Job interview

7 tough interview questions

Interview Tips

The job interview is a pivotal moment in every professional's career journey. It's where skills, experience, and preparation are tested, especially when confronted with tough interview questions. This guide lists the seven most challenging interview questions and offers insights on how to answer them with poise and confidence.

Decoding the Interview Process

Understanding the interview process is crucial for success. Interviewers often ask tough questions to evaluate your technical abilities, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and cultural fit. Each question is an opportunity to showcase your strengths and potential as an employee.

7 Tough Interview Questions

  1. "Where do you see yourself in five years?" - This classic question allows interviewers to gauge your career aspirations and commitment to the field. Your answer should reflect ambition and a realistic understanding of the career trajectory in your industry.

  2. "Why did you leave your last job?" - This can be a minefield if not navigated carefully. Focus on the positive aspects of moving forward and what you hope to achieve in the new role.

  3. "What is your greatest weakness?" - This question tests your self-awareness and honesty. Choose a genuine weakness and follow it up with steps you are taking to overcome it.

  4. "How do you handle stress and pressure?" - Your response should highlight resilience and effective stress management techniques.

  5. "Describe a time when you failed." - This question examines your ability to learn from mistakes. Provide a real example and focus on the lessons learned.

  6. "Why should we hire you?" - Here's your chance to sell yourself. Align your skills and experiences with the job description and the company's needs.

  7. "Do you have any questions for us?" - Always have a question prepared. It shows your interest in the role and the company.

Strategies for Answering Difficult Questions

Approach these questions with a strategy in mind. Understand the intent behind the question, and structure your answer to demonstrate your skills, experiences, and how they relate to the position you're interviewing for.

1. Can you tell me about a time you had to solve a problem creatively?

Strategy: This question intends to assess your problem-solving and creativity skills. Share an example highlighting your ability to think outside the box and develop innovative solutions. Structure your answer using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to explain clearly and concisely.

Example: "Certainly, in my previous role as a marketing manager, our team was tasked with increasing brand awareness with a limited budget. I suggested creating a social media campaign that leveraged user-generated content, which engaged our audience and generated buzz through word-of-mouth. This resulted in a 30% increase in engagement and a 20% increase in brand recognition within just three months."

2. How do you handle tight deadlines and multiple projects?

Strategy: The employer wants to gauge your ability to manage time effectively and handle workload efficiently. Showcase your organisational and time management skills by sharing examples of taking on multiple projects while meeting strict deadlines. Emphasise your stress management and prioritisation abilities in your response.

Example: "In my previous role as a project coordinator, I was often responsible for managing multiple projects simultaneously. I utilised a combination of prioritisation, delegation, and effective time management techniques to ensure that all deadlines were met. By implementing a detailed project tracking system and setting regular check-in meetings with the team, I successfully managed and delivered all projects on time, even when faced with tight deadlines.”

3. Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership skills.

Strategy: The interviewer wants to assess your leadership abilities and how you have effectively influenced and motivated others. Please provide an example illustrating your leadership skills and their positive impact on the team or project. Highlight the outcome of your leadership and the role you played.

Example: "In my previous role as a team lead, I had to step in and take charge of a project falling behind schedule. I utilised my leadership skills to rally the team, set clear objectives, and delegate tasks effectively. By providing guidance and support, I motivated the team to work collaboratively and efficiently, resulting in the project being completed two weeks ahead of the original deadline."

By approaching interview questions with a strategic mindset and structuring your responses around showcasing your relevant skills and experiences, you can effectively demonstrate your qualifications for the position. 

Clarifying Ambiguous Questions

Don't hesitate to ask the interviewer for clarification when faced with a vague or unclear question. This ensures your answer is on target and demonstrates your willingness to communicate effectively.

  1. "Tell me about yourself."

    Strategy: Use this question to highlight relevant skills, experiences, and traits that make you a strong fit for the position. Focus on professional experiences, key achievements, and personal qualities relevant to the role. Avoid personal details unless they directly relate to the job.

  2. "What are your biggest strengths?"

    Strategy: Tailor your response to the specific skills and strengths most important for the job. Provide examples to support your claims, demonstrating how you have applied these strengths in previous roles to achieve positive results. Make sure your strengths align with the critical requirements of the position.

  3. "What is your biggest weakness?"

    Strategy: Be honest about a genuine weakness, but also discuss how you work to improve in that area. Frame your weakness as an opportunity for growth and development, and showcase how you have addressed it. Avoid using a weakness that is directly related to a critical requirement of the job.

  4. "Tell me about a challenging situation you've faced at work and how you handled it."

    Strategy: Choose a relevant example demonstrating your problem-solving skills, decision-making abilities, and resilience. Clearly outline the situation, your actions to address it, and the positive outcome. Emphasise the skills and qualities you used to navigate the challenge successfully.

  5. "Why are you interested in this position/company?"

    Strategy: Show that you have researched the company and understand its mission, values, and industry position. Discuss how your skills and experiences align with the company's needs and values. Highlight specific aspects of the position that appeal to you, such as opportunities for growth, the company culture, or the nature of the work.

  6. "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"

    Strategy: Tie your answer to the potential career path within the company, if applicable. Highlight your career goals and how they align with the company’s long-term objectives. Demonstrate your ambition, motivation, and commitment to professional development.

  7. "What makes you a good fit for this role?"

    Strategy: Summarise your relevant skills, experiences, and qualifications that directly align with the position’s requirements. Use specific examples to illustrate how your past experiences have prepared you to excel in the role. Showcase your understanding of the role and how you can contribute to the company's success. 

Avoiding Common Mistakes

One of the most common mistakes in job interviews is being underprepared. Research the company, understand the job description, and practice your answers to common interview questions. Avoid generic responses; personalise your answers to reflect your unique experiences and skills.

When approaching interview questions, it's essential to remember the specific skills, experiences, and qualities the interviewer is looking for in a candidate. To prepare for these questions, it's helpful to understand the job description, research the company, and consider how your background aligns with the position’s requirements.

For example, if you're asked about your experience with a particular skill or technology, provide specific examples of how you've used that skill in previous roles. If the question concerns a challenge, focus on how you overcame it and what you learned from the experience. If the question concerns your leadership or teamwork abilities, give examples of how you've successfully collaborated with others or led a project to completion.

It's also essential to tailor your answers to showcase how your skills and experiences are relevant to the job you're applying for. This might involve highlighting specific projects or accomplishments that are particularly applicable to the role and explaining how they demonstrate your ability to succeed in the position.

Overall, the key strategy is to demonstrate your qualifications in a way that directly addresses the interviewer's concerns and shows that you are the best fit for the job. By understanding the intent behind the question and structuring your answers to showcase your skills and experiences, you can impress the interviewer and increase your chances of landing the job. 


Job interviews can be challenging, but you can navigate even the toughest questions with the proper preparation and mindset. Use this guide to understand what interviewers are looking for and how best to present yourself as the ideal candidate for the job.