Jobzella previously showed you the most common interview questions and their model answers. We even told you how to negotiate your salary and get what you want from the beginning. But it is not all paved with roses, some interviewers can seriously surprise you with some tough interview questions and you need to be prepared. Jobzella guides you on how to answer these 100 interview questions correctly without losing the job.
Note: Please don’t use the answers as is. Be creative and add your own spin to the answers and also depending on the situation. Answering interview questions for accounting jobs is probably different from answering interview questions for marketing jobs.
Tough Interview Question #1: Why Should I Hire You?
You might think you are prepared to answer this one but the truth is, you are not! Don’t say how awesome you are or how you have super powers. This question is secretly about the job description. All you need to do is tie in the job description (DO YOUR HOMEWORK) with your actual skills and knowledge that make it critical for you to be chosen. Use experiences from college, internships or past jobs to show how these skills were critical in your tasks back then. They should hire you because you can do that particular job not because you are great as an overall employee. Show your uniqueness.
Tough Interview Question #2: I am seeing a gap in your resume
It is not a secret if you got fired or couldn’t find a suitable job after you quit the last one. Unemployment exists and your recruiter knows about it. Be honest, say you spent that time productively caring for your family, reading, taking online courses (we have a few thousand of those here by the way) or even working freelance. They don’t care about actual employment records, no one wants to hire someone who just spent their unemployed time on the couch in front of TV in their Pajamas.
Tough Interview Question #3: Tell Me About Yourself
Weekend activities don’t count here, you can’t really be irrelevant or boring when talking about yourself. You have these four areas to cover, early years (pass by them quickly) then go to education then internship/employment history and then go to your most recent job and focus there. This question usually comes up in the beginning in the form of an introduction. So make it quick, direct and very much short.
Tough Interview Question #4: Why Did you Leave Your Last Job?
Whatever you say, don’t talk badly about your former boss, manager or coworkers. It is not for fear of them knowing, it is because, that even if they were THAT horrible, it shows you take things too personally and have a hard time letting go. It also shows you didn’t really face your problems in the first job but basically chose the easy way out which is quitting. Need a better answer for this question?:Say things like “They weren’t willing to change or adapt to the more recent technologies and ideas” or “I didn’t really see myself still working there in five years”.
Tough Interview Question #5: Explain your Job Description to a 7 Year Old
This one is really tough only if you are not that good at what you do. All you have to do is use simple terms to explain something probably very complicated. Why? Because if you are as good as you say you are in your resume, then you know the field inside out and can explain it without buzzwords or difficult terms. This question is to show who is really an expert at what they do or did a quick two-minute internet search on the job description on their phone in the waiting room. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
Tough Interview Question #6: What if I reject all these new ideas?
Perfect Answer: “I am sure you have very great ideas and I would appreciate it if you explain the reasons behind the rejection so I continue to learn”. See what we did there? You basically show you are humble and always willing to learn. Two great qualities demonstrated with one sentence.
Tough Interview Question #7: Have you ever had a conflict with a boss?
Don’t say no. We have all had conflicts with bosses/managers. Just say “I remember one or two conflicts. Nothing big. We had disagreements and I always worked hard to not take it personally and worked on listening to the other person’s point of view and try to find a mutual ground for the benefit of the company. It is not about who wins a fight.”
Tough Interview Question #8: What is your greatest weakness?
Please don’t say binge watching soap operas. That is not the point behind this question. You will find people advising you to take one point of strength in your character and saying it is a weakness. Also wrong because it shows you are deceiving the interviewer. Instead say something like “I have had trouble in the past with planning and punctuality. However, I’m now working on fixing this with this new app that makes sure I never miss an appointment and arrive on time.” Then show them the actual app on your phone.
You are human, you make mistakes and you have weaknesses. The interviewer knows that. He/She will appreciate it when you talk about a true weakness and show what you are doing to overcome it.
Tough Interview Question #9: But you studied Literature in College, how would I tell if you are fit for a marketing job?
Actually it is an excellent interview question. So start by saying just that.
You can say what you learned from your college major as an overall. Maybe literature taught you to be really attentive to detail or appreciate the tone of writing which is a great part of marketing strategies and implementation. Then maybe you found a passion for marketing and studied it and interned and did a lot of hard work to build your knowledge and experience in the field and that is why you are fit for a marketing job. Sway the question your way.
Tough Interview Question #10: You moved between three jobs in a year. Why should I hire you?
“Well, I may have left three jobs in a year. But I would rather not be employed than be employed at a place where I don’t have room to grow, show my ideas and create some real change and take a company to the next level. The worst thing at a job is the part of knowing you are not going anywhere or worse, you are not taking the company anywhere. I know my path and I feel my position here will really help me take this company to the next level.” Then start talking some brilliant ideas for that department. See how you took a very negative question into a very positive place?
Tough Interview Question #11: What are your strengths?
Be accurate. Choose strengths that you actually possess. Don’t pick an answer that worked for a friend or a family member. Be original. Be Relevant, Use the job description advertised to work for you. Be specific. Don’t say “people skills” but say “persuasive communication.” And Be prepared to demonstrate.
Tough Interview Question #12: Why do you want this job?
Very simply. Study the job description beforehand, then show how your skills match; Show your enthusiasm for the job and try to show how you would fit into the workplace culture.
Tough Interview Question #13: Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?
Recruiting is a very time-consuming and difficult process. The person interviewing you does not want to invest time and effort in hiring and training a person who is already planning to leave for something better as soon as it comes along. This “something” can be a better job, your own business or even marriage. Make your answer truthful, but don’t raise his/her doubts about you actually staying on the job.
Tough Interview Question #14: What’s your ideal company?
Be sincere. Say “An ideal company for me is a company that values employees and allows them to be themselves and build and share”. Get clues from the brief you read about the company on Jobzella for an example. Focus on what you can offer and what makes you their ideal employee as well.
Tough Interview Question #15: What attracted you to this company?
Again and again, do your homework about the company before the interview. Use your information about the company to create phrases about why it is attractive to you. Don’t also forget to tie it in with the industry the company is within. Admire the products and services or a company’s marketing effort for an example. Just show you know the company. Saying it is close to where you live is not a good reason to want a vacancy.
Tough Interview Question #16: Why should we hire you?
This might sound a lot like question number 1, but in this case, the employer is fetching answers for the entire company not just for his department. This means Choose three to four points about your experience. Highlight your Industry experience, Experience with certain tasks or duties, Technical skills, Soft skills and/or Key accomplishments that benefit the entire company.
Tough Interview Question #17: When were you most satisfied in your job?
Simple example: “I worked hard to become a marketer and I enjoy putting those skills to work”. It is not about salary, benefits or things to expect from the company. It is about you showing where you shine.
Tough Interview Question #18: What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
Try humor. Saying something funny like “Can I interview them first and tell you?” shows you are quick to handle a tough situation and you can think creatively. That is not the answer of course, after the laughter say something nice and don‘t trash talk the other candidates. Say something unique about yourself.
Tough Interview Question #19: What were the responsibilities of your last position?
Don’t lie. They can get the real answer from your previous employer. Be clear, short and focus on your unique skills and tasks.
Tough Interview Question #20: Why are you leaving your present job?
Don’t say entitled things like “too far”, “the salary is small” or “my boss hates me”. Instead, say you don’t really see your career evolving there and you would rather transfer to a company where you can grow and evolve.
Tough Interview Question #21: What do you know about this industry?
Well, what do you know about the industry? Do your homework about the company and the industry before you go.
Tough Interview Question #22: What do you know about our company?
Same as #21. Did you do your research?
Tough Interview Question #23: Do you have any questions for me?
Rule number one here is to always ask a question. Ask about the company and the challenges you may expect at your job. Maybe there is a special project he/she mentioned, ask about that too. It shows you were listening while he/she was talking.
Tough Interview Question #24: Are you willing to relocate?
Rule of thumb: don’t promise what you cannot deliver. Either say yes or no and be truthful. If you have family or health issues that prevent you from relocating. State them.
Tough Interview Question #25: What was the last project you led, and what was its outcome?
This is assuming you said you led a project or you were a team leader. This is where they can see your leading skills. Talk about the challenges and how you faced them and how you led the team from point A to point B. Even if the outcome was failure or not delivering it on time, admitting it shows character.
Tough Interview Question #26: Give me an example of a time that you felt you went above and beyond the call of duty at work.
Be a hero if it is the truth. Just go easy on the drama. Be short and to the point.
Tough Interview Question #27: Can you describe a time when your work was criticized?
Say what you learned from criticism and how it helped you grow. Don’t say your work was never criticized. We all get criticized. Even the person interviewing you was criticized at some point.
Tough Interview Question #28: Have you ever been on a team where someone was not pulling their own weight? How did you handle it?
Just say “I concentrated on getting my own work done and then went to ask my supervisor what I could do to help that person finish the task.”
Tough Interview Question #29: Tell me about a time when you had to give someone difficult feedback. How did you handle it?
Use a case scenario. Say for an example “A team member suddenly started to come in late almost every day and always looked tired and had trouble concentrating. I had a talk with her only to learn she was caring for a sick mother. I responded by working to change her timeframes in order to balance work with that urgent situation.”
Tough Interview Question #30: What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?
Talk in simple points about the situation, your approach to it and the result (Failure). Then say you learned to be more focused and prepared or to strategize priorities.
Tough Interview Question #31: How do you handle working with people who annoy you?
Say “I just do my job. My personal opinion of my coworkers is irrelevant.”
Tough Interview Question #32: If I were your supervisor and asked you to do something that you disagreed with, what would you do?
Say “If I disagree, then it is for the sake of work and the bigger picture. I would try to elaborate on my point of view with you first. If you are not convinced then what do you suggest we should do then?”
Tough Interview Question #33: What was the most difficult period in your life, and how did you deal with it?
Try not to admit crimes or a huge personal issue. After all, it is work. Skim through the period itself and focus on what you learned. That is what the interviewer is after.
Tough Interview Question #34: Give me an example of a time you did something wrong. How did you handle it?
“I admitted it. Tried to fix it and when I couldn’t fix it on my own, I asked for help and I completely took responsibility for my mistake. But I learned a lot from that mistake.” Then talk about what you learned.
Tough Interview Question #35: Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict on the job.
“I tried to work with management on finding a solution to suit all the parties involved. It is never personal, it is business.”
Tough Interview Question #36: If you were at a business lunch and you ordered a rare steak and they brought it to you well done, what would you do?
“I would politely wait until the server has passed out all of the food to everyone at the table; signal for their attention and when they walk over to me I would let them know that there has been a mistake because I ordered a rare steak and ask them to correct the order politely without making a scene.”
Tough Interview Question #37: If you found out your company was doing something against the law, like fraud, what would you do?
“I would gather all information needed to be sure. If the information confirms it then I would express this to my superiors and work on a way to make sure the company is operating legally. If they continue down the same path, I would quite because that would not be n line with my ethics and morals.”
Tough Interview Question #38: What assignment was too difficult for you, and how did you resolve the issue?
Be truthful. It is okay to say a task or assignment was too hard. Just say you worked hard on studying the background information and asked for help from your coworkers.
Tough Interview Question #39: What’s the most difficult decision you’ve made in the last two years and how did you come to that decision?
Again, be truthful. Just try to state a professional decision and not a personal decision. They don’t want to learn about you moving out or what happened to you as a child. Demonstrate your courage and ability to handle stress.
Tough Interview Question #40: Describe how you would handle a situation if you were required to finish multiple tasks by the end of the day, and there was no conceivable way that you could finish them.
“I would talk to my supervisor and ask for help in prioritizing the tasks. If they all need to be done today and there is no way to postpone. I would ask for coworkers to be assigned to help me after explaining why there is no way I would finish them all on my own.”
Tough Interview Question #41: What salary are you seeking?
This is all related to salary negotiations. You should be a master at that after learning from our article on negotiating your salary. You can also ask about the company’s budget or tell the interviewer you expect nothing less of market’s salary range for your job.
Tough Interview Question #42: What’s your salary history?
Don’t answer that — your salary history is your own business and nobody else’s. You can, however, start by specifying your salary target.
Tough Interview Question #43: If I were to give you this salary you requested but let you write your job description for the next year, what would it say?
Have you done your homework? Do you know the job description of this vacancy? If you have, then you will simply say “I will be fully dedicated and committed to exceed my KPIs, and I would work day and night also to exceed your expectations and requirements.” Be smart and don’t fall for the trap.
Tough Interview Question #44: What are you looking for in terms of career development?
This is relevant to your field. But do say you would love to grow within the company after acquiring all the trainings and knowledge transfer one would expect within the industry. You can make the mood lighter by joking about not expecting to take your manager’s job of course.
Tough Interview Question #45: How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
Talk about taking courses, a diploma or even start on your Master’s degree. Just say it will not reflect to your dedication to the job and what it requires. Show the tendency to continue learning and improving your career and knowledge. Then ask them if they provide these benefits or support it. Be a self starter not just a receiver.
Tough Interview Question #46: What kind of goals would you have in mind if you got this job?
If you were listening throughout the interview, you will probably know the real reason they are looking to hire someone like you. Maybe a new project, expansion or fixing a current situation. Focus on making that YOUR Goal. Then add a bit about how you would improve the process, build new processes and systems and reach a fantastic milestone. Just choose something you know the company is keen on. NO PERSONAL GOALS.
Tough Interview Question #47: If I were to ask your last supervisor to provide you additional training or exposure, what would she suggest?
Whatever you say, don’t be defensive. This is not an attack but it is a question that provokes you to be defensive. When you get asked a question like this, it is important to talk about certain traits and experiences and give a specific area where you need improvements. Say “No one is perfect and the only way to improve is to know where you need to work.”
Tough Interview Question #48: How would you go about establishing your credibility quickly with the team?
Say “If I am hired, I start by putting together an outline of what I hope to take action on and accomplish in my first 3 months on the job and I’d like to talk it over with you.” Then discuss the plan or what you think is best to focus on the beginning. Remember that actions speak louder than words.
Tough Interview Question #49: How long will it take for you to make a significant contribution?
Start by “I have a plan in order to work efficiently as soon as possible. But, naturally in the first month I will be getting everything in order and getting used to the company’s processes and the training required. After that month, I am sure to be skilled and confident enough to start helping out on projects.” Show your communication skills by saying “Do you feel there is, in your opinion, a way I could benefit the company sooner?”
Tough Interview Question #50: What do you see yourself doing within the first 30 days of this job?
Getting the training required and familiarizing yourself with company’s products and services in order to serve the organization better is the safest way to go here.
Tough Interview Question #51: If selected for this position, can you describe your strategy for the first 90 days?
Do you have ideas on how to serve THE COMPANY not yourself better? Share them when asked this question.
Tough Interview Question #52: How would you describe your work style?
If you have done your homework, you would know if this company values self starters or people who follow certain rules and regulations and management styles. Take your lead from the homework.
Tough Interview Question #53: What would be your ideal working environment?
Same as the previous question; do your homework about their work environment and take queues from that. Ideally, an ideal work environment is that company you are interviewing for, right?
Tough Interview Question #54: What do you look for in terms of culture — structured or entrepreneurial?
We cannot stress this enough. It is really that simple, you are interviewing there because you want to work there. Which means they are essentially your ideal workspace, describe the company from what you have learned via research.
Tough Interview Question #55: Give examples of ideas you’ve had or implemented.
Do just that without conveying possibly confidential information from your previous job. Don’t be a corporate spy. Show your creativity and ability to think outside the box. If you are fresh grad talk about an idea you want to implement for that company.
Tough Interview Question #56: What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organized?
Talk about apps for example. We have a unique list of productivity apps to steal from J
Tough Interview Question #57: If you had to choose one, would you consider yourself a big-picture person or a detail-oriented person?
Depends on the job you are applying for, a strategist might want to focus on the big picture while a designer is more into details. Take your queue from the job description.
Tough Interview Question #58: Tell me about your proudest achievement.
Having a baby isn’t really a professional achievement. Overcoming adversity and working long hours to deliver a successful project is a proud achievement.
Tough Interview Question #59: Who was your favorite manager and why?
Imagine reviewing your manager, this is what you are asked to do. But do say what you want to copy from that person, maybe he/she was a self starter, handled pressure well, worked long hours to support the team, etc.
Tough Interview Question #60: What do you think of your previous boss?
Even if you hate that person or like that person, don’t make it personal. Instead draw on the positive and negative aspects of that person. Give a review without making it personal. For an example: if your boss was horrible say “My last boss taught me that treating people well, in the long run, leads to a great performance and a happier work environment.” We all know that your former boss was horrible but you learned something from it.
Tough Interview Question #61: Was there a person in your career who really made a difference?
Your interviewer wants to know what motivates you. Understanding what motivates you will give them a bit of insight into what you find important. Having a mentor also shows that you can work well with others.
Tough Interview Question #62: What kind of personality do you work best with and why?
Be truthful. Don’t be cocky and say you work best with everyone. It is not humanly possible.
Tough Interview Question #63: What are you most proud of?
We all have a skill learned or a project that we are proud of. Just don’t be too arrogant. Show humility and the desire to create things you are proud of in the new company.
Tough Interview Question #64: What do you like to do?
Talk about your hobbies, legal hobbies of course J
Talk about things you can use to make the process better in the new company. If you like chess, it means you like planning. See what we mean?
Tough Interview Question #65: What are your lifelong dreams?
Your interviewer here isn’t really interested in what you say. He/She wants to see how you will respond to this irregular question. It is okay. Talk about your professional dreams. Show that you’re motivated to build your own success.
Tough Interview Question #66: What do you ultimately want to become?
NEVER fall into the trap of saying answers you think the interviewer really wants to hear. Even if you life goal will take you away from that company, it is okay. You should not feel this way at all. This is their way of getting a general estimate of how long you hope to keep the job you are interviewing for you, they also want to know how committed you will be in general.
Tough Interview Question #67: What is your personal mission statement?
The interviewer here is assessing how committed you are to your career. Remember your CV’s headline? Make it as close as possible to that without being too general. If you can demonstrate a clear career desire that is aligned with the company’s goals, you can stand out and win the job.
Tough Interview Question #68: What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
Be honest. Say three great skills or character traits you have shown at your previous job. Don’t act all humble and avoid the question, never avoid a question.
Tough Interview Question #69: What negative thing would your last boss say about you?
Again, be honest. Say a negative thing but demonstrate how you plan to work on improving it or eliminating it.
Tough Interview Question #70: What three character traits would your friends use to describe you?
Don’t be too generic. Demonstrate your willingness to have fun and think outside the box. Maybe you are loyal? Good with parents? You can negotiate a good deal at a hotel when you are travelling? Show things that can reflect on your career. Being great at partying isn’t a character trait.
Tough Interview Question #71: What are three positive character traits you don’t have?
Just remember that no one is perfect, so it is understandable to your interviewer if you mention traits you don’t have but don’t say really bad things that could get you to lose the job.
Tough Interview Question #72: If you were interviewing someone for this position, what traits would you look for?
How about tact, communication skills and dedication? Maybe ambition, manners, creativity or ability to handle stress? The key here is to show traits that round up to make a great person and the interviewer will automatically see you have many of these traits yourself.
Tough Interview Question #73: List five words that describe your character.
Choose words that relate your character to your career and possibly the job you are interviewing for.
Tough Interview Question #74: Who has impacted you most in your career and how?
It shows humility if you have a mentor or someone you look up to. It also means you are looking to be inspired always, also good.
Tough Interview Question #75: What is your greatest fear?
Don’t say unemployment and don’t use a fear that can scare the interviewer away, like fear of failure. Failure is a part of life and should be accepted and expected.
Tough Interview Question #76: What is your biggest regret and why?
No personal details. Maybe regret not doing your masters or a certain diploma you were willing to take?
Tough Interview Question #77: What’s the most important thing you learned in school?
Pick a response that features strong personal and professional qualities you still have. Don’t take too long to answer.
Tough Interview Question #78: Why did you choose your major?
Again, focus on how your major ties in with the skills and experiences you are offering now.
Tough Interview Question #79: What will you miss about your present/last job?
Focus on positive aspects of your job that you hope to find again with this new company as well as supportive ex managers and ex coworkers.
Tough Interview Question #80: What is your greatest achievement outside of work?
Don’t be TOO personal but do work on relating this personal achievement with how your career is going.
Tough Interview Question #81: What are the qualities of a good leader? A bad leader?
Be calm and professional. Use examples of strong leaders you have worked with and examples of weak leaders you have worked with as well as touching on what you feel are important elements of a great manager.
Tough Interview Question #82: Do you think a leader should be feared or liked?
How about another choice such as “Respected” or “Admired”? State your opinion without being too emotional.
Tough Interview Question #83: How do you feel about taking no for an answer?
If you are in sales, you will get asked this questions a lot. Try to involve words like manners, persistence and ambition in the sentences. Stating that you are persistent enough but you also know when to stop before hurting the business.
Tough Interview Question #84: How would you feel about working for someone who knows less than you?
Say you believe in transferring knowledge and that we all know things others don’t and that it is important to share knowledge with each other to support the business.
Tough Interview Question #85: How do you think I rate as an interviewer?
Be Nice and fair and keep smiling. Don’t offend, humiliate or over flatter your interviewer.
Tough Interview Question #86: Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want me to know.
Be funny if the situation allows. Don’t share information that could hurt your chances at work. Don’t get too personal.
Tough Interview Question #87: Tell me the difference between good and exceptional.
What do you think the difference is? It might seem like a mind teaser but it isn’t really. What do you think is the difference between good and exceptional?
Tough Interview Question #88: What kind of car do you drive?
Be truthful. Don’t read too much into it.
Tough Interview Question #89: There’s no right or wrong answer, but if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
This is hypothetical question that is simply asked to learn more about who you are as an individual. Let your imagination run wild and answer truthfully.
Tough Interview Question #90: What’s the last book you read?
Again, this is a normal question that aims to get to know you as a person not as an employee. We all love a good reader, are you a good reader? What did you read last?
Tough Interview Question #91: What magazines do you subscribe to?
Same as the previous question. Just go ahead and answer it. There are no right or wrong answers here.
Tough Interview Question #92: What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the last year?
They are getting to know you as a person. There is no shame in that. This shows your taste in the arts in general and wouldn’t hurt your interview at all.
Tough Interview Question #93: What would you do if you won the lottery?
Don’t mention non work related solutions. Don’t say I will be a party boy or sleep all day. Show you can make good decisions. NEVER SAY, “I will quit my job”.
Tough Interview Question #94: Who are your heroes?
Who inspires you? Answer truthfully. There is no right or wrong answer here.
Tough Interview Question #95: What do you like to do for fun?
Again, the interviewer is getting to know you. Don’t say details that are too personal and you are fine.
Tough Interview Question #96: What do you do in your spare time?
Don’t say I am working 24/7, simply because that is not the truth. Say your favorite hobby or pastime.
Tough Interview Question #97: What is your favorite memory from childhood?
Again, the interviewer is getting to know you. They want to see you relaxed and comfortable enough to talk about your childhood. That is all.
Tough Interview Question #98: How would you weigh a plane without scales?
This is meant to test how you can think outside the box. Because there are no wrong answers here you can use humor and give a silly answer or be pragmatic and say you will have to look it up online or if you know your physics well, you can give a scientific response.
Tough Interview Question #99: With your eyes closed, tell me step-by-step how to tie my shoes.
Do just that. Don’t get surprised and lose your words. Close your eyes and give step by step instructions on how you tie your shoes, you do it every day, right?
Tough Interview Question #100: If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?
This is meant to test how to act and respond when you are surprised. Be quick on your feet and give an answer. There are no wrong answers here, it is meant to test your reactions.
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