Ten of the Toughest Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

How do you prepare for a job interview? You press your suit, shine your shoes, leave extra early, and print off a copy of your resume. You might feel like everything else that happens in your interview is left to fate, but you can prepare for some of the unexpected by knowing your answers to some of the most popular and toughest questions employers can ask.

In the Forbes article, “Why Are Manholes Round? The 10 Toughest Interview Questions,” Meghan Casserly gives us ten of the best interview questions employers use to reveal your character and how to answer them.

1. Why is there a gap in your work history? Employers know that people will lose their jobs and it might be hard for them to find work again. Focus on what you did while you were out of work, like volunteering, freelancing, or caring for a family member, says Susan Nethery, director of student affairs marketing at Texas Christian University.

2. Can you think of a recent problem in which old solutions wouldn’t work? Employers ask this to test your problem solving skills and your knowledge of the field. Be prepared with a story about the time you came to the rescue with a great idea at one of your former jobs.

3. What would the person who likes you least in the world say about you? This is another way of asking “what’s your worst quality?” Jim Link, managing director of human resources at staffing firm Randstad says he’s never hired a person who can’t answer this question. He says he’s looking for an answer that takes a negative and spins it into a positive. Like how your impatience could be seen as a bad quality but that it ultimately helps you meet deadlines.

4. What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? Employers want to see that you’ve been able to take a risk and get back up again after it failing miserably or that you’ve taken other risks that have had big payoffs in the end.

5. Have you ever had a supervisor challenge your behavior? How, and how did you manage that? Keep your answer simple and succinct. When an employer asks this question they aren’t asking you to delve into a long story about your relationship with a former supervisor, they’re asking what lesson you learned from it.

6. Describe a time when you were part of a project or planning team that could not agree… Again, employers are not looking for the story, but the lesson learned. The way you answer these questions about your past tell them how you will react in the future.

7. If you could change one thing about your last job, what would it be? This is not the place to talk bad about past employers and coworkers. Employers are hoping to see how well you are able to vocalize a problem. If you want to answer this question in safe territory, it’s suggested to talk about something like problems you had with technology.

8. Explain a database in three sentences to your 8-year-old nephew. This question can be changed to interview for any field. The question demands you know and understand enough about your field that you could explain it with a quick and simple explanation.

9. Tell me about yourself…Keep your answer professional and to a minute or two. The best way to do this is stick to four categories: early years, education, work history, and recent career experience.

10. Why should we hire you? When an interviewer asks you this question they’re asking, “why are you are more qualified than everyone else.” Your answer should show that you understand the job description and qualifications as well as the skills you need to succeed in your new job.

Have you ever been asked any of these questions at an interview? Were you prepared? Share your interviewing stories in the comment box below.



Casserly, Meghan. “Why Are Manholes Round? The 10 Toughest Interview Questions.” July 27, 2011. Forbes. Accessed on August 16, 2011.< http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2011/07/27/the-10-toughest-interview-questions/2/>

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