Home: Sample Interview Answers: Tough Interview Questions and Answers

Eight Tough Interview Questions 
and the Answers that Land Jobs

The really difficult job interview questions you're likely to be asked during an interview are often very simple open-ended questions without right or wrong answers.

These tough interview questions require thoughtful responses. How you answer says a great deal about who you are, so it's important to think about these likely questions before your job interview.

Tough Interview Questions and Great Answers

1. Tell me about yourself

Talk about personal characteristics and skills that reflect your career strengths. The hiring manager wants you to tell him or her why you are the best person to hire. Talk about what you have done to make yourself the best candidate for this job. Three minutes max.

Opening questions about you are common so check out these other answers to job interview questions about YOU.

2. What are your greatest strengths?

Talk about qualities you have that all employers value, such as commitment, drive, initiative, flexibility, communication skills, motivation, pleasant personality, etc. Focus on ones that directly match the job requirements.

3. What is your greatest weakness?

A generation ago interviewees were urged to present a strength as a weakness - "My greatest weakness is that I work too hard." That's deceptive and won't work anymore. What you need to do is talk about a work-related weakness that you are actively trying to overcome. For example, you get nervous before important meetings so you are learning relaxation techniques you can use at work.

Tough interview questions nos. 2 and 3 cause many candidates the most worry. If you're one of them, check out our guide to answering job interview strength and weakness questions.

4. Where do you plan to be in your career in five years?

Employers like employees who set goals and work toward achieving them. If you're asked this tough interview question talk about achievable objectives and the steps you are taking to reach them. Put them in terms of the Company. For example, "in five years I would like to be the best sales manager in your Company. To reach that point I'm taking a management skills course at the local college."

And here are 3 more answers to tough interview questions about your ambitions.

5. Why do you want to work for this Company?

If you researched the Company while preparing for your interview, this is where it pays off. Identify something specific about the Company, such as its products, services or management style that turns you on.

6. Why should we hire you over other strong candidates?

The top tough interview question! Don't be afraid to say they should hire you because you are the best person for the job. Then back up your statement with specifics. What do you have that is special?

7. What motivates you?

Answer honestly, but don't say money. Most workers are motivated by challenging or interesting work, the opportunity to make a difference, contributing to a team effort - things like that.

8. What are your salary requirements?

Interview experts recommend not bringing up salary at a first job interview. But if the interviewer brings it up, you have to be ready to answer. Try to be vague - say that salary isn't your primary consideration and you'd be open to any reasonable offer. Leave the next step in this dance to the interviewer.

If he or she presses with this tough interview question, give an answer based on your research on the job market. Giving a salary range is fine, but set the minimum slightly higher than the lowest salary you'd accept, since it might be the lower figure they offer. If you feel confident, give an actual figure based on what you think you are worth.

Successful salary negotiation is a fine art and we've dedicated a whole section to it here.

Use Tough Interview Questions to your Advantage

Remember, you were invited to the interview in the first place because the hiring manager thought you might be the right person for that job. Give him or her a reason to hire you.

Use tough interview questions like these as your forum for selling yourself. Paint a picture of yourself that the employer will like. Be direct, think before you speak, and provide specific examples to back up your claim that you are the person to hire.

Do all this and you will increase your chances of getting hired!

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