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10 Tough Interview Questions: [With Sample Answers]

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Going to your first or 10th interview can be nerve-racking, especially if you’re worried about how to answer tough interview questions.

This is why you must be ready with answers so that your back-and-forth with the interviewer will go seamlessly.

Below you’ll find an assortment of challenging interview questions that hiring managers like to ask along with their ideal answers.

10 Common Tough Interview Questions

You should always get a general idea of the trickiest questions you’ll likely be asked at an interview.

Here’s a quick preview to set your expectations on:

  1. What Did You Not Like About Your Previous Job?
  2. How Do You Handle Stress and Pressure?
  3. How Do You Deal With Criticism?
  4. What Would You Change About Your Career If You Could Rewind Time?
  5. How Successful Do You Think You Are at This Point?
  6. What Do You Find Attractive and Unattractive About This Position?
  7. How Long Will You Stay with Us?
  8. What Do You Think of Your Former Boss?
  9. Why Aren’t You Earning More at Your Age?
  10. How Would You Describe Yourself?

Besides familiarizing yourself with these questions’ answers, you should also look up final-round interview questions if you’ve made it to the last set of interviews.

Final interview questions can determine whether or not you may get accepted for the job, so they’re worth a once-over as well.

What Should I Say in a Tough Interview?

The things you should say in a tough interview have to align with the skills that the interviewer is looking for.

You shouldn’t rehearse the answers to their questions word-for-word either, because they’ll sound insincere.

What Skills Are Tough Interviewers Looking For in a Candidate?

It’s essential to prepare before an interview by understanding the mindset of the hiring manager.

They’ll be looking for an open-minded and confident candidate. The following skills are important, too.

  • Quick thinking: Tough interviews are designed to test your ability to come up with diplomatic answers in a short amount of time.
  • Courage: An interviewer will have high regard for candidates who display confidence, even when asked difficult questions.
  • Honesty: Being honest in a tough interview means you’re likely to have a strong work ethic.
  • Intelligence: Employers appreciate smart candidates who can make the trickiest questions work to their advantage.
  • Flexibility: Displaying adaptive behavior in a challenging interview lets your interviewer know you’ll be able to take up different types of tasks.

What Traits Are Tough Interviewers Looking to Avoid in a Candidate?

Much like how it’s necessary to demonstrate interview skills, knowing unsavory attributes that you need to subdue can help you ace a tough interview.

  • Arrogance: You should broadcast enough confidence so as not to come off as arrogant, which is a red flag for many interviewers.
  • Negative perspective: A candidate who doesn’t take challenges with a positive approach won’t be able to contribute much to the company’s vision.
  • Poor communication: The lack of communication skills can get in the way of a productive work environment.

Sample Tough Interview Questions and Answers

Before your interview is due, stand in front of a mirror and practice the answers to the following difficult questions.

We also suggest working on your facial expressions and body language.

You’ll want to appear sure of yourself, invested in your interviewer’s questions, and friendly.

1. What Did You Not Like About Your Previous Job?

Many job interviews will include this question across several industries for many reasons.

Your answer will give your interviewer an idea about how professional you are, whether or not your previous job was a good experience.

Why This Question Is Asked

Hiring managers want to get your feedback on your previous position so that they can make your time at their company a better one.

They’ll also mark your response; as it’s an indicator of what you’ll have to say about their company if someone else asks you about it.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Try to be as honest as possible. Mention a few downsides that you didn’t like about your previous position, but keep things professional and related to the workplace.

Always be respectful.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t sound too negative or dive into long explanations.

Avoid recounting personal disagreements with individuals.

Example Answer

“While I learned a lot from my previous position, I wasn’t a fan of the limited resources that I was offered. I always thrived for more to improve my skills and make significant contributions to the workplace.”

2. How Do You Handle Stress and Pressure?

This question is a staple in all interviews to gauge your capabilities.

It’s one that you should approach with care to set realistic expectations.

Why This Question Is Asked

Your employer will want to know if they can depend on you in challenging situations.

They also want to evaluate your problem-solving techniques and whether or not they’ll match the company’s standards.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Outline that this skill is necessary for a successful employee.

Mention several incidents where you were able to work around stressful situations and how you managed to overcome them.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Steer clear of stories where your actions led to extra pressure in the workplace.

Also, don’t mention how being stress can affect your performance.

Example Answer

“I do my best not to let stress work its way to my brain. Instead, I put my entire focus on what to do to lift that pressure off, and this way, I’m able to motivate myself.”

3. How Do You Deal With Criticism?

There are bound to be instances where you’ll be criticized by your boss or manager.

Your response to that can make all the difference to your appeal as a candidate.

Why This Question Is Asked

Your interviewer will want to know whether you’re open to hearing negative feedback and how you can work it to your advantage.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Explain how constructive criticism is one of the many ways that an employee’s work can improve. Focus on the word “feedback” to turn your answer into a positive one.

You can also mention a specific situation where criticism helped you succeed in a previous position.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t say that you’ve never received criticism or aren’t expecting to.

This answer makes an applicant appear boastful, not to mention that it isn’t realistic.

Example Answer

“I’ve learned a lot from negative feedback in the past. It helped me improve my performance and self-evaluate myself regularly to give my best.”

4. What Would You Change About Your Career If You Could Rewind Time?

Questions like this shed some light on your personality and how you see yourself.

Your answer will highlight the level of your confidence.

Why This Question Is Asked

Your interviewer wants to learn more about your career goals, expectations, and ambitions.

They also like to get a better understanding of how far you think you’ve come in your career.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

“Nothing” is the right answer to this question.

You should make it clear that you have no regrets regarding your career choices and that you learned a lot from every decision you’ve made.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid going into detail about any negative experiences in the past career-wise.

Example Answer

“I wouldn’t change a thing because even the most challenging times helped me find my strengths. They’re the reason why I’m here now, and I’m thankful for that.”

5. How Successful Do You Think You Are at This Point?

Much like the previous one, this question is another way that the interviewer can get a measure of how you perceive yourself.

It’s important to think carefully before answering this one to give the right impression.

Why This Question Is Asked

A hiring manager will want to see how ambitious you are by asking this question.

They’ll also be able to determine whether your confidence is genuine or false.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Express how satisfied you are with how far you’ve come in your career and let them know that you expect to be more successful in the future with hard work.

Highlight that you’ve done and continue doing your best to make advances in your career.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Steer clear of showing too much enthusiasm by claiming that you’re the most successful person out there.

Calm confidence is key here.

Example Answer

“I’m pleased with where I am now, especially with life’s expected ups and downs. I’m also positive that if I keep putting in hard work, I’ll be able to reach higher elevations in the future.”

6. What Do You Find Attractive and Unattractive About This Position?

As an outsider, your opinion on the company’s open position is important because you have fresh eyes.

You should get ready to give honest, yet diplomatic answers to this question.

Why This Question Is Asked

The person conducting the interview hopes that your expectations align with their position’s responsibility and benefits.

At the same time, they want your feedback so that they can make modifications to it in the future.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Mention three to five factors that drew your attention to this job opening and talk about how each one of them will benefit your career.

Only talk about one negative aspect and try to make your explanation short.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t keep on listing one attractive attribute after the other. This shows that you’re only trying to compliment the company to pass the interview.

Be honest and don’t mention factors that aren’t real about the job to please your interviewer.

Example Answer

“When I came upon this position, I admired the flexible work schedule. However, I wasn’t fond of the possibility that I might  work on weekends.”

7. How Long Will You Stay with Us?

Most interviewers will ask you this question to understand your commitment to the job.

Your answer will have to be the perfect balance of optimistic and realistic.

Why This Question Is Asked

A hiring manager will ask you this to see whether or not you’ll be working with the company long-term.

Based on your answer, they’ll determine if it’s worth investing in you as an employee when it comes to training, which is often time-consuming.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

The ideal answer is to tell your interviewer that you’re looking for a career with their organization.

If you think there might be any reason in the future that can get in the way of achieving that, you should let them know about it, too, to set their expectations.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep only for the sake of passing the interview.

Example Answer

“I’m ready to stay with your company for as long as I’m able to make meaningful contributions to it. I want to keep growing in my career, and I’d like my role here to reflect that.”

8. What Do You Think of Your Former Boss?

This question is a surefire way to learn how respectful you are to those who are above you, even if you’re no longer working with them.

A positive answer is the way to go.

Why This Question Is Asked

Whoever interviews you asks this question knowing that you’ll likely speak the same way of your current boss—if you get the job—in future interviews.

Whether or not you’re respectful will tell a lot about your personality and professionalism.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Relay all the good things that your previous boss brought to your work experience.

For credibility, you can mention one thing that he/she could’ve improved about how they handled things in the workplace.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid putting your former boss in a completely negative light.

It’s also important to stay away from personal stories; remain focused on behavior related to work performance.

Example Answer

“My previous boss was a great example of a supportive, positive, and strong leader. I would’ve preferred if he were more flexible with several aspects of our projects, but we always found a way to work around our differences.”

9. Why Aren’t You Earning More at Your Age?

Despite how delicate this question may be, learning the right answer to it should keep you from looking shocked if your interviewer drops it.

Why This Question Is Asked

This question gauges your reaction to such a sensitive topic.

Your interviewer will want to see how you deal with tough situations; will you get nervous, angry, and flushed, or will you provide a calm, polite answer?

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Calmly highlight that this is one important reason why you’re currently searching for a job.

Focus on the positive attributes of your former position and how it contributed to your past experience despite everything.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t be defensive or go into elaborate explanations on how your previous job didn’t pay you well.

Trying to justify your career choices may look like a sign of weakness.

Example Answer

“In my former company, my focus was on gaining more experience in this industry and honing my skills. While my salary wasn’t ideal, I greatly benefited from working there and was able to advance in my career.”

10. How Would You Describe Yourself?

Even though no one knows you better than you, you can get stuck trying to answer this question.

Why This Question Is Asked

Your interviewer wants to understand how you view yourself and what skills you value more than others.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Talk about the positive aspects of your personality, the areas where you shine, and what you can offer to the organization.

Mention why you think you’re the right fit for this role and how your skills work in tandem with your responsibilities.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid mentioning undesirable traits or going into too much detail about how awesome you are.

A measured response without too much enthusiasm or too much stiffness is the way to go.

Example Answer

“I’m a well-organized, detail-oriented person with respect for deadlines. I worked on several projects similar to yours, which is why I think my expertise aligns with your vision and goals.”

Other Common Interview Questions You Could Be Asked

Once you’ve rehearsed the answers to tough interview questions, it’s a good idea to focus on other common questions you can face.

1. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

Your mind may struggle to come up with an answer, especially if you’re not someone who plans years into their future.

It’s also easy to provide the wrong answer to this question if you haven’t practiced the right one.

Why This Question Is Asked

Your hiring manager needs to gauge your ambition levels, plans for the future, and how serious you are about your career.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Talk about the skills you want to acquire, the type of projects you’d like to work on, and other professional goals that also align with your position.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t mention specific titles or say “I don’t know” or “Not here!”

Example Answer

“I see myself with more knowledge in this work field and advanced skills that can benefit this company as well as my career.”

2. What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

This is another delicate question that might catch you off-guard in an interview.

If you’re not ready, your answer may negatively affect your interview’s outcome.

Why This Question Is Asked

Interviewers ask this question to evaluate your self-awareness and see how you deal with discussing weaknesses openly and with confidence.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

You’ll need to focus on weak points that can be turned into strengths if you work on them.

For example, you may highlight how you’re too particular about finishing tasks before a deadline.

Or, you can express that you lack experience in a certain area of work, but you’re willing to compensate for that.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Steer clear of mentioning glaring weaknesses that might leave a negative impression.

These include always being late, procrastination, and the like.

Example Answer

“I want to work on my inability to ask for help. I usually prefer to find solutions on my own. Usually, that helps me learn, but it can sometimes be counterproductive.”

3. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?

Answering this question can be hard, especially if you’re quitting your current job for a reason that you’re not comfortable sharing.

However, adequate interview practice helps you come prepared.

Why This Question Is Asked

When an interviewer asks this question, they want to understand what you’re looking for in a new job and how they can improve your experience.

Your answer also lets them know whether or not you have a solid reason for leaving and if you’re serious about your job search.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Balance honesty and positivity.

Talk about how you’re looking to expand your experience, tackle more challenges, acquire a better work-life balance, etc.

If it’s something you’re not willing to share, you may give a vague answer that you’re facing personal issues.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t say anything negative about your current employer or complain about your position.

Avoid mentioning low salary as your primary reason for leaving.

Example Answer

“I need a change of pace and new challenges that can help my career flourish. My current job doesn’t satisfy me in this regard.”

4. What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

This question is almost the same as the one about where you see yourself in five years.

Your approach should be similar when you answer it.

Why This Question Is Asked

Your interviewer is trying to measure your ambition, your vision related to this role, and how ready you are to improve your skills.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Let your answer revolve around realistic career opportunities.

Express how your hopes for the future can align with the position you’re applying for.

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Don’t give specific titles or points in the future where you hope to accomplish something.

Example Answer

“When I’m older, I hope that I’m in a position where I can use my skills to the benefit of my company and career.”

5. Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

While you may have nothing to inquire about, you should always take the opportunity to ask about something related to the position.

It shows your interest and commitment.

Why This Question Is Asked

Interviewers usually want to help you know more about the role you’re applying for.

However, sometimes they’ll ask you this question to see if you’ve come prepared for the interview.

What to Focus On When Answering This Question

Ask for clarification on things you’ve already discussed in the interview to show that you were engaged.

You can also inquire about the company’s goals and vision—but nothing too obvious or easy that you might find through a quick online search!

What To Avoid When Answering This Question

Avoid saying, “No, thank you,” or asking about salary-related topics, outside-of-work subjects, or personal things.

Example Answer

“Can you tell me more about the management style of this company?”

Additional Tips for Tough Interviews

Below are a few tips to keep in mind before heading over to a difficult interview.

How Do You Prepare for a Tough Interview?

After sending out your interview confirmation email, start preparing for it by looking up all the details related to the position.

It’s also a good idea to visit the company’s website and educate yourself on its projects, goals, and vision.

Go through all the questions we’ve listed out and practice their answers.

You can try several proven methods to calm nerves before you begin the interview.

What Should You Wear to a Tough Interview?

If the interview invitation email doesn’t mention a dress code, you may opt for something smart casual.

Otherwise, you may research what the employees wear to this specific company and put on something slightly more formal.

How Should You Introduce Yourself In a Tough Interview?

Start by saying your name, then mention your work experience in the industry.

Briefly describe any certifications or awards you’ve acquired, too.

What Questions Should You Ask at the End of a Tough Interview?

Make sure to ask the right follow-up questions to appear interested in the role and invested in your time with your interviewer.

1. What Do You Like About Working for This Company?

This question helps you learn more about the work environment of the organization.

It also allows you to connect to your interviewer on a slightly more personal level.

2. What’s One Challenge You Sometimes Face in This Company?

This is another question you can ask to get a sense of what might be unsavory about the work environment.

Your decision to go forward with this job may change according to the answer.

3. What Have Former Employees in This Position Done to Succeed in It?

The answer to this smart question gives you a headstart before you even start working for the company.

You’ll let your interviewer know that you’re focused on giving your best if you take this position.

Frequently Asked Questions

Check out the following inquiries about tough interview questions before taking up the challenge.

What is the hardest interview question to answer?

“What makes you unique?” can be tough to answer, much like the previous questions on our list.

The right response involves all the positive attributes of your personality that you think might fit in with the company’s goals.

You’re a fast thinker, not a procrastinator, a seamless team worker, etc.

What is the STAR method in interviews?

The STAR method refers to a technique where you respond to a behavior-type question by focusing on four aspects.

These are the situation you’re describing, task, action, then result.

Wrapping Up

Tough interview questions put you in the spotlight while you’re unprepared.

However, you don’t have to worry because the questions and answers above should help you get ready.

Make sure you practice several times and tailor the answers to your situation. Try to sound as natural as possible.

Once you do, your chances of leaving a lasting impression on your interviewer should skyrocket!

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