Simple job interview questions sometimes lead to confusion and fumbles. So, it’s no surprise that tricky questions can catch even the most qualified job candidate off guard.
Below, I’ve outlined how to answer the toughest interview questions. Don’t let the simplicity of some of them fool you—you’d be surprised how many candidates can’t answer them correctly.
1. What’s One Thing You Would Change About Your Last Job?
Be careful when answering this question—many candidates take it too far.
Try your best to avoid trash talking old employers or former co-workers. As I’ve mentioned before, this makes you look like a loose cannon. Essentially, if you badmouth an employer, you bite the hand that fed you.
There may also be a follow-up question, like “Why didn’t you comment or try to do something about the problem?” Prepare an answer that doesn’t shed an unflattering light on yourself.
2. Why Should I Hire You?
This question lets the person interviewing you know whether you did your research before the interview. When I worked in recruiting, I was astounded by how many candidates had no idea what they applied to do!
Avoid this fumble by researching the company and the open position. Then, tailor your answers to fit what they are looking for. This is also a good time to toot your own horn. Own what a good candidate you are!
3. Why Is There A Gap In Your Employment History?
Employers understand that people lose jobs and sometimes can’t find another one so easily, but that’s no excuse for slacking off.
Tell employers about freelance projects, volunteering, or any classes that you spend your time on. Medical emergencies and taking care of family members are valid answers as well.
By answering this question properly, you show the employer that you were productive while you were unemployed.
4. What’s The Biggest Risk You’ve Ever Taken?
Skydiving is not a good answer. Neither is bungee jumping.
Instead, ensure your answer applies to the position you are interviewing for. If that role requires tenacity or quick thinking, prepare an example that shows how you excelled in such situations. It also helps if your risk turned out to be successful.
5. How Would You Explain [Complex Idea] To An Eight Year Old?
Being able to explain something in very basic terms shows the employer that you have a solid understanding of complex materials.
Odds are, the complex idea will be something related the job. Rely on your experience with the concept (whether it’s databases, mortgages, financial planning, technology, etc.) and answer confidently.
Also, keep your response short. None of your interview answers should be too long, but you especially don’t want to ramble here.
6. What Is Your Biggest Weakness?
Perhaps the most famous “tough” interview question.
To me, this remains a trick question. Your answer should include a weakness that isn’t a weakness for the company or the position. For instance, “I’m just such a hard worker that I’ll stay late hours. I sometimes don’t know when to stop working!” Or, say something you worked on in the past that the new job won’t require.
Are these weaknesses? Technically, yes. However, a company won’t fault you for working too hard and may not care if you “disliked managing budgets” if they’re not asking you to do that.
Remember: Employers are not trying to see you fail—they just want to make sure they have the right candidate for the job. By doing your research and preparing ahead of time, you can tell them exactly what they are looking for.
Have a tough interview question that tripped you up? Post it in the comments to get some ideas for answers.