7 Tough Interview Questions and Answers You Can Review

Updated 14 December 2022

During a job interview, a hiring manager may ask you questions beyond testing your knowledge of basic job related skills. Since these questions require thoughtful answers, it may be challenging to provide responses without adequate preparation. Understanding how to answer these tough interview questions can help you talk about yourself in a positive manner and communicate your qualifications for the position. In this article, we discuss seven tough interview questions and possible answers so that you can impress a hiring manager, distinguish yourself from other candidates and improve your chances of getting an employment offer.

7 tough interview questions and answers

Here are seven tough interview questions and answers:

1. What critical feedback have you heard from others?

An interviewer might also phrase this question by asking you to describe your greatest weakness. Interviewers ask this question to learn if you're self-aware of potential areas for improvement. They may also want to know if you're working on improving your potential weaknesses. In your answer, provide a genuine piece of criticism you've heard in your professional life. Explain what the critique is and how you're attempting to improve it. If you can't think of a specific example, provide a weakness of which you're personally aware.

Example: 'In my previous position, my team members told me that I tend to talk when others are speaking in a group setting. While I have a passion for my work and for collaborating with others, I understand that there's great value in active listening. I've come to appreciate gathering input from everyone and implementing diverse ideas and perspectives. Now, whenever I'm in a group setting, I take notes while others are contributing. When possible, I'm also the last one to contribute my thoughts so that I can genuinely consider what everyone else is saying.'

Related: List of Weaknesses: 8 Things to Say in an Interview

2. What's your greatest achievement?

A hiring manager may ask this question to understand what you define as success. Even if the hiring manager doesn't specifically ask for your greatest professional achievement, it's best to provide an accomplishment that you experienced in your career. Ensure that it relates to the position for which you're interviewing. For clarity, focus on a single achievement and provide details and statistics when possible.

Example: 'My greatest achievement occurred at my previous job. The company hired me to work as the marketing manager. Before I arrived, the marketing department was failing to meet its monthly goals. Upon my arrival, I wrote, designed and implemented a new marketing plan without any assistance from supervisors. Within three months, the department was exceeding its monthly goals by at least 20%. The marketing plan also generated an additional million dollars in revenue during this period.'

Related: How Do I Showcase My Greatest Achievement Examples?

3. Tell me about yourself.

A hiring manager may ask this question to obtain a summary of who you are and your qualifications. Provide a concise response relevant to the position and highlight how you can add value to the organisation. You may briefly explain your education, career goals and passion for the industry in which you work.

Example: 'My name is Jack Moore, and I'm a business analyst. I've always had a passion for working with numbers and organising data, which led me to obtain a Bachelor of Business Administration from Rising Tulip University. I was able to channel my enthusiasm for this field with an internship at Grayson Group. Since graduating, I've worked as a business analyst at Russell Smith LLC for the past three years. Now, I hope to gain more experience in the financial technology industry, which is why I'd like to work as a senior business analyst at your company.'

Related: Interview Question: 'Tell Me about Yourself'

4. Why is there a gap in your resume?

Your response to this question can help a hiring manager understand why you haven't been in the workforce recently. The answer you give can help them feel more confident in hiring you even if you haven't held a job within the past several months. In your answer, focus on reasons that relate to your professional development.

Example: 'After leaving my last job due to an organisational change, I decided to spend some time acquiring more credentials before re-entering the job market. I applied for a program at Oceanside University to obtain my Bachelor of Marketing. I also obtained two professional certifications, one that taught me about search engine optimisation techniques and another that focused on website design. Now, I feel more prepared to assume a role as a brand manager, as my skill set is much more diverse.'

Related: How to Overcome 4 Common Job Search Barriers

5. What changes would you make to this organisation if you were to become an employee?

When a hiring manager asks this question, they may want to see how much you already know about the organisation. You can prepare your response to this question by researching the organisation before your interview. Before suggesting changes, you can state that it would be necessary for you to become more familiar with the organisation's operations from an internal perspective. If you provide suggestions for changes, you can recommend something that shows your initiative and creativity. For example, you may explain that you'd want to help the company expand its offerings.

Example: 'From my research, I know that your company has experienced a lot of recent success. It consistently exceeded its quarterly sales expectations for the past two years, and the new product line-up has received excellent praise from consumer reviews. I'd like to acquaint myself better with the company's strengths, operations and financial condition before stating what changes I could help implement. If the company plans to further expand its product offering, I'd love to offer my skills and expertise to help begin that initiative.'

Related: Innovation Skills: What They Are and Why They're Important

6. Why have you had so many jobs?

An interviewer may ask this question to determine your commitment to the hiring organisation. Even if you've had several jobs throughout your professional career, you can explain that they've helped you develop the necessary skills for the open position. If most of your jobs were at the beginning of your career, or you have valid reasons for holding several jobs over a short period, you can emphasise this fact in your response.

Example: 'I worked as a sales associate at five different companies between 2012 and 2017. I didn't remain at the same company because my spouse was in the military, and it was necessary for us to move frequently. This diverse experience helped me develop strong customer service and teamwork skills. The frequent job changes also occurred at the beginning of my career. Since early 2017, I've held the same team leader position with the same company. Now, I'm hoping to use my expertise to advance in my career and assume more responsibilities with your company as an assistant manager.'

7. An orange and an apple cost $1.10 in total, and the orange costs $1.00 more than the apple. How much does the apple cost?

Even if the available role doesn't require regular use of maths, a hiring manager may ask this type of question during an interview to gauge your critical thinking skills. If you receive a riddle like this one during an interview, take a moment to think about the problem thoroughly. For this specific question, you might intuitively answer '$0.10', but this answer is incorrect. In your response, provide the correct answer and detail the thought process that allowed you to think of the correct answer.

Example: 'The apple costs $0.05. This is because if the apple costs $0.05, it would be necessary for the orange to cost $1.05 so that it costs exactly $1.00 more than the apple. When you add $0.05 and $1.05 together, you get a final sum of $1.10, which satisfies the information in the original question.'

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