Interview Advice

This Are The 5 Hardest Interview Questions And How to Answer Them

If you get asked one of the five hardest interview questions out there, we've got you covered.
April 1, 2024
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Job interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, leaving even seasoned professionals feeling the pressure. Maybe you've memorized the job description and have rehearsed just how to make your nights waiting tables at Applebees sell yourself to Fortune 500 execs, but some questions always seem to leave an interviewee stumped. While these questions may have "no right answers," they definitely have wrong ones.

In the next few minutes, we'll equip you with the tools to craft the perfect responses and easily tackle those challenging interview questions. With the right preparation and a touch of confidence, you can confidently tackle the curveballs that recruiters often throw your way. So let's dig in.

What are the 5 hardest interview questions to answer?

1. Tell me about yourself.

This seemingly simple question can set the tone for the entire interview. Think of this as a trailer promoting the movie of your career life. Begin with an intriguing introduction that paints you as the protagonist. Then, delve into your educational background and weave in your passion for the industry. Tailor your response to the specific job you're applying for, emphasizing experiences and skills relevant to the role. While it's important to keep your answer concise, don't be afraid to throw some personality in there. 

Example Response: "I graduated from [University Name], where I studied [Your Major(s)] and [Any relevant minor or coursework]. During my time at university, I focused on developing my skills in [Specify relevant skills] through my active participation in [Name of Student Organization or Relevant Activity].

I have [X years] of hands-on experience with [List software/tools or relevant skills], including proficiency in [Specify specific software/tools, e.g., Adobe Creative Suite, including InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop].

Beyond my professional life, I'm passionate about [Personal Interest or Hobby]. For instance, I have a deep love for [Traveling/Another Interest], which has even intertwined with my professional journey when I had the opportunity to work as a [Relevant Job Title] for a [company] in [Location]. This experience not only broadened my horizons but also [Mention how it positively influenced your professional growth or approach to work]."

2. What's your biggest weakness?

But why would I want to highlight my flaws in an interview? Because, young job searchers, this is the perfect way to gain your interviewer's trust. Recruiters ask this question to gauge your honesty, self-awareness, and willingness to improve. Address it by choosing a skill that is not critical to the job you're applying for and emphasize your proactive steps to overcome it. Authenticity goes a long way in impressing interviewers.

Example Response: "One weakness I've been working on is my ability to provide constructive criticism. In the past, I struggled with delivering feedback without affecting my team's morale. To improve, I now jot down my feedback before approaching colleagues, which allows me to offer more constructive and realistic criticism."

3. Why are you leaving your current job?

Answer this question honestly, well, mostly honestly, and highlight your desire for growth and alignment with the new role. While being honest about why you're leaving is okay, make sure it doesn't turn into a gossip sesh. This is a potential employer, not a friend. Calling your boss a "controlling b*tch"—while it might be true—will not land you the job. Instead, focus on what you're seeking in the new role rather than what you're escaping from. Highlight how the new job aligns with your long-term career objectives.

Example Response: "While I valued my time at my previous company, I believe this new position offers better growth opportunities that align with my career goals. It's a perfect match for my skill set, and I see ample room for advancing my career in the coming years."

4. What are your salary expectations?

While the tempting answer may be "Big fat checks, big large bills," this is your chance to set yourself up for negotiation. And part of that negotiation is avoiding disclosing a specific number too early in the interview process. If you can, instead, redirect the conversation to their budget; if not, a well-researched salary range will suffice.

Example Responses: "My salary range is flexible, but I'd love to hear more about the position and company culture before giving a solid number. Could you share with me that budget you had in mind?" 

or "Based on my skills, experience, and industry standards, I'm looking at a salary range of $____ to $____. However, I'm open to discussing the details further to ensure a fair and mutually beneficial compensation package."

5. Are you applying for other jobs?

Just like dating, employers want to see you're a catch. And one of the best ways to prove this is by showing that other people want you. It's not toxic--it's playing the corporate game. Acknowledge that you are actively exploring multiple opportunities, BUT emphasize your enthusiasm for the current position and how it aligns with your career goals.

Example Response: "I've applied to several positions to explore diverse opportunities, but this role has captured my interest the most. The [specific reasons] align perfectly with my career goals, making it my top choice."

Tips for Handling The 5 Hardest Interview Questions

  • Take Your Time: Don't rush your answers; take a moment to gather your thoughts and respond thoughtfully.
  • Practice and Prepare: Rehearse your responses to common questions with a friend or mentor. This will boost your confidence.
  • Highlight Achievements: Use examples and quantifiable achievements to support your answers.
  • Be Honest and Positive: Address weaknesses and challenges honestly, but focus on how you're actively working to overcome them.
  • Ask for Clarification: If a question is unclear, don't hesitate to seek clarification or ask the interviewer to rephrase it.
  • Stay Calm and Confident: Maintain good posture, make eye contact, and speak clearly to convey confidence.
  • Prepare Your Own Questions: Asking thoughtful questions about the company and role demonstrates your genuine interest and preparation.

Remember, while preparing for expected questions is crucial, also be ready for unexpected queries by seeking input from industry peers. Looking for hard questions tailored to the company you're applying for? You can find specific interview questions for each company on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. Taking your time to formulate thoughtful responses, answering honestly and confidently, and preparing your own questions can set you apart in your job interview.

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