with a positive attitude and convey that you don’t intend to leave your current employer in a bad situation. Rather, you intend to offer to do what you can to make the transition as easy as possible for your current employer.
I have really enjoyed my current job until recently. I have learned a lot in my time there, developed my professional skills, and built a strong network. However, I feel that I have achieved everything that I can in the position.
I want to progress my career and develop new skills that can help the company I work for to be more productive, deliver value for their customers and gain and maintain a competitive advantage.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Why This Is Asked: This question is asked to understand your career goals. Will you stay with the company for a long time, or do you view it simply as a stepping stone for personal advantage or a paycheck?
Important Points to Address: Talk about looking for a challenge, seeking progress, and building professional skills.
I see myself in a similar role to the one I have now, but with more responsibility. I would like to have developed my skills further and be able to contribute more to the team.
In 5 years’ time, I would also like to have moved into a management position, or be well on my way to a management career path where I can help support and develop other members of the team.
5. Why should I hire you?
Why This Is Asked: This question is popular in second-stage interviews. Because companies try to only interview quality candidates, questions like this help an employer find the point of difference that makes you unique and provides them value.
Important Points to Address: Answer with the position description in mind, and demonstrate that you will add unique value to the business. Also make sure to let the interviewer know you are reliable, a very hard worker, and have the utmost integrity.
I am the best candidate for this job because of my skills, experience, and drive. I have the required skills, as well as the necessary experience to complete the role as described in the position description.
I am also highly motivated to succeed in this role. I have specific personal and career goals that are important to me, and I know that I can only achieve these by doing an excellent job in this role. In addition, I am a team player who is able to work well with others, a very hard worker, extremely reliable, and am solidly trustworthy.
6. What makes you a better worker than our other candidates?
Why This Is Asked: Recruitment is an expensive process for a business. They will have several strong candidates for a single position, and they need to generate as much value as they can from this role. This question provides the candidate a chance to demonstrate attributes that might not be obvious in normal interview questions.
Important Points to Address: This question is a good time to discuss the soft skills that you bring to the role. Soft skills are highly valued and can be a great point of difference, and they may not be obvious enough in your other answers.
I am a better fit than other candidates for this role for several reasons. I have the exact skills and experiences requested for the role. I have a well-developed set of soft skills in addition to my technical skills. Specifically, I possess excellent teamwork and interpersonal skills. I have devoted a lot of time in the past to improving my communication skills to become an excellent and effective communicator.
I am highly adaptable and can change to meet the needs of the current environment very quickly. And I am a critical thinker and adept problem solver who can come up with novel solutions to complex problems. Finally, I am driven to succeed in the role as this position is a perfect match for my career ambitions, and I have been waiting for a suitable opportunity with your company for a long time.
7. What is your biggest weakness?
Why This Is Asked: Employers know that no one is perfect. They ask this question to test your honesty and transparency but also to identify if you have any weaknesses that would prevent you from performing well in the job.
Important Points to Address: When asked about your greatest weakness, don’t say you have no weaknesses. When you give a weakness, provide a specific example that is not a match for the skills needed in the role. Also, put a positive spin on your weakness, and say that you are learning to overcome this weakness. Stay away from talking about having difficulty handling feedback or criticism, because you need to handle this well to succeed.
I am a perfectionist and often dwell on small details. This can sometimes lead to me being too critical of my own work and the work of others.
I have been working on this by trying to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, and evaluate results objectively. I am also aware that this is something that I need to continue to work on, and I am open to feedback from others to help me improve in this area.
8. Describe a time when you failed. What happened?
Why This Is Asked: Questions about failure are trying to see that you can admit shortcomings and learn from past mistakes.
Important Points to Address: Consider using the STAR method when presenting an answer to behavioral questions. Make sure the result draws attention to what you learned from the situation to prevent it from happening again.
In a previous job, I led a team of 5 people on a project. We were under a lot of pressure to deliver the project on time and within budget. Unfortunately, we failed to do this by a small margin.
I take full responsibility for this, as it was my role to manage the team and the project. I have learned from this experience and now use a more rigorous project management methodology to ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget.
9. Why do you want this particular job?
Why This Is Asked: This question tries to assess if you are looking for a career or simply a paycheck. Companies want employees that are motivated to turn up and want to be there.
Important Points to Address: It is important that you explain that this job is a match for your skills and previous experience and tie it back to working towards your career goals. Make sure you convey that you have read the job description as well as researched the company and even the specific interviewer(s) if you knew who they would be in advance. You want to let them know that you are serious and prepared.
This position is a perfect match for my skills, experience, and interests. I have been following the company for some time, and I am very impressed with its products and service delivery, as well as its culture and values.
I want to work for a company that is making a difference and is passionate about its work, and I believe your company fits this description. I am also very excited about working on challenging projects with talented people where we can share skills and knowledge and improve as a team.
10. Why do you want to work for our company?
Why This Is Asked: Employers want to know that you have researched their company, understand what they do, and specifically want to work with them. Some candidates apply for a ton of jobs without much thought, and then see which companies respond with interview requests. Make sure you show that is not what you did.
Important Points to Address: Mention that you have carried out research on their company and that it is a match for your long-term career goals and personal values. Provide specific examples of things you read about the company and how those things make you want to work for the company.
When I first started to proactively plan my career, I created a list of values and attributes that were important to me. I then began identifying companies that I wanted to work for that shared those values. Your company was at the top of my list because your company mission statement and customer charter demonstrate a commitment to making a difference and being a leader in these same things that are important to me.
I believe your commitment to what’s important is why your company is a world leader in the industry, and this makes your organization even more appealing to me. I believe that I share the same values and commitment that make this company great and that I possess the skills and experience required to make a valuable contribution to the future of the business.
11. Have you ever disagreed with your boss?
Why This Is Asked: This question assesses your confidence to disagree with an authority figure and your communication skills in these situations.
Important Points to Address: Do not say that you would never disagree. Good businesses don’t want cowards who would blindly follow leaders into failure. Say that you would politely object and engage in dialogue with your boss where you offer an alternative action. Make sure not to say that the result was a “compromise” or that your boss was wrong in any way. Your answer must show you respect authority.
Yes, there have been times when I have disagreed with my boss. However, I always approach these situations with respect and a willingness to find common ground. I start by trying to understand their perspective and then sharing my own point of view. I find that this approach usually leads to a productive discussion and the right outcome, whether it is the original plan of action or some modification of it.
12. How do you respond to criticism?
Why This Is Asked: The company is looking to see that you can accept feedback and that you work to improve yourself and develop your skills.
Important Points to Address: Make sure your answer is positive and talks about embracing the opportunity to learn and improve. Do not even hint that you cannot handle feedback.
I always try to take criticism as constructive feedback that I can use to improve my performance. I recognize that no one is perfect and that we all have room for improvement. I also know that it takes courage to give criticism, so I am always grateful when someone takes the time to give me feedback.
13. What is your greatest strength?
Why This Is Asked: An employer can find several candidates with at least some skill in each of the key selection criteria. This question is looking for the candidate with the strongest skill and experience in the relevant area.
Important Points to Address: Ideally, tailor your answer based on the job description and provide two or three skills that the employer is looking for. This is one of the hardest interview questions, and a general catch-all answer follows.
I take a lot of pride in my diverse skills and experience, so it is difficult to pick a single greatest strength. I think it would be my tenacity and dedication. No matter how big a problem is, I will stick with it and persist in finding a solution.
That might mean seeking help from my team, researching an unfamiliar topic, upskilling, or simply finding a new way to apply the skills I already have. I find this is a very valuable personality trait whether I am working on my own or in small or large team environments. This has served me well in my career so far, as I have been able to take on a variety of challenges and find successful solutions.
14. What motivates you?
Why This Is Asked: This question helps an employer to understand your motivations and if you will be satisfied in the role.
Important Points to Address: Say that you are motivated by working towards goals and targets, and explain how your work relates to this.
I am most motivated by a sense of accomplishment. I really enjoy taking on challenges and finding creative solutions to problems. When I am able to successfully complete a project or task, it feels great to know that I have made a meaningful contribution to the company.
15. What do you bring to the company?
Why This Is Asked: An employer is looking to see that you understand what skills and qualities are desirable to the company and that you have those skills.
Important Points to Address: Describe yourself the same way that the job advertisement describes the ideal candidate.
I am a very adaptable person, so I can bring a lot of different skills and perspectives to the company. I have a background in customer service, so I am familiar with the importance of providing excellent service. I am also very detail-oriented, so I can be relied on to pay attention to the small details that are often important in achieving success.
16. Do you have any questions for us?
Why This Is Asked: This question is asked to see if you are serious enough to have researched the company and thought about the role you are applying for.
Important Points to Address: This question will always be asked, and it IS part of the interview. You need to show that you have thought about what it would be like working for the company. If you are truly interested in the role and researched enough about the company, then you will have questions. As a last resort, you can ask about the interviewers role and path in the company, or favorite thing about working for the company.
Yes, I have some questions. Could you tell me more about the team I would be working with? What do you see as the most important soft and hard skill for this role? What are some mistakes that someone in this role should know to avoid? What are the next steps in the interview process? Will I be notified either way?
17. How would your last manager describe you?
Why This Is Asked: This question is asked to get a sense of how you are perceived by people in authority and how well you work with others.
Important Points to Address: You want to focus on qualities that would be seen as positive by the employer, such as being a team player, being flexible to change if your employer needs to change your duties, and having a strong work ethic. You want to let them know that you are not someone who slides in at the start of work and packs up to leave a minute before closing time.
My previous manager would describe me as a hard worker who is always willing to go the extra mile to get the job done and flexible to do what the team needs. She would also say that I am very detail-oriented and a team player with a great sense of customer service.
I focus on delivering my responsibilities with excellence, even if that means I need to stay late to finish up. My results and my relationships with my coworkers are very important to me.
18. What is your biggest regret?
Why This Is Asked: This question is asked to see how you deal with difficult situations and if you have learned from your mistakes.
Important Points to Address: Be honest about a situation where you made a mistake but focus on what you learned from the experience and how you have changed since then.
I don’t have any major career regrets for two reasons. First, I do not dwell on the past but focus on improving in the future. And second, I believe that everything happens for a reason. Every experience, good or bad, can be used as a learning opportunity to become a better version of myself.
Of course, I like anyone have certainly made mistakes along the way, but I have always tried to learn from them and use them to improve my performance in the future.
19. How do you respond to conflict?
Why This Is Asked: This question finds out if you are able to handle difficult situations and resolve conflict in a productive way.
Important Points to Address: Give an example of a time when you were able to diffuse a tense situation and come to a resolution that everyone was happy with.
I am usually very good at diffusing conflict before it gets out of hand. I am a firm believer in the saying “prevention is better than cure.” I always try to take a step back and see both sides of the issue before taking any action. This allows me to stay calm and collected, and to find a resolution that is fair to both parties.
20. What is your definition of success?
Why This Is Asked: This question is asked to see if your goals and definition of success match up with what the company is looking for in an employee.
Important Points to Address: Define success in terms of meeting goals and targets and being a valuable member of the team.
To me, success is about setting and achieving goals. It is about constantly striving to improve and challenge yourself. I am always willing to learn and grow. I recognize that there is always room for improvement, so I am constantly looking for new opportunities to learn and develop my skills.
I am also very dedicated and driven, so I never give up on a goal. It is also about enjoying the journey and taking the time to celebrate your accomplishments along the way.
Additional Tough Interview Questions
21. Is there any assumption people make about you that is incorrect? (If so, please describe it.)
22. What do you do in your spare time?
23. What flavor milkshake are you?
24. Would you call yourself a competitive person? (Explain.)
25. What are you passionate about?
26. How would the person that dislikes you the most describe you?
27. What is your greatest accomplishment?
28. Would you do anything differently if you could start your career over again?
29. What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome?
30. If you could make a career change to any other job or industry, what would it be and why? Why haven’t you done it?
31. Are you a risk taker? (Explain.)
32. How do you respond to stressful situations?
33. Describe a time you identified a problem that others had overlooked. What did you do?
34. What is your communication style?
35. Do you prefer written or verbal communication, and why?
36. Can you describe our organization to us?
37. Are you applying for other positions? What are they?
38. Do you think you are overqualified for this role? (Explain.)
39. Do you think you are a successful person? (Explain.)
40. If we asked you to fill this entire room with as many basketballs as possible, how would you approach the task?
41. What was the least preferable role you have ever worked in? (Explain.)
42. How do you respond if a manager asks you to do something that you disagree with?
43. How do you know you are making progress?
44. What is more important, learning from failure, immediate success, or making progress?
45. What is your favorite time management technique?
46. What does your typical day look like?
47. How do you prioritize your work?
48. How much time will you take to make a contribution to this role?
49. If given a $1 million budget in your new job, how would you allocate it?
50. What book are you currently reading?
51. Have you ever had to deliver bad news to someone? (Explain.)
52. Describe a time when you took the lead. What did you do?
53. How do you manage people?
54. Have you ever resolved a conflict between team members?
55. What is your professional development strategy?
56. What is the role of a manager?
57. What makes an effective leader?
58. What is the biggest challenge in the industry right now?
59. What is the single best piece of advice you have received about working in this industry?
60. What is the biggest flaw you have seen in a former boss?
61. What do you expect from your manager?
62. What makes a successful corporate culture?
63. What would you do if your boss told you to do something unethical?
64. What was the most difficult situation you have faced in customer service? What did you do, and what was the outcome?
65. How do you give good customer service when rejecting a customer’s request?
66. Describe a time when you gave excellent customer service. What made it a success?
67. What is the biggest difference you made in a previous role?
68. Describe your strategy for your job search.
69. What are you looking for in your next job?
70. How do you handle change?
71. Have you ever had to motivate an unmotivated team?
72. Describe a time you worked in a dysfunctional team. What strategies did you use to be effective?
73. Tell me about a time you worked with a difficult coworker.
74. How do you handle conflict with a coworker?
75. Describe a time when you took initiative. What did you do?
During any job interview, you will be asked some of these tricky questions. Each difficult interview question asked by a potential employer is to find out something specific about you as an applicant. Each right answer will make a great impression and show you are the right candidate. Wrong answers mean that your job search is going to continue.
It is a very good idea to review the sample answer given for each of these common interview questions and craft your own answer to help you land your dream job. It takes effort, so make sure to allocate the time to prepare adequately. You can do this!
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.